For precisely half of my life, I have been what is classified on many a health questionnaire, insurance claim or other inane form-fillers as a ‘smoker’. The word evokes many an image, mainly dependent on the perspective taken. My initial and continued first thought is that of a sultry Mia Wallace, gently asking Vincent Vega to “Roll me one of those cowboy…” followed by billows of smoke from her vamp rouge lips, muddled with strained conversation over a somewhat uncomfortable silence.

This is perhaps what led me to embark upon such a lifestyle in the first place; it IS cool. It is not an easy lifestyle to lead though, as many a non-smoker and those that insist only ‘care’ or ‘worry’ make every moment you light up that little less pleasurable than it could have been. In particular as a female, it worsens in some ways the commentary and feedback you incur versus if you were not of a child-bearing ability.

I enjoy smoking. It has been a constant companion in my life which has possibly been the major contribution to its allure. I may sit outside a café, however with my trusty rolled up cigarette, I have something to have silent conversation with.

It therefore does not seem conducive to me to be stopping smoking (again). My reasons have never been to do with health though. Of course, I have had the occasions where my lungs feel like they have managed to sleep through a house fire based on their strenuous attempt to breathe in the morning, however this has never convinced me to stop.

My first reason for my first period of stopping was based on travelling. Smoking had a hold over me and its grip was firm. It was not so bad that I would be irritable, however the comfort of lighting up at the end of a flight or extended period alleviated the angst. It was based on (pardon me if this sounds overly dramatic) if I was to be stuck in a jungle with no luxuries, would I survive? Or would I succumb to the torturous desire for nicotine versus survival skills amidst nature? This thought troubled me as I considered it rather basic and distasteful that I might be more concerned about my next cig than my next meal. And so I stopped. I timed it with a holiday so the mode of relaxation eased the process and I pretended to my family (whom had not seen me for a few years) that I had stopped months ago (this eases the questioning and checking in on ‘how are you doing?’, awaiting the inevitable slide back into smokerdom).

Unfortunate relationship choices, alcohol and unforgiving workplaces led me to resume the habit but I did it with relish. I did not see it as a failure, on the contrary, it was a much needed aid to recovery in many ways. Illegal substances were not consumed in contrast therefore I found it entirely justified and more than fulfilling. Prior to this I had been classified a non-smoker for almost 3 years.

Now, my 2nd reason is again not based on health, quite simply boredom. Boredom of being the only ‘smoker’ amongst my completely “in denial” family and friends, who seem to enjoy far too much living vicariously through me, claiming they only smoke when drinking, on holiday, or if socialising. Ultimately, all the situations where one should be relaxed anyway, and therefore in complete control to buy their own cigarettes. But no. Once again, a very human condition afflicts them; denial. If I smoke someone else’s cigarettes, I am NOT a smoker.

BUT guess what? YOU ARE. This may seem trivial dear readers, however it does get tiresome to be the one that other’s come to for their forbidden fruit. It even reduces to rolling up for them on occasion because they lack the skill and experience of an honest smoker to be able to do it themselves. I indulge them though, repeatedly, because much like a drinker drinking alone, smokers too like company so if I can play advocate to a ‘good time’, why not.

I may come across as controversial and quite probably aloof in my attitude towards this topic, however, it is simply an expression of my displeasure of a highly enjoyable habit of mine. And so, with my weary mind I now experience the nicotine leaving my body for a 2nd time. I would describe the sensation as a gentle fizzing in my mouth, not particularly enjoyable but not unbearable either. There is an element of withdrawal, quite a large one in fact however I have quite purposely exposed myself to situations that would normally send my stress levels soaring (family time, crowds, alcohol etc) and have enjoyed ignoring my usual coping mechanism, instead absorbing the internal biological bedlam that I am forcing my mind and body through. Quite the struggle indeed, however tomorrow is another day, and time most certainly heals.

So the question is, to smoke or NOT to smoke? Quite simply readers, if you are to smoke, do it and do it in STYLE. Buy your own for consumption, enjoy each inhalation and do not hide away your habit from loved ones on the basis that they would judge you differently and express disdain. Who cares? It is your choice at the end of the day. Much like a hangover, if your aim is to become intoxicated at the end of the evening, you must be completely aware that unless suitable actions are taken (food is consumed, water is drunk in equal quantity) a hangover will be the inevitable result. So enjoy the sensations! Do not regale everyone on the suffering you are experiencing or the fact you ‘should not’ have had those cigarettes. Just enjoy the memories of a fond night and know fully that these physical inconveniences are temporary. Much like our own existence.

So if you can’t have a bit of fun now and then, when else would you? Consume and enjoy; just please do not negate the experience as regretful (it takes the pleasure away!).