Smoking / not smoking


Getting ready

Ever since I was a little girl, I had seen everyone smoke in my family. My mother was a chain smoker, and so was my grandmother Léa. My father also smoked for a long time, and had to quit because of his heart condition. My brother was also a smoker and so was my uncle Victor. The only person in the family who didn’t smoke was my aunt Fanny. My mother went on smoking until 1976. By the time she quit, she already had chronic and irreversible emphyzema and couldn’t even walk a few steps without being out of breath. Her last years were quite painful as she had to be attached to an oxygen bottle day and night.

Smoked out

H ave to admit that I quit smoking twice. The first time was in 1972 in the course of a trip to Egypt, when I caught some sort of bug which made me cough so much that I just couldn’t smoke for a few days. Quitting had been easy then because I was sick.
A year later, I met Roland, who later became my husband. He smoked heavily and when we started going out, I would sometimes take a drag out of his cigarette. And little by little, I started smoking again.
And that time, I was even more of a smoker than before. I can’t say how many cigarettes I smoked every day, because it depended how early I got up and how late I went to bed.
A few years later, I realised that every time I lay down, I started coughing to the point that I couldn’t sleep. Roland and I decided that we really had to quit! Someone gave us the address of an acupuncture doctor who specialised in helping people quit. So we went there, got some needles into our ear, which really hurt a lot, I thought, but proved to help us. The first week, we did do stuff like buying a pack of cigarettes, smoke one cigarette and throw the pack away, which was pretty humiliating, but after a second session with the acupuncture guy, we finally quit.
I have to say that that second time proved much more difficult than the first time. I experienced withdrawal symptoms, cramps, general irritability and discomfort. I also put on twenty pounds which I never lost afterwards. And that summer when we left for the Philippines with our rucksacks containing more clothes than cigarettes for the first time in our lives, proved very difficult for our marriage. I always thought that having survived that summer, our couple would have survived just about anything.
The cough eventually disappeared and we were pretty pleased with ourselves after a few months.

I took the first photo some time ago in Paris, Place Saint-Sulpice. You can see one of the cows of the Cow Parade in the background. The second photo was taken in Versailles, probably after some people had taken a smoke break outside.


8 thoughts on “Smoking / not smoking

  1. It’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve attempted it twice,
    also due to being sick. And yes, I resumed smoking.
    I know the risks, I know the downfalls, etc. and worst of
    all, I’m an RN and should know the negative more than
    anybody. AND yet… cigarettes and lighter sit beside
    me here at the computer.

  2. I’m so very grateful I never started smoking. I tried it a few times and just couldn’t get used to it. Then, when I started dating Jack’s father he told me he disapproved of women smoking because he thought it looked “cheap”. That was that for me.

    I really enjoyed this post, Claude—esp the acupuncture ordeal. Like most folks who try to quit it sounds like you tried almost everything. So glad you finally kicked the habit and stayed around to enrich our lives.

  3. Re your question about whether I ever smoked the pipe I was given as a gift…
    I don’t recall ever using the pipe very much while I was in the Army. Carrying all the paraphernalia a solider needs to carry–ammo belts, musette bags, rifles, etc.–there never was much room to carry the paraphernalia that pipe-smokers need to carry, such as tobacco pouches.But I did become a serious pipe smoker in college and while working. As an adult, I no longer was concerned about the “professional look.” But the pipe was a great source of comfort coping with the pressures and tensions that came with reporting. I stopped pipe smoking at least 20 years ago soon after the link between cancer and tobacco began scaring people. I still miss smoking the pipe and have often been tempted to resume using it. I gave all my old pipes to my oldest grandson, when he was a small boy, for use in blowing bubbles. Sherwood and other pipe-devotees would have been shocked by the desecration.

  4. Hi Claude, I smoked for 15 years, including 8 years when I lived in France. Everybody in Paris, it seemed, smoked back then. And I had grown up in North Carolina — tobacco country — where everybody smoked back then too. I quit in 1982, the point at which I was leaving Paris to move back to the U.S. and find a “real” job after years of knocking around Paris.

    Quitting smoking was the hardest and best thing I ever did, I said in 1980s. And then in the 1990s, with the stress of my jobs, I started “messing” with cigarettes again. I never again got completely hooked, but I smoked on and off for 8 or 10 years. Now I’ve quit completely and am not even tempted, thank goodness. Besides the way it damages your health, it’s just too expensive nowadays.

    I remember when our friend Bob had acupuncture to stop smoking. I vaguely remember him telling me you did the same, even though we had never met back then. –Ken

  5. I remember going out to a doctor’s office in Creil with you, Claude, and Roland, for an acupuncture
    treatment in June 1977. After the one session, I was able to quit but for most a good part of that summer,
    I carried a pack of cigarettes around with me. About 4-6 weeks after the acupuncture, I remember giving
    my final unopened pack of cigarettes (Gauloises filtres) to a friend whom I was visiting in Bergamo; Ken’s
    memory of my having acupuncture comes from my telling about that memorable session. I don’t remember the
    acupuncture being uncomfortable at all. Following the session which consisted of needles in the nose and
    around the face and scalp, the doctor said that without willpower, the acupuncture wouldn’t be successful.
    I recall really wanting to smoke for several weeks, but it did pass. Even now, 29 years later, I occasionally
    catch a whiff of cigarette smoke and like it. But I don’t think anything could entice me to begin again.

  6. Well here I am chain-smoking and reading your blog. Quitting is easy, I’ve done it at least three times this year alone. Smiles to you Claude.

  7. The “first time” I quit smoking, I recall being told “No one ever quits smoking, they just quit buying cigarettes.” That statement proved to be prophetic at that time, until I felt guilty and resumed buying my own. Why did those smokers so willingly give me a cigarette when I asked, knowing I was trying to quit?? The price cigarettes are today, they might not be so willing.

    The “second time,” nausea in early pregnancy when I lit a cigarette, or sipped coffee told me that my body was telling me something, so I immediately ceased both with no problem…for ten years or so.

    When I resumed smoking again, at a time when I could not possibly have been more well-informed about the health risks having just viewed colored photos and films of real life individuals in all states of hideous disease, some struggling for every breath, some smoking through a stoma, I realized as I lit the cigarette that this action on my part was an unconscious, now conscious, death wish.

    Some ten years later, I concluded that I would stop smoking, finally. The method I chose, was to simply stop buying cigarettes, nor did I borrow any. I don’t know if the mindset that I wanted to quit smoking made the difference with the ease in which I accomplished this goal or not. I only felt any desire to light up again, at most, for two weeks after my last cigarette.

    I don’t keep track of how many years it has been, since I believe focusing on such an anniversary is counterproductive, drawing unnecessary attention to the behavior.

    Like you, Claude, I added extra pounds which I’m sure I could have avoided had I only weighed myself weekly, or at some regular interval, taking myself in hand when only a few pounds over.

    I believe that if a true sincere desire to stop smoking is present, the smoker will be 100% motivated and will have little difficulty doing so. My mindset on the failed trys was not conducive to success. If the smoker is ambivalent success may be also.

    I believe too many of us have received the message that stopping smoking is a much more difficult behavior to change than what it is. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, certain types of health care providers, celebrities, friends and relatives do their share in perpetuating this idea. People believe it. We live what we believe.

  8. Pingback: Blogging in Paris » Smoking stories

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