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Up In Smoke March 30, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Economy, popular culture, Smoking.
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smoke2Today the federal cigarette tax is going up from 30 cents per pack to $1.01 per pack, the largest-ever increase in the federal tobacco tax.  Congress raised the tax in order to expand the Children’s Health Care program.  Some policy analysts have questioned whether or not such a broad program should depend upon the actions of a minority of adult Americans.  Only about 1 in 5 currently smoke and the latest price increase is viewed as an immediate way to reduce that figure to below 14% (or 1 in 7).  As fewer smoke, where will the financing come from?

In the interest of full disclosure, up until two weeks ago, I was a smoker.  My husband and I quit on March 14, 2009 – and except for a little backsliding when we were out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – so far so good.  Never mind the fact that we’re both eating everything that isn’t nailed down – we’ve been told that being enormously fat is still not as dangerous as smoking.  I’ll take their word for it, though I think the diet and exercise program has got to start pretty soon.

The thing is, I’m haven’t been telling too many people that I quit.  The danger of recidivism in smokers is very high; I know people who, even after having quit for 10 years or more, have times when they really want a smoke.  My poor mother, who had emphysema and a tracheotomy, told me that if she could figure out a way to keep smoking, she would.  It’s a powerful drug.  But another reason I’m not telling is because I don’t want to hear the “good for you!” cheerleading that inevitably comes from your friends and family.  I didn’t quit because I wanted to.

I’ll say it, I love to smoke.  If you’ve never smoked, I would never be able to describe the absolute sensuousness of having a cigarette, but to me the experience of smoking was perfect hedonistic pleasure.  It calmed me, it relaxed me, it aided my digestion.  It was the one thing that got me away from my desk during work.  It gave me an opportunity to walk away when I needed a break.  It provided camaraderie with all the huddled masses standing in all kinds of weather 50 feet from the entrances of my office building.  It was social but could be very anti-social if you wanted it to. 

No, we quit smoking because of the cost.

In the beginning of March, the tobacco companies and retailers raised their prices by $1.00 or more per pack in anticipation of the tax.  For an entire month, they pocketed the extra, probably as a cushion against any loss they may face if people did quit.  When the gas station guy told me that two packs of smokes were $14.50 – FOURTEEN FIFTY! – I nearly died on the spot.  Even going to the Indian reservation and buying them tax-free still cost $5.00 per pack.  I went home and calculated.  On average, my husband and I smoked about 3 packs a day.  At $7.25 a pack, that meant we would be spending $21.75 per day, $152.25 per week, and $7,917 per year on smoking.  Put in those terms, the choice was easy.  I mean, seven grand is a really first-class trip to Vegas.  I needed to get my mind right.

So we quit – and I guess we’ll be better for it if we can keep it up (and lose the excess poundage that’s piling on).  My cravings are diminishing, but they are still there.  I smoked for 30 years, so I know it’s going to be hard, but every time I see someone on TV or in the street smoking, I feel like weeping – I want it so bad.   I just feel like a perfect pleasure is gone – up in smoke.

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Comments»

1. Mary Snyder - May 22, 2009

I hope you are still smoke free…Keep up the good work!!! As a nurse it is the best thing you can do for yourselfs….

2. matt - March 30, 2009

This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

3. Up In Smoke — Best Free Quit Smoking - March 30, 2009

[…] Originally posted here: Up In Smoke […]


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