Mind if I don't smoke?

About two weeks from now I will have not smoked a cigarette in five years. Perhaps that is not such a big deal, but it is quite a personal triumph for me. The reason is that I had smoked for about 29 years before giving up tobacco completely.

Those who smoke or have smoked know that smoking is more than just a bad habit. It’s also a snapshot of the current culture.

When I moved here to Beaumont, Texas, after living in Waco for seven years, I found it odd that restaurants still allowed smoking. I don’t know why I felt that way. Waco hasn’t had a non-smoking ordinance all that long. I guess it was just awareness or perhaps too much time on my hands. If I have a preference in a restaurant it is generally in a non-smoking area but I don’t make a big deal out of it either way. Cigarette and cigar smoke can bother me after awhile, especially if I am in a tightly confined space. But I made a vow when I quit not to be the self-righteous ex-smoker that always drove me up the wall. So far, I don’t think I have been.

I think back about just how much our culture has changed with respect to smoking cigarettes. I thought about it the last time I traveled by air. I remembered when I flew off for boot camp you could then smoke on planes. I also remember how I used to think nothing about standing in line at a grocery store, puffing away. Times have certainly changed.

Quitting smoking brings with it certain health benefits, the more the longer you have quit. But I would consider myself extremely lucky to have no ill effects in the future from my longtime smoking.

Being smoke-free has other palpable benefits as well. I have slowly regained my sense of smell. Although, since garbage service has been on hold the last two weeks due to the hurricane, that isn’t all that great a deal. My sense of taste has improved as well.

I have had a few flashes where I think about smoking, especially in times of stress. But they only last a nanosecond. I also remember a dream where I bought cigarettes but I didn’t smoke them. I think that is a good sign.

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