Quit smoking six years ago today!

Yep, I quit smoking six years ago. I am happy about it. Tobacco is apparently one of the most addictive drugs? The percentage of casual users who become addicted is much, much higher than for cocaine.

Periodically I’ll hear a story from somebody where they’re like, “Man, my uncle quit heroin and alcohol and cigarettes thirty years ago, and the only substance he still gets craving for is tobacco.”

To which I have to say, what the heck? Who gets cravings for cigarettes? Basically the moment I’d kicked the physical withdrawal (I smoked a pack a day for five years), I was like…smoking cigarettes is insane.

Now I don’t think tobacco is the worst drug in the world. It’s clearly not. In fact, it’s amongst the least harmful drugs in the world. Nobody ever beat their wife, killed their friend, blew their life savings, or lost their job because of tobacco.

However, it definitely has the worst cost/benefit ratio out of all the drugs. I mean, alcohol makes your worries melt away and helps you forget life’s burdens. Heroin gives you the closest thing you can get to pure happiness in a bottle. Cocaine makes you feel like a god. LSD fundamentally transfigures the world and leaves you feeling like you understand all of reality in a new way. MDMA makes you feel an ecstatic communion with all of mankind. Amphetamines let you transcend your body and your mind and commit, fully, to whatever task is in front of you.

Now all of these drugs have negative cost/benefit ratios in my opinion (at least for me), but they’re at least fun! And sometimes useful!

Tobacco does what? In the beginning it gives you a tiny rush, lasting no more than a few moments. After a year or so of daily smoking, you feel nothing. Maybe a few seconds of ease. Really, at some point the only thing tobacco gives you is the ability to once more feel normal.

And in return it takes, on average, seven years of your life!

What a terrible bargain; which is why only those famed for their lack of foresight–teenagers and addicts–tend to take it up.

Quitting smoking was great. I’m very lucky I was able to do it. I quit cold turkey. It wasn’t very difficult. I had a uniquely easy transition. I did gain twenty-five pounds, which was no fun! But within two years I lost all that and more. I’m sure if I took up the habit again, I’d find it much more difficult to kick.

My body experienced all the typical benefits of quitting smoking: more wind; fewer and less severe colds; my cough went away; my circulation improved (I could feel tingling in my fingers and toes for months after I quit). But one unexpected improvement was that my overall productivity dramatically increased. I noticed, shortly after I quit smoking, that I was hitting my daily word counts in much less time.

I have three theories about this. The first is that when you’re addicted to cigarettes, you exist in a perpetual state of withdrawal. Every hour or so, you get antsy and distracted. Removing this drag on my productivity allowed me to do more. The second is that smoking just takes a lot of time. I was spending an hour a day smoking! That’s an hour of my life I got back. Finally, the most intriguing theory is that smoking broke my flow. All writers know that only a minority of your writing time is truly productive. It’s the 80 / 20 rule. you do 80% of the work in 20% of the time. And that 20% is the time when you sink really deep into the work and get into a flow state. For me, I think that having to get up every hour to smoke was hampering with my flow.

We’ll never know for sure, but in any case I’m thankful