Stopping Fags as I Pursue a Glorious Half-Century!

Posted on October 27, 2014

Since my mother died in 2003 I have given up smoking on several occasions, notably for six years, eighteen months and exactly a year, with plenty of other negligible attempts in between, ranging from an hour to a couple of days.

When I did my first stint of six years, courtesy of a hypnotist, I watched my step for a few a while as several of my fellow smokers had warned me I would probably get run over by a bus the next day. They would also tell tales of an uncle that lived to 96 despite smoking 400 capstan non filters a day since commencing working as a chimney sweep at the age of three.

Smokers love to disrupt the attempts of a friend trying to kick the habit, it is like they are losing yet another nicotine soul mate.


Smoking is an odd thing as it offers a wheezy chest, stained hair (if I had any) and teeth as well as clothes that stink, with the wearer smelling like the remains of Guy Fawkes in the early hours of November 6th. However, in my time, cigarettes have been a loyal companion during periods of unhappiness, boredom or drunkenness, ultimately making me feel worse.

As I get older a hangover is no longer a fuzzy head for a few hours, it is a 48 hour illness. With 20 fags as an accessory to the debauchery, an untimely death feels like a real possibility. So, just over a month ago, I stopped smoking altogether whilst once again, keeping well clear of buses for the following few days.

With the banning of cigarettes in pubs, the working environment, public transport, sports arenas, cinemas and restaurants, there really hasn’t been an easier time in modern history to pack it all in once again, although I must say, I wasn’t really smoking much anyway, I never really had the chance.

Smoking is now about as anti-social as it gets, with the poor old diminishing  cigarette community get lambasted from all corners of an increasingly self-righteous society, particularly from those who have battled to give it all up. Cured smokers can’t wait to brag about their heroics and demonise the poor souls who are still stuck in addicted misery.

The major issue smokers get made to feel guilty about is the drain they cause on the health system because of links to cancer, strokes, heart disease and just about any other hideous ailment you can think of, but I wonder about the whole truth behind these so called facts.

If everyone who lived to 80 was given a lethal injection, I could understand that people getting ill through smoking in their 50’s and 60’s were costing the NHS dearly, but everyone dies in the end. Sadly, whether it is smoking related or not, it is often in ungraceful circumstances and at great cost to the NHS after multiple attempts to keep the individual going; a bit like adding new spare parts to an old banger.

Death come to us all, not just smokers and if no one smoked it wouldn’t lessen the amount of people dying, as tragically, even people who live like like angels come to a bitter and often hideous end eventually. If smokers want to choose a premature death, let them do it, it will save money on long term healthcare and government pensions, plus they pay rakes of tax on fags while they are alive.

My mother died of a smoke and booze related stroke at 63, so she didn’t cost the NHS anything apart from a few nights in a hospital ward as her body shut down. However my dear old dad, an indestructible non smoker, has had heart bypasses, new knees and hips, veins removed and repaired, aneurysm repair and much, much more.

He deserves it all as well, he paid tax and national insurance as a man and boy but it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out who has cost the state more and that is without taking account all the tax my mother paid on her 40 Superkings a day.

Is the reason I stopped smoking again because I want to live until I am wetting myself in an acrylic armchair at a care home and and getting smacked around the head as a punishment? Why of course not. It is because it stinks, it gives me biblical headaches when combined with alcohol and it will ultimately curtail my ongoing attempt to score a half-century in a cricket match.

My only concern is what happens if that glorious half-century does arrive. What would I do with that sudden vacuum in my life that had previously been filled by what is, in realistic terms, an ambitious quest of a virtual impossibility?

I’d have a large cigar and a double whiskey I expect…either that or get run over by a bus the next day!

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