So, I quit smoking a week ago today.

And right now, I really, really, really, would quite like just one drag on your cigarette.

May I?

Oh, that is good. That is first class.

I feel better now. Thanks.

Actually, I haven't been near a cigarette since I gave up. In fact, I've surprised myself that in this time I've managed to keep my composure and calmness (I think, although independent verification may be required here). I've so far managed to survive each of the following events, all of which would, in the past, have followed, resulted in, or included, one or more cigarettes:

  • Travelling

    After a nine hour flight, what could be worse than fighting for space at the baggage collection belt? And what could be better than finding the nearest smoking area? If a train is three minutes away from the station, how long do you suppose it would take to smoke a cigarette?

  • Sleeping/Waking up

    Actually, this has proved quite tricky so far. Like my effervescent Vitamin C tablet when I get to work, the cigarette before climbing the wooden hill to the land of nod was something I just did. Every day. There were but two occasional exceptions: If I was with someone, or if I had passed out. Sometimes the two coincided. As for waking up - once upon a time I didn't have a shower in my flat, guess how long it took to run a bath? More recently I found the morning smoke while waiting for a lift to work was a good way of undoing the revitalising efforts of an exfoliating shower.

  • Working

    What I'm doing (ha!) right now. So far, this is the toughest. When I'm not at work I can usually manage to occupy my mind, entertain myself. Work isn't so exciting right now that I can distract myself from the thought of either the smoking room (yuk!) or (ah...) the sunwashed steps at the nearest exit from the building. I've been doing some research into quitting smoking, though. See below.

  • Shopping

    Most modern shopping centres have been designed jointly by urban planners and giant tobacco conglomerations. This is why most interesting shops are spaced at fairly regular cigarette distances. Or so it seems. I went shopping on friday, and was amazed at the number of time I walked out of a shop and started reaching into my pocket for my fags before I realised what I was doing.

  • Boozing

    Not as difficult as I had feared, this one, especially since it was mixed with watching football, which is usually a cigarette banker. Fortunately, not one of the people I was with appeared to smoke, which must have eased the pain. Before I got horribly drunk and locked myself out of my house I managed to have a great time, and after enough drinks, it didn't even occur to me that I might want to smoke.

  • Visiting the folks

    Res ipsa loquitur

Scattered advice on giving up smoking.

So far, I've just gone completely cold turkey. I don't want gum, I don't want a nicotine inhaler, I don't want patches, I don't want stupid expensive crave-easing systems that will cost me nearly as much as cigarettes. I don't like the idea of quitting smoking by allowing myself surrogates of some kind. I've quit, therefore I don't smoke, therefore I don't need something like smoking.

However, perhaps a few hints and tips might come in handy. So off I go in search of useless soundbites.

Googling for "quit smoking" produces a mere 352,000 hits or so. Sponsored links offer to help you quit smoking in 7 days (which just sounds like horrible procrastination to me), or one hour if you're in a rush (how can you quit smoking in an hour? quit FOR an hour, maybe...), or even now, if you visit, which turns out to be a sly link to (help-stop-url-too-long-quit-typing.gaaah...)

My first stop is, drawn in by the laudably straight-laced URL. I've signed up to their email motivator programme, but so far I have only received a welcome email suggesting I read two articles on the web site. I deleted the email.

The web site features a panel that says "Help. I need a cigarette, NOW!" and an invitation to click. I empathise with the sentiment, so I click. Excellent! my first free advice:

"If any difficult situations or social arrangements are on the horizon, think about how you will deal with them in advance."
Let's see. Apart from all situations including waking and sleeping being quite difficult, I have a wedding to attend this weekend, for which I have purchased some fine Dominican cigars to hand round, including one for, hurrah!, myself. On special occasions, it is permitted to smoke a cigar, you see. And I promise not to inhale too much... But what better reward could there be for days, weeks, months of penury...

I can almost taste it already.

Perhaps it's time for some more advice.

"Keep you hands busy by sipping slowly on a glass of water or juice - taking little sips instead of drags of a cigarette."
"Try and spend more time with your non-smoking friends in the first few weeks."
"Change your routine - walk to work instead of driving, avoid the shop where you usually buy cigarettes."

Well, almost none of my friends smoke, walking to work would take about two hours, but the shop I usually buy cigarettes from is the departure lounge of whichever airport I find myself in, so at least I can avoid that banana skin. As for slowly sipping water. What? Perhaps I should also light small rolled up bits of paper, then stub them out without inhaling?

Or perhaps I should take a moment, breathe deeply, relax, and go fix myself a nice cup of cha.

Or I could ...:

"Visualise cigarettes as a dark marker colouring your lungs in each time you smoke."
Ugh. Although I'm not a smoker, so why would I be smoking? Since I don't smoke, I'm going to visualise myself in happy situations, none of which include cigarettes.

Heh. I'm on a date in this one. I'm nervous as hell, but it seems to be progressing nicely... I'll let you know how I got on. Later.