When I was fifteen years old I tried smoking, as many do at that age. I didn’t particularly want to, but I was at a party and peer pressure did its thing. 

I remember it clearly. They were menthol cigarettes. The party was at Newport on the northern beaches of Sydney. Of the two friends I was with, one was already a smoker and the other one smoked for a few years and gave up.

I quite liked it. But cigarettes were expensive (though nowhere near as expensive as now), and, more importantly, I knew that they were bad news.

We had had lots of education at school about the dangers of smoking. We’d even seen two preserved lungs – one of a smoker, one of a non-smoker. I’m not stupid, I knew it was a bad idea. Over the following week I smoked exactly five cigarettes.

There were three reasons I didn’t become a smoker back then.

1. I simply couldn’t tell lies to my mum. In those days smoking was legal in buses and I could easily have said I was sitting near a smoker on the bus, but I just couldn’t do it. That was the main reason.
2. My best friend was aggressively anti-smoking, and she helped to keep me away from them when we were out.
3. I met The Boy. He detested  it. Both his parents smoked and his father had died of a cerebral haemorrhage. 

So positive peer pressure and the influence of my mum got me past those years when kids often take up smoking.

I really believe I became hooked back then. I often craved a cigarette when out. I was lucky enough to have positive influences around me constantly to stop my taking it up.

Over the years I became a real anti-smoking crusader, a pain in the arse actually. Friends and acquaintances were lectured on the evils and the dangers.

And yet, I often craved a cigarette, especially if I was having a drink. Many times the only thing that stopped me was the thought of how disappointed The Boy would be. So in spite of those five cigarettes playing in my head, I never took it up. 

I had children, I worked, played sport and continually spread the word about the dangers of smoking.

Then The Boy had his stroke. It was a hell year, and at the end of it, I took up smoking. Only the odd one for the first few months, but after a year it was a habit. 

The Boy now smells cigarettes on me and shakes his head and worries. But he does not tell me to stop because that’s not what he does. I now realise he wouldn’t have stopped me back in the day, it was just his antipathy that did the trick.

So now, here we are. I’m a confirmed smoker of a pack a day and I’m giving up for the third time.

It’s bad for me. 
I can’t afford it (do the math, they’re twenty bucks a pack.)
But most of all, I hate being a smoker. It has a stigma attached which I’m happy to use as a tool to quit, but mostly I see the worry in my children’s faces every time I light up.

Today I started using Champix to quit. It has side effects, which is why I’m awake at this hour, writing. But it’s supposed to be a very useful tool in giving up the cancer sticks.

Wish me luck, my first smoke-free day will be March 17, St Patrick’s Day, a special day for me.

I’ll give up these smokes if it kills me.

I’d appreciate your comments and support.

NB: Information about Champix. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcmed.nsf/pages/pfcchamt/$File/pfcchamt.pdf