A Smoker’s Guide to Abstinence

October 8, 2009


Masochistic that I am, one of the objectives that I set for myself following the move to Goa was to cut down on my cigarettes. There are a few more which I intend making public depending on how close I get to achieving them.

To aid me in this process some of the tools that I have relied on, with varying degrees of success:

1. Not smoking inside the house. No doubt it has helped in keeping the house smokefree but at the cost of keeping me outside my own house most of the day. The one time that this succeeded big time was when it was raining. I realised that holding an umbrella in one hand and a cigarette in the only other was not as cool as it looks.

2. Smoking not more than one cigarette during a clock hour. Example, I will try and restrict myself to one cigarette between 10 AM and 11 AM. This works well. On the flip side, my eyes are more or less all the time on my watch. Particularly embarassing (to them more than me) when any visitor drops in. Considering that even I have not figured out a way to smoke when I am asleep, the benchmark that I was hoping to set was that the number of cigarettes that I smoke in a day will be equal to or less than my waking hours during the day. During the course of this self inflicted torture, I have realised that it is more motivating to wear a watch with a digital display and watching the progress of the seconds counter is positively uplifting.

3. Given the success of Tool 2 above (hereinafter referred to as the Clock Hour Tool), I have made subtle alterations to further enhance its effectiveness. I postpone smoking the cigarette once the clock goes past the 45th minute of the hour and wait till the hour ticks over. I have been warned that this is an extreme case of self inflicted torment and that such tendencies require urgent medical attention. As of now, I am paying no heed to such alarmist pleas.

4. Changing brands. I remember the results of some hare-brained survey on the net which claimed emphatically that smokers exhibit the highest degree of brand loyalty. Like most things found on the internet, this turns out to be a lot of poppycock, at least in my case. I changed brands after moving to Curtorim, also partly because my brand was unavailable in the immediate vicinity. The fact remains that this did not help me reduce one bit even though I imagined onset of severe headaches and very sore throats. I braved these inconveniences and continued on my merry way. The only fall out of this experiment is that I have convinced my source of cigarettes here to stock my brand, which to give him credit, he has done pronto.

Let me take a smokey break before I continue.

5. Indulge in activities which are difficult to execute with a smoke in hand. Two thumbs up to this. I can say with utmost truth that I have not lit up whilst running and cycling. Maybe one of the reasons that I am not running and cycling as much as I should be. For the same reason, I have avoided extreme guilt when I find myself dozing away in the afternoons. Observant readers would have noticed that elsewhere in this post I have confessed to my inability to smoke and sleep at the same time.

6. Avoid activities that encourage smoking. Hence the decision to curtail cricket watching especially the ones involving India. Thankfully, of late, India has developed the laudable habit of making early exits from various tournaments. Lost revenues for ITC.

7. Restricting purchase to one pack at a time. Praiseworthy. However, this has had some dark unintended consequences. It is something like this. Please bear in mind the fact that my cigarette vendor is almost 2 kms away here in Curtorim. So a leisurely walk to replenish stock is out of the question. The cigarettes I smoke must be some of the worst in terms of their carbon footprint. Given that I am genetically predisposed to laziness, I cajole Beni to take a drive and get me my packet. She grudgingly agrees and to save herself another trip she ends up buying and stocking a few more packets, which drives me crazy as this acts as a disincentive for me to space out my quota. Familial bonhomie is shattered. We are working on this. So this tool can be a double edged sword and should be deployed ideally only by evolved minds.

As much as these tools have benefited me, this post would not be complete without a compilation of those extenuating factors which have pushed me into a dilemma on the advisability of tobacco abstinence.

1. Rereading “Cigarettes are sublime” – a charming book by Richard Klein. This was one of my first book acquisitions. Any smoker worth his tobacco should own a copy and give it pride of place in his/ her book collection.

2. Seeing photographs of Nelson Mandela with a cigarette in hand splattered all across the photos section of “A long walk to freedom”. In today’s rabid anti-tobacco world, it is natural for us smokers to be treated like a pariah. The fact that smoking has helped produce luminaries like Mandela and Obama should motivate us to carry on with this rich legacy. Especially during such troubled times. Patrik Sjoberg, the former world champion high jumper from Sweden was a 40 days a smoker when he established the then world record of 2.42m. It is indeed a high achieving club, this smokers’ club.

As you can see this is a life long obsession. I guess one can honestly say that the destination will not be half as much fun as the journey.

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5 Responses to “A Smoker’s Guide to Abstinence”

  1. S M Rana Says:

    I stopped smoking on 18.8.1992 after smoking 325,000 cigarettes(@25 cigarettes per day for 25 years). I tried everything and was thinking day and night how to do it. And then it just happened. The first day is toughest. It’s a matter of deciding, self belief, we have something in us far more powerful than the pull of nicotine. Easier said than done, no doubt.

    • Gani Says:

      Thanks Rana. I will keep that in mind. Looks like I still have some way to go before I reach your threshold for disgust. BTW, the math does not add up. Congratulations on the Ebert bit. I have never managed to understand the nuances of film appreciation. Not for want of trying though. Cheers

  2. chiqutam Says:

    Honestly one of the best blog posts I have ever read, in terms of EVERYTHING [from well-timed humor to length to informativeness]. Loved it ❤
    -T-


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