I'm on about the fifth attempt to quit. It's not as if I'm a heavy smoker - one in the morning, one after lunch, one when I get home from work, and 2 in the evenings is about normal for me. If I have a lay-in on the weekend I can go through till 3pm without a smoke. I never smoke indoors, anywhere, and can drive for 6 hours without a fag break.
You'd think it ought to be easy to stop with a habit that small but this is probably my tenth attempt to quit.
I'm surrounded by preachy non-smokers and even more preachy ex-smokers. You'd think this'd make it easier, wouldn't you? But, no. they are ten times more annoying while I'm trying to stop, than if I cave in.
My dad, for example, constantly begs me to stop smoking, but as soon as he knows I'm trying to stop he becomes utterly unbearable.
Last time I tried, he he seemed to get a kick out of reminding me every five minutes, that I haven't cracked yet. And, at the end of every day, he acted as though surviving a day without a smoke is about as big an achievement, as going a day without stabbing onesself in the eye.
The problem with a lot of cessation methods, is they actively require you to do something at the point where you'd be having a cigarette. Chew gum (why does that stuff taste so vile? I'm sure they've tried to emulate a "butt rescued from bottom of unemptied ashtray with a hint of mint" flavour), take a lozenge, suck on a fake ciggy...
And the Tobacco Taleban sieze on these events with unadulterated glee.
To get round the TT annoying me, I've tried some low strength nicotine patches (stage 3?)for a week, and my cravings during the day disappeared. From 7pm, though, I was absolutely climbing the walls with the craving coming back with a vengeance, not helped by having one wife, three kids and my old man reminding me every ten minutes that I haven't gone out for a smoke yet.
I swear, even a singularity can't slow time down as much as being needled by the TT. Still, I did manage to cut down to, er, two a day. One after the kids have gone to bed, another three hours later when the wife has finally given up reminding me that I've only had the one.
I went to the chemists for advice on Saturday, and he just insisted, over and over again, "With the patches you don't get cravings, and you mustn't smoke when you've got the patch on". And when I asked if I had the right patch for my habit, he insisted I didn't need anything stronger.
My hope is that this time I will be able to get to a point where I break the habit of sloping out; then I can wean myself off the nicotine.
So, as I had initially intended to quit last week but it didn't go too well, I went against the chemist's advice, got the next patch up, and today is officially Day One.
So far so good.
It's been about twenty hours since I last lit up and at the moment I'm feeling OK, but I am DREADING going home this evening.
Not because of the cravings, but because of the ruddy Chinese Water Torture I'm going to get from the family.