Look, I get it. You’re not an idiot. You don’t need some self-righteous ex-smoker, or anyone else for that matter, telling you that smoking cigarettes does some pretty nasty things to your body.
You’ve seen enough stark, graphic warnings on enough cigarette packets to know about the risks of contracting cancer, heart disease, and other such horrible, life-threatening conditions.
But hey, you’re a grown up, you can make your own decisions.
You can see as many SMOKING KILLS warnings as they can throw at you and decide that you’re going to smoke anyway.
And you know what?
I’m not going to try and convince you not to.
If you enjoy smoking, go ahead and light up.
We’ve all gotta die from something eventually, right?
Besides -and stop me if you’ve heard this one before- you might get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Let’s pretend that’s probable . I mean, it isn’t, obviously. The number of people who get hit by busses each year is remarkably small, especially compared to the number of smoking-related deaths, but let’s pretend that is.
Let’s say that there’s a chance you’re going to get hit by a bus tomorrow, or that you might wake up in the morning and spontaneously combust on your wake to make cornflakes, or meet your untimely demise in any number of gruesome ways.
Wouldn’t that make today your last day on Earth?
Wouldn’t that be all the encouragement you need today to live life to its fullest?
Wouldn’t it be enough to make you want to truly experience what it’s like to be alive?
Go ahead, go have a smoke.
I know I always wanted one more when people started talking about my impending death.
It creates an undercurrent of anxiety that is best countered with that sweet, sweet nicotine, doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing – even if you are going to get hit by a bus tomorrow, it’s impossible to live life to its fullest today if you’re a smoker.
It’s impossible to truly experience what it’s like to be alive, because the truth is this:
Smoking kills, but it kills long before we actually die.
The longer I go without a cigarette, the more I get to experience life, truly experience it, often as though I were doing so for the first time.
The more this happens, the more I come to understand that when they say smoking kills, they don’t mean eventually, somewhere down the line, one day.
They mean as I’m smoking. The moment I light up a cigarette, smoking kills me, instantly.
Because smoking stops me from truly living.
It stops me from experiencing what it’s like to be truly alive, and if I’m not truly alive, then isn’t it fair to say that I’m pretty much dead.
When I smoked, I was dead, dead to the idea that I could go outside, breathe in lungs full of fresh air and be filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
I was dead to the feeling of peace you get when your body no longer craves nicotine.
I was dead to the idea that I could wake up and actually enjoy my mornings instead of spending the first ten minutes of every day coughing my guts up, or that I could actually go throughout my day without a pain in my chest.
All of those things were normal parts of life when I was smoking, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that wasn’t living at all.
It was existence. Painful, often disgusting existence.
Smoking kills alright, it killed my chance to properly live.
I know this today because today, I am alive, truly alive, and life as I know it today is infinitely -I’ll repeat that, infinitely- better than the existence I had when I smoked.
I realised that I’d only really started to live when I could properly taste my food, properly smell my girlfriend’s perfume or climb a flight of stairs without being completely out of breath.
I realised I’d only really started to live when I could spend time indoors with friends and loved ones instead of standing outside in the cold, alone, sucking on a cigarette, and when the money in my pocket could be spent on previous memories and things that make me feel good, rather than another packet of poison that would run out before I even knew it.
Smoking killed any chance I had to really live, and to fully experience the things that make life truly matter.
Today, it’s not like that.
Smoking killed me once, but today, I’m alive, truly, completely alive, and there’s about as much chance of me trading this in for another cigarette as there is of me getting hit by a bus tomorrow.