At the time of this writing, it’s 7:47 pm on June 29, 2005, and you’ll never believe what I’ve been doing. Well, maybe you will, but if so, it’s because you don’t know me very well.
I don’t know if you’ve ever bought Nicorette gum, and if you have, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the little book that comes inside of it. That’s what I’ve been doing, though, is reading that little book. It makes me sad kind of in the same way that reading the Holy Bible makes me afraid.
Yes, boys and girls, I’m going to try to quit smoking. In theory, today is my last day as an active smoker. I say “active” because I’ll never really abandon the brotherhood—non-smokers always seem like such jerk-ass punks, you know? I say “in theory” because I’m basically weak and weak-willed, and giving up the things I like has never been one of my strong points. Just the other day I included in a rant the fact that I lost my childhood teddy bear. Plus, living the delusional life that I’ve lived, I’ve gotten really good at rationalizing just about anything.
According to the Nicorette booklet, I will be done even with the gum—a total non-smoker, if you will—by September 21. According to my calendar, that’s Stephen King’s birthday. Apparently, Mr. King shares a birthday with H. G. Wells. These are the kinds of things you learn when your only source of date-reference is a calendar you got free from Half Price Books.
Out of curiosity, I flip over to my birthday. On my birthday, in 1608, John Milton was born. I don’t know who that is, but I bet he feels pretty special that his birthday is plastered on calendars almost four hundred years later.
But back to the subject. I have two cigarettes left, and I hear them weeping in my head. They’re lonely, they miss me, and they want me to make a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a carton of their friends. (Quick note: I wrote this all down on notebook paper because my princess was using the computer. At the time of typing, I have only one cigarette left, and it is even more lonely than before. Poor thing.)
There’s a giant batch of loose trivia, fabricated statistics, and random propaganda bullshit floating around inside my head, stuff that anti-smoking jerks have been pumping in since I was a grade-schooler: smoking turns your lungs into black, cancerous lumps of disease; every cigarette takes ten minutes off of your life; quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health. On top of all that crap, I also remember random things people have told me about quitting: after a week, the physical addiction is gone (even if this wasn’t a crock of blatant horse shit, it wouldn’t apply to me, as I’m using nicotine gum to keep my physical addiction strongly intact). The craving for a cigarettes only lasts an average of 45 seconds—if you can hold off for that long, the craving will pass. That one is also blatant horse shit—I haven’t even quit yet, and I’ve already wanted a cigarette non-stop for the last hour and a half (which includes the five minutes that I was actually outside smoking).
There are many, many more, but I’m not going to get into them right now. What I’m going to get into is Nicorette. Not physically, of course—that comes tomorrow. (Interesting side note: The Nicorette box is clearly made to anticipate nicotine junkies that are hard-core jonesing. There’s a bright blue diagram on the top of the box showing directions for getting the gum out of the package, and in big red letters are the words, “OPEN HERE” and an arrow pointing to the lip of the box.)
What I mean is, I want to talk about the Nicorette “system.” I smoke roughly ten cigarettes a day. For any of you asshole non-smokers out there, that’s half a pack. A pack of cigarettes costs around $3.50, unless you’re in New York City, where it costs an average of $50. My point is, I smoke about three packs a week, which comes to approximately $11. Unless I buy a carton—I do—which costs about thirty bucks. Thirty bucks for twenty packs of cigarettes equals about a dollar fifty a pack, or about five bucks a week.
If you buy a box of Nicorette, it lightens you up about $30. You open it up, you see all this gum, you think, “Okay, I’m cool for a couple of weeks—it costs just as much to smoke.” Then you read the instructions, where they tell you to chew 9 to 12 pieces per day. All of the sudden, Nicorette’s costing you close to sixty dollars a week! And by the end of the “program,” you’ve dropped $720!
Seven hundred and twenty dollars just to deprive myself of something I enjoy. Not only enjoy, but relish. You know what I think? I think Philip-Morris realized that smokers were dying left and right (and I’m not saying they died because they smoked—believe it or not, even you shithead non-smokers die in really terrible ways. It’s called old age, and it will get you no matter how many no-smoking laws you pass). Once they realized this, they came up with Nicorette, as a really expensive substitute for smoking. Not as a way to quit smoking, but as an alternative for when you couldn’t smoke. “In the commercials, we’ll have a guy that works around highly flammable chemicals all day, so he doesn’t get to enjoy the rich, satisfying flavor of tobacco,” On of the guys on the board says. “People will pay more for a smokeless alternative—this stuff will be flying off the shelves!” But the guy in the chemical factory opted for chewing tobacco, even though it made him look like a redneck dumbass.
So the cigarette companies invented the whole “smoking kills you” myth to invoke hysteria, and they made a mint.
Smoking gives you cancer? No shit. It’s the twenty-first century, man—what doesn’t give you cancer? It’s everywhere. I saw on the news this afternoon that Teflon causes cancer. Aluminum, tin, pretty much any kind of metal—they all cause cancer. Electricity causes cancer, smoking causes cancer, the freakin’ sun causes cancer. I mean, come on, man!
At what point will we as a society realize that we’re supposed to have cancer? Yeah, it sucks, but so does the smell of farts, so does body odor, so does acne. These things happen, though, so why can’t we just accept them?
Let me tell you something: we’re all going to die, and most of us are going to die from cancer. All you militant non-smokers out there, you’ll be just as dead as me, and you’ll die just as painfully. Unless you shoot yourself in the face, in which case you’ll only suffer if you’re a bad shot. You’ll never know how good you are unless you try, right?
I’m going to smoke now, but before I do, let me just say one more thing: You know all those stupid commercials they have about how smoking kills, and you know the whole “Truth” campaign where they try to get you to understand how evil tobacco companies are? That’s all crap. Quit spending money on commercials that air on national TV every fifteen seconds, and just put an ad in the paper: “Free Nicorette gum for anybody trying to quit. We take pictures of your lungs first, just so we know for sure.”
That’s the kind of thing you do if you’re serious about wanting people to quit. Otherwise, shut the hell up, and let me get back to The Simpsons.
A long time ago, I was talking to this girl, she was smoking her cigarette, and I was trying to convince her to give it up. She took a deep drag, blew it out at me, and smiled, "It's the 90's," she said, "Pick your cancer."