Last Thursday was the Great American Smoke-Out Day which went by for me who gave up cigarettes on 30 September 1996, in a puff of --well, you know what kind of puff. I smoked three packs a day for about twenty-two years. I started out smoking Pall Mall Reds (my father had smoked them for all the years I was growing up as a kid that he smoked until he quit).
They were a cigarette other smokers (we were all in college and let's just say smoking tobacco was akin to a palate cleansing exercise and leave it at that, okay?) were reluctant to bum as they were unfiltered so you needed to dry lip them or you flossed to remove tobacco from between your teeth.
I'm not a former smoker-I'm a recovering smoker. I don't know if it was the nicotine, the tobacco or whatever chemicals were supposedly put in cigarettes, but I was, and am, addicted and always will be. To this day, I miss smoking a cigarette, despite everything I know and believe to be true about the health dangers associated with it. And, hand on my heart but also on my wallet, smoking now is a danger to my precarious financial health.
I can remember back in the day, at the Air Force commissary at Rhein Main buying a carton of cigarettes for (maybe) six dollars. By then, I'd traded up through Pall Mall Golds to Benson & Hedges. Now, if I'm reading the signs correctly, it's close to and over ten dollars (American dollars? Yipes!) a pack with well over half of it in taxes, federal, state and whatever anyone can get away with.
I was of the last generation to watch TV ads for cigarettes and remember slogans like "I'd Rather Fight than Switch!", "A Silly Millimeter Longer, 101," and "Come to Where the Flavor Is." Look at old TV shows, to include newscasts, and you'll see Chet Huntley (of Huntley and Brinkley) smoking on the news set, on camera. Cigarettes were everywhere; there were "Show Us Your Lark Pack" commercials that eventually provoked the genius who was Stan Freberg to respond as only he could.
I try to take it easy these days on people who continue to smoke, because I appreciate how hard it is to give it up, even for a day even with all we know about what happens to us if we can't stop. So if you struggled with the nicotine monkey and was able to keep it at bay last Thursday, good on you and maybe soon you can take another step.
And if you tried but couldn't do it, don't worry-you have the power to make any day you want your very own smoke out day. And I hope you can succeed in kicking butts in the butt if you desire. Save your Zippos for those live shows now that you've sworn off cell phones.