Thursday, October 22, 2009


This has been 72 hours fraught with nerves. On Monday morning, Husband and I stopped smoking.

And it hurts.

A lot.

The craziest thing is that we have both been here before. I smoked all through university, then quit when I moved to Scotland in 2002. I remained smoke-free for 3 years, until a bad breakup with the reason I moved to Scotland sent me scuttling for the Marlboro’s.

A few weeks before Husband and I married in 2006 (it was a short engagement, as mentioned previously), we agreed to stop again. (I think it was mainly because he was scared of his mom finding out. She’s a formidable woman.)

So stop we did, and it was a little easier as we had the excitement of a wedding, reunions with old friends, and an Italian honeymoon to take our mind off things. Incidentally, we started again almost immediately after his mother was out of earshot (or 'smell-shot' I guess would be more apropros).  So I'm not sure that time really counts as quitting at all - more of a little break.

This time is markedly more difficult. We actually decided to stop last Friday when we went on holiday. We lasted about 6 hours, which was the time it took to fly from Stavanger to Athens, check in to our hotel, and situate ourselves at an outdoor café.

We ‘stopped’ again every morning of our holiday, for approximately 5 hours, until we both got the post-lunch/ no-nicotine shakes, and went scrambling for a pack at the cruise ship bar. We finally pinky-swore that when we got on the plane to return home on Monday, that would be it. So we inhaled our last fag* at a hotel in Barcelona Monday morning.

Monday night was not too bad as we were busy travelling all day, and by the time we got home we were so exhausted all we could do was collapse into bed. Tuesday morning we both woke up feeling what I can only describe as seasick and hungover, rounded out with a touch of the swine flu. We mutually agreed speech was not necessary and both stumbled around silently, only stopping to frown or grunt at one another.

I’ll spare all the other details, but suffice to say, while it is not quite as dramatic as a detox scene from Trainspotting (oh, you know it if you’ve seen it!), it is rather unpleasant. Today I no longer want to shout at people, so I feel this could be the turning point. Onward and upward!

But why did we decide to stop?

Sure, there’s all the health reasons, and I am not minimizing them, but if they alone were enough then no one would smoke… ever… as we know cigarettes lead to bad things in your body.

We stopped due to simple economics.

In Norway, a pack of smokes costs about 80 nok. Since I smoked about a pack a day, multiply that 80 nok over 365 days. That’s 29,200 nok a year. But wait! Husband smokes the same amount, so that’s actually 58,400 nok. At today’s FX rates, that’s about $10,500.

I ask myself how likely it would be that I would set fire to $30 every morning when I woke up. I think we can all agree that just seems foolish. But I was effectively doing the same thing in the form of a cigarette. While that might not be an altruistic or health-concious reason to stop, it's my reason, and it works for me.

So, yes, kids, smoking is bad for you. But it’s not just bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your bank account as well. When I consider the entire cost of my MBA was what I spend on cigarettes in a year now, it helps put things in perspective (although smoking was decidedly more fun than the MBA, and it gave me more to talk about at parties).

So here I am, yet again a non-smoker. If we know each other in real life, it’s probably best to let the beast lie another few days before prodding its cage!
* As a point of cultural trivia, a ‘fag’ is what some Scots call a cigarette. Imagine my surprise. It led to all kinds of confusion, some funny, some not.