I started with one a day at age 15. If I could go back and tell myself what I know now… the thing is, they hook you. You can pretend like you’re the one guy on earth who’s immune; you can be in complete denial about how easily you will be hooked and what your biology looks like; you can tell everyone until you’re blue in the face that it won’t happen to you, that you won’t get hooked, but listen to me:
You will. No. One. Escapes.
So two-three a day now, is going to turn into a pack or packs per day in the future, and remember that good, relaxed feeling you have now when you smoke? Soon, every 15 minutes your body is going to get stiff and anxious and you won’t relax until you have a smoke. After dinners out at a restaurant, your heart will pound, hands will get sweaty and you’ll lose all patience if the bill takes too long because your need for a smoke is making your scalp want to crawl off your head.
Waking up in the morning will never again be a slow, lazy, stretchy affair. It’ll turn into a punches-thrown, the-fuck-outta-my-way dilly that only ends in you standing outside in godawful weather most of the time in your pyjamas. The relaxed feeling will last about 6 minutes. Maybe 7 and then you turn into a short-fused monster until you get your next puff.
Eventually, you will start to have trouble breathing. Stairs will become your enemy, you will laugh (until you cough) at the thought of the gym or swimming or even just having a tickle fight. You will experience colds, coughs and flus to their bloody and snotty fullest, about 300% more than an average person experiences them. You will start to become lazier to avoid having to use any lung capacity and the only time your heart rate will rise is when you need a smoke and you can’t get to it fast enough, which usually translates to about three minutes ago.
Flying on a plane will become the most horrific experience you will ever endure, even if it is just an hour-long flight and have previously enjoyed flying. Your heart will race the whole. Goddamned. Time. You will sweat, and want to snap at people, and be absolutely unable to focus on a damned thing. Not a book, not a film, not a tv show. If it is a longer flight, you’ll become nauseated, unable to eat anything. You won’t be able to sleep at all, because all your mind is telling your body to do is get up and go smoke, get up and go smoke, get up and go smoke. When you finally land, the carnival fun show that is navigating customs, security and immigration will be like what I imagine a lobster feels just before he becomes bisque.
Your wallet will empty. It will simply drain. It will go up in a cloud of smoke, and you will never get that money back again.
Your teeth and your fingers will start to turn yellow, and people will start to look at you funny because you smell so fucking awful, but you can’t tell you smell and so many smokers convince themselves that they don’t. Cologne just makes you smell like cologne mixed with stale smoke. Air fresheners do the same. Mouthwash and toothpaste and mints, all they do is make you smell like you smoke menthols. Romantic relationships will become more difficult to get into and stay in because no one wants to smell that every day.
No matter how sure you are that you do not smell, you are absolutely, unequivocally wrong.
After you finally quit? The cravings don’t go away. They get worse for a long time. I’ve not smoked in nine years, and I still get a pang after dinner. I still feel the need to leave the table as quickly as possible and get impatient about it. When I crack a beer, I still feel anxiety, like I am missing something. When I wake up in the morning, or finish a movie, or get off a plane. The anxiety, like I have forgotten something, can be overwhelming, even nine years later. Because it’s in me now. It’s part of me forever. I will never shake it. Neither will you.
People will look at you with disgust.
Your skin will age prematurely.
You will have a good chance of developing a fatal disease.
You can die.
Today you feel relaxed. Today you feel happier than you ever have before. But there will come a day when you will be unable to relax, and you will be excruciatingly unhappy. You will also be broke, sick, single, impatient, snappy, aged and stinky.
There is no way, not one way, to explain away the decay of smokers.
Quit. Quit before this is you.