I quit smoking about five years ago. In those five years, I haven’t wanted a cigarette once, which is a fact that surprises me every time I think about it. When I smoked, I dreaded quitting, imagining that it would be a state of always wanting to smoke again. When I stopped, I realized I love not smoking. Every single day as a non smoker is better than being a smoker. Once you get over the first month or so of going without smoking, it’s really great and you won’t miss smoking at all. I have no idea why they haven’t made an anti-smoking commercial that just says that.
So while all that’s true, I wanted to take a moment to point out some hidden upsides to smoking. None of them are compelling enough to make me want to smoke again, but they are real and they have an undeniable significance.
- Needing a cigarette is a great excuse to get out of a place for a limited time without having to leave or talk to anyone you don’t want to. As a non smoker, I still get antsy sometimes. Being someplace for longer than an hour makes me restless but I feel weird about just walking outside for 4-5 minutes to check the internet on my phone or whatever.
- It’s an easy way to create friendships and alliances. When smokers meet fellow smokers, they’re inclined to like each other. When you step outside of the building at 10:45 on your first day at the new temp job and Doris is out there freezing her ass off sucking down on a Kool 100, you know she’s gonna be cool as fuck or at least able to keep a secret.
- You always have a lighter. A couple of weeks ago I spent 20 minutes scratching up the surfaces of a hotel room trying to open a bottle of beer and felt like a genius when I figured out how to open it with a fork. I bragged about what I thought was a rummy Macguyver moment and a friend instantly replied that if I had a lighter the whole problem would have been moot.
- You have intimate knowledge of the seedier merchants in your neighborhood. If you don’t need to smoke, you never need to see the inside of a gas station at 4 a.m. unless you’ve run out of toilet paper, which makes for much less easy going conversation with the bemused Sikhs that run the place.
- Mothers of young children will point to you as a bad person/and or a cautionary tale. Nothing makes you feel more like the bad guys in Home Alone than when you overhear a lady explain to an adorable little tyke why you’re scum because you’re addicted to something they keep next to the scratch off tickets at the 7-Eleven.
- When you get sick, you get really sick. Seriously. A head cold will lay you out for upwards of two weeks. This doesn’t sound like a good thing until you’ve spent three days sipping on Nyquil and watching four seasons of Breaking Bad.
- It roughs up your voice a little. A lot of aspiring singer smoke because they think they’ll sound like Tom Waits or something, which never really works. But it changes your speaking voice into sounding like a background character in the Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 or Dog Day Afternoon.