Magazine article The Spectator

Never Say Never

Magazine article The Spectator

Never Say Never

Article excerpt

I promise I'm going to come up with some hot musical recommendations this issue, but I must thank those Spectator readers who wrote about last month's column in which I announced my intention to stop smoking.

The letters -- all from reformed smokers -- were full of kindness, sympathy and practical suggestions, and they have spurred me on. I was especially moved by a letter from a 91-year-old former prisoner of war on the Burma-Siam railway who said smoking had been a lifesaver during that terrible time. He continued to smoke during his working life, and found it a great help, and gave up when he retired at 60. Now he says he finds he doesn't want whisky, either. One can't help glumly wondering if life is merely a process of abandoning our pleasures.

Anyway, the hot news here is that although my stop-smoking deadline was 3 March, the day before my 51st birthday, it's actually already ten days since I last had a fag. My dear old Mum gave me Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking, and, though it's sometimes a tiresomely chippy and self-congratulatory read, it also contains a great deal of good sense and, more importantly, seems to have done the trick.

One of Carr's main points, and it was one I'd worked out for myself the last time I gave up, before relapsing in the Priory, is that smoking is actually the least rewarding of habits. It offers almost no bang for your bucks. Drink a bottle of whisky, smoke a spliff, snort a line of cocaine, or get a fix of morphine, and at the very least you can say you've had a proper hit. All tobacco does is create a need that wasn't there in the first place. You don't smoke fags to get high, but merely to return to a state of normality. Cigarettes create the stress they claim to ease, and the only satisfaction is in scratching the itch that the addiction itself has created. I think Carr is also right to warn against nicotine patches and gum. It's like telling an alkie that he must stop drinking but it's perfectly OK to sniff other people's drinks. It merely prolongs the agony. Cold turkey is the only way.

Quitting hasn't been nearly as bad as I feared. You get occasional twinges, a passing feeling of empty vulnerability, but the claim I've frequently heard that giving up smoking is as traumatic as giving up heroin is manifest balderdash. I've seen people coming off smack, indeed I've seen people trying to do a kick-boxing class while coming off smack, and stopping smoking simply isn't in the same league. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.