As of today, it’s been six years since I last smoked a cigarette. It was a Dunhill and I smoked it while standing outside a pub in London. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I was smoking my final cigarette but, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a good way to go out.
At the time I had already transitioned from being a chainsmoker to being only an occasional smoker. I cut back on my smoking because someone who I love asked me too. She was smart enough to ask me to cut down to half a pack a day instead of demanding that I just quit. Once I went down to half a pack, it was easy to then go down to a fourth of a pack and then eventually I was just smoking one or two cigarettes a day. A week after I smoked that final Dunhill, I realized that not only had I not been smoking but I had no desire to smoke. I had always heard horror stories about people going through withdrawal while trying to give up cigarettes but my experience was the complete opposite.
Looking back, I don’t regret the years I spent smoking. Some of the best friendships that I’ve ever had were formed while standing in a cloud of cigarette smoke. Only another smoker can know what it’s like to step outside after a long class or meeting and finally get to light up a cigarette. Only my fellow smokers could understand the pleasure of taking that first drag. The fact that the rest of the society hated all of us smokers and our habit only made our bond stronger. It was us against the world and, while the rest of the world might be able to breathe at full lung capacity, they would never know the pleasure of learning how to make smoke rings.
Smoking was good to me. I don’t miss the cigarettes but I do miss the culture.