On April 24, 2016, I quit smoking. Unlike most who take up the habit young, I started in my late twenties. It was a stupid decision to start, bolstered by my arrogant belief that I could quit whenever I wanted. Turns out, quitting is tough.
My first attempt to quit was on a drive home from Vancouver to London. Stuck in a car for four days straight was the perfect situation to quit, however my willpower wained about a week after I got back to Ontario.
I’ve tried to quit a number of times since; sometimes trying the cold turkey approach, others with the use of nicorette gum or over-the-counter e-cigs. Each time I would either quit for just a day or two, or at best reduce my intake by about half for a few days.
Sometime before April 24, I purchased a Kanger SUBOX Mini from a small vape shop in Gastown called Vaporologie. While in the shop, one of the other patrons pulled out his phone to show me an app which tracked when he had quit smoking and how much money and time he’d saved since.
I returned home with my new toy, pulled out my phone, and downloaded the Quit Now iPhone app. It’s a simple app that tracks the days since your last cigarette and offers insights and encouragement along the way.
There were some false starts in the early days, but the pain of having to reset my quit date in the app grew stronger each time.
When friends of mine and I went on an incredible two-day hike to camp at Greendrop Lake in Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park, I made the decision to not pack my cigarettes. It was a gruelling 6km hike across four boulder fields and partway up a mountain to get to Greendrop and by the time I got home all I wanted was to relax and have a cigarette.
I went downstairs, lit the cigarette, inhaled, and filled my tired lungs with that sweet, sweet nicotine.
That was on April 24, 2016 and it was the last cigarette I smoked.
Until yesterday, that is.
On August 10, 2016, I got to spend the evening with my globetrotting, skydiving brother for the first time since Christmas. His team are in town this week for an airshow in Abbotsford. Rob and a couple of his buddies came by for a couple of drinks and to see my new neighbourhood. Not long into the visit, someone suggested we head downstairs for a smoke.
And that’s when it happened.
I asked for a cigarette.
It had been 6 months since the last time my brother and I smoked together. A lot of our deepest conversations over the last few years were with cigarettes in hand. The last time (and the first time in nearly a decade) I saw my father smoke was when he, my brother, and I were standing outside of the funeral home having just carried Mom to the hearse.
I can’t blame my brother because I asked for the cigarette. I asked because I wanted one. I had been wanting one for 108 days. I just hadn’t found the opportunity for rationalization until I’d had a shot or two of whiskey in me and my little baby brother next to me. But he didn’t offer, I asked.
After a second cigarette following a walk down to the beach, I went right back to my vaporizer — a new Sigelei 213 I purchased just last week on my 101st day — and have not felt the urge to smoke since.
Last night I sat down, told my partner, and once again felt the pain of resetting my quit date again.
That was on August 10, 2016 and it was the last cigarette I smoked.