Cigarettes, who needs them? It was national no-smoking day yesterday, but my own Q-for-Quit day arrived last Tuesday, boosted by an encouraging 90-minute session with the amiable Chris Steele, the television doctor and international stop-smoking expert.
Generously giving away the remains of my last packet, I began chewing nicotine gum instead. Soon I accustomed myself to the hiccups one sometimes suffers from nicotine replacement therapy gum, but the jaw ache was becoming a serious problem. Between chews, I consumed five bars of mint chocolate as an extra comfort. Felt fairly sick.
I managed to get through Q-plus-two by drinking heavily to ease the pain messages from my ravaged brain. But on Q-plus-three I succumbed to temptation and stole a cigarette from a colleague who had carelessly left a packet on his desk. It had been giving me the come-on all day.
Yes, I had blown it for a suck on a ciggie after 78 hours without a single puff. It was then that I made a significant discovery.
Chewing nicotine gum while smoking produces the most delightful buzz, which is possibly why the manufacturers specifically warn against it.
On Q-plus-four, having confirmed my nicotine addiction and suffered the guilt of my weakness, I took a brave decision to fight again. I gave up the foul-tasting gum. I have now managed to go four days without any gum and kept to one cigarette an hour, noticing how well this has cured the hiccups and jaw ache and reduced my craving for mint chocolate. As I write, I am about to light my 3pm cigarette. It is 11.55am.
I am smelling like a bonfire again and having to resort to smoking beside the coal shed to avoid the attentions of my 11-year-old son, the Smokehunter General. But I feel proud. I have been true to myself. I feel neither guilt nor worry.
Dr Steele, who runs a stop-smoking clinic in Manchester told me had warned me that I might not at first succeed. Most long-term ex-smokers had usually failed to give up at several previous attempts, he said, and I should not get despondent if success was not instant.
My next effort will involve using a vaporizer instead of smoking cigarettes. I hear that the best one is called the Volcano. It’s quite expensive but top of the line. And even if I don’t manage to quit my addiction to nicotine, at least I won’t be inhaling all those nasty carcinogens. At least that’s something.