Grubby habit

Back in ’65, age fourteen, I started nicking a pack of ten Captain Cork cigarettes from our family dairy. It was the only brand I could reach behind myself while talking to Dad at the shop before heading to school. (‘Though come times I grabbed 10 De Reske (sp, De Riske?). They retailed then at 1s/3p per pack (-15p, which in ’67 became 12c).
After being “snapped” by big sister, Mum ordered me off them.

I started on Peter Stuyvesant twenties in ’69, peter stuyvesant pack
at which time they cost 25c.

I used to kid myself:
one cent each and five cents for the pack.
Stopping and starting over the years, I met two doctors whose attitudes stuck in my memory.
One used to label each smoking patient’s file with a red sticker…and if a red stickered patient (me) went for help with an URTI needing antibiotics, would refuse treatment. I remember challenging him…”So if you come across a car crash where the injured driver is drunk, you’ll walk away and not help?”
The other doctor (a fellow smoker!) advised me –and properly so– to quit smoking. I was cheeky enough to tell him “I’ll stop smoking when the last doctor or nurse in NZ quits.”

I continued with on again, off again, stopping once by cold turkey, after doc had advised I chew nicotine replacement gum. I read the directions: ” Chew the gum and roll it around in the mouth for three hours.”
Now, I taught at an Intermediate School, and spent half of each playground duty telling this or that pupil “spit out that gum,” and I was supposed to chew this for three hour straight? No way! Cold turkey, and stopped without any glitches until c. 1996 or so.

Cold turkey again after falling and breaking a hip in 2007 and because of a botched replacement and complications, a long stay in hospital. I was Not going to be one of those who badgered a nurse into wheeling the bed out to the public footpath for a smoke. (Not that understanding nurses weren’t available).

Started again around 2012, at three a day, up to five, or six some days. So many times over the years I’ve avowed, “I’ll stop when they’re a dollar a smoke”.
Today? A pack of twenty costs me over $24 – more than a dollar a smoke! So it looks like I will have to obey that vow, first made back in ’70. I have recently tried NRT patches. As I smoke only c five a day, my GP and I thought the Stage 3 strength would be enough. No; so I changed to Stage 2 – and I’m trying Stage 1, the strongest… which does work, but my dreams are unsettlingly weird and terrifying, and I cannot stay asleep. Heck, I’ve even thumped my loving husband while in a nightmare!

And we (my generation) have no excuse for smoking. As an eight to ten year old, I found anti- nicotine reading material was available to children back in the late 1800s!
In a future post, I’ll let you see the published material, from Smoking Land, a feature in Cole’s Funny Picture Book, 2.

While waiting, feel free to share your experiences in acquiring or quitting this grubby, self-destructive habit. Your comment is meaningful to me and other readers. Thank you


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