I confess, I was a smoker for a good decade until I gave it up two years ago. All my friends were doing it and I thought it was the best way to fit in. I can not say I have fond memories of those years. The constant tickle in my throat making me cough was something I just tolerated. I quit cold turkey when I started having trouble taking a deep breath. If I would exert myself, even a little, I would get out of breath and it would take me longer than usual to catch it through all the wheezing. My health and my comfort were much more important to me than a cigarette. After a few months of not inhaling toxic smoke, my lungs thanked me and started working the way they were meant to work. I could breathe again. I could smell the roses again and food tasted great. Each time I felt the urge to have a cigarette I reminded myself of how it felt to wake up in the middle of the night coughing and gasping for air.
I remember when smoking was portrayed as the cool thing to do. The tough guys in my favorite movies always had that cigarette dangling from their lips. You would never see them coughing or running out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. The beautiful leading ladies of film would be puffing away on their cigarettes, showing off their pearly white teeth when they smiled instead of the yellow we all know comes from smoking. The days of glorifying this nasty habit are long past.
Think about how cool it looks when you see someone pressed against a wall, looking for cover under a tiny ledge in the pouring rain smoking a cigarette. I certainly never wanted to be that guy shivering with numb fingertips in freezing temperatures stealing a few drags outside their workplace just so they can get through the rest of the morning.
Most smokers I know say that having a cigarette relaxes them. The poisonous carbon monoxide contained within a cigarette binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing affected cells from carrying a full load of oxygen. That does not sound soothing to me. Smoking also increases the heart rate and raises your blood pressure. I must say that is the complete opposite of relaxation.