On Social Smoking and Why I’m Quitting

Disclaimer: Smoking is awful. There are few things that are scientifically as clear as the fact that smoking increases mortality rate drastically. It’s bad for your environment and the people around you. Even if you don’t care for your own health, I found a statistic (from an unknown source tho) that claims that 15% of all smoke-related deaths are due to second-hand smoking. In my case, smoking is a sign of insecurity and weakness of character. I fell prey to the illusion that smoking would make me cooler and that it would help me to release stress. Neither of this is the case and smoking is not to be glorified in any way. Don’t start smoking. It is attached to a physical and mental addiction that is immensely hard to overcome.

“I only smoke when I drink”

Having just survived my first week at uni, I can confirm to the statistics stating that a lot of young adults do indeed pick up smoking in their early twenties. Why? I reckon out of insecurity. To hold onto something. In order to not be the only one. And I do it too.

“Well, it’s just so social, you know”.

Is another thing that is being said a lot. And I guess that it is true to some extent. It’s like being the only one not to drink or the only one not to reach for the back of chips during a sleepover. It also depends on who your friends are of course, but a lot of my friends just happen to be smokers.

I’m a social smoker. I’ve had my first cigarette at 15 because I was a rebellious anxious teenager who needed some kind of release. I remember how nervous I was when I bought my first pack. And even more nervous when I stepped outside into the garden at 2 am in the morning, to light my first ever cigarette. I couldn’t sleep, I was anxious, I told myself that I needed a release and that’s how it started. I continued smoking on and off during high school. Every now and then I would escape my desk and my school books by fleeing to the next-best park, sitting cross-legged on a bench and lighting a Marlboro light for the “stress-relief” but usually I’d just take my pack to a party.

Sooner or later I’d find my way outside. The feeling of stepping from a moist and heated room into the cool and quiet night, finding your friends, lighting a cigarette and getting a nicotine rush that makes the world turn for a second…it’s hard to match.

But I think the real reason I started smoking is because I liked the image. I liked the image of me in my over-sized denim jacket sitting cross-legged on a park bench. Or holding a cigarette elegantly between two fingers while sitting at a table making eye contact with the cute guy across from me. There is the ritual as well. The obligatory smoke-break between study sessions. Always having a lighter at hand to light other people’s cigarettes, seeing their faces glow in the short flickering of the flame.

But I want to stop. And I will. After my gap year I realized fairly quickly that I really don’t need cigarettes anymore to approach people. I can join a group of people smoking outside without hesitating and start a conversation without pretending that I’ve forgotten my lighter at home. I don’t even really crave cigarettes anymore and yet I bought a pack of cigarettes just before uni started and it was gone within a week.

It’s time to hold myself responsible. There seems to be a disconnect between what I say and what I do. Overall I am one of the healthiest people I know. Health is my passion. I rarely drink alcohol and if I do I never overdo it. I eat very healthy, I go outside, I de-stress, sleep well and drink my water. I claim to be a good role model for my sister, confident, outgoing and social and YET I bought this stupid pack of cigarettes. My last one that is.

What about you? Any other social smokers out there? Some of you may probably think that I am a bit too harsh on the subject matter. After all, Helmut Schmidt lived to the proud age of 96 and smoked up to three packs a day. Audrey Hepburn, one of the most beautiful women of all time was a notorious chain smoker. My grandfather himself does the same and he loves it. So a cigarette here and there can’t be all that bad, right?

Who knows. But I’d just like to add here that Helmut Schmidt had two by-pass surgeries and my dear Opa is developing a smokers leg. And about Audrey…well…at least my aunt, who works as a makeup artist for a german TV program swears that she recognises a smoker immediately by the quality of their skin.

What are your thoughts on social smoking? Are you someone that managed to quit? Or someone that has never started? Or are you a social smoker yourself and think I am a bit too harsh? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic and any tips on how to quit are more than welcome!

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