Mum, Dad, if you ever read this, I’m very sorry.
I am a smoker.
It’s taken me years to accept that.
It started with a cigarette or two scabbed off a mate at parties in high school. That didn’t make me a smoker.
Then I started university. I started going out every night, and would always have a few cigarettes. But I wasn’t a smoker.
University life centered around cigarettes. Hours spent on the lawn, lazily puffing away in the sunshine were a thing of heaven. Friends would come and go, people wandering to their dorms would stop and say hello, and suddenly an hour had passed. You would run off to class for an hour, and on your return a patch of grass would be saved for you.
I still wasn’t a smoker. I was a social smoker. I said that with pride.
And then I moved to London and started working in a pub. Everyone around me smoked – my flatmates, my colleagues, the people in the pub and the boys I liked. The only way I got a break at work was to pop out for a cigarette. There was no one around me to tell me no, no one to hide the smell of smoke from. And there was always someone to say ‘Cigarette?’ And who was I to say no?
So there we go. Here I am, 22 years old, and a smoker.
Stoptober is an initiative by the NHS to help smokers everywhere to quit – for good. A drunken night a few weeks ago with a couple friends somehow had me agreeing to take part in it. We have a bet: whoever fails first has to pay everybody left £5. And the next person to fail pays the last two left £5, and so on and so forth.
They reminded me of this the other day, and kicking and screaming, I’m rising to the challenge.
As I write this, it’s midnight. Ten minutes ago, my flatmate and I smoked our last cigarette in the kitchen with a fist bump and a synchronized lighting of our own torches. It was a bittersweet moment.
I’ll keep you updated throughout the month. I don’t think I’ll be the first one to break. I might even win this thing.
If you’re a smoker, why not take part as well? After all, it’s not forever – it’s just for October.