A Day in the Life of a Smoker

A Fictional Account of Nicotine Addiction

A woman smoking
I won't quit smoking for anyone. Sabina Dimitriu / Getty Images

Does this day in the life of a smoker sound familiar? You may think that you don't want to quit. Or, you may have tried quitting many times only to fall back into your familiar smoking pattern. Consider how much of your life is tied up with smoking.

Morning

Your focus in the morning is getting your nicotine fix before the work day.

  • You wake up coughing. You know this will go on until you smoke your first cigarette of the day.
  • You're cutting back, so you try to make it until after breakfast. Unlike yesterday, you manage it, but you're really ready for that first smoke. After that, you know you can get through the day.
  • You get in two more smokes before work, knowing you will have to go for two to three hours without another cigarette.

Work Day

If you work outside the home, your opportunities to smoke are often limited. You have to exit the building or even the work campus to a place where smoking is allowed. As a result, you may have to go hours without smoking.

  • After the first hour, you start to feel on edge.
  • By the end of the second hour, nobody should talk to you.
  • By the end of the third hour, you are beyond irritable. Your next smoke is at the forefront of your mind.
  • Today, you last until lunchtime without a cigarette. But you smoke four on your lunch hour—one just to deal with the cravings, the second to relax, one after eating lunch, and one more to stock up on nicotine for the afternoon.
  • At 3 p.m., you go out for coffee and another smoke, hating the fact that non-smokers get to sit in the comfort of the coffee shop. You huddle in the rain, cradling your paper cup in one hand and your cigarette in the other. This annoys you so much that you speed-smoke another half cigarette outside the office before heading back in.
  • You need to get through two more hours before you can have another couple of smokes on your way home.

Evenings

Outside of work, you have more opportunities to smoke, but smoking can affect your social life.

  • You're running out of cigarettes now, so you stop off for a pack. You have to stand in line, and then you find out the price has gone up again. You can't believe how much a pack of cigarettes costs now. How do they expect people on a regular income to be able to afford to smoke? Thinking about how unfair it is makes you so angry you chain smoke three cigarettes.
  • Going to a restaurant, you know you won't be able to smoke inside, so you smoke on the way. The person seating you wrinkles her nose at the lingering tobacco smoke on you. You wonder why, as you can't smell it.
  • If have a spouse or housemate who also smokes, you may have no problem lighting up in the evening. But you may have to go outdoors to smoke.
  • If you're in the dating scene, you face more difficulties. It doesn't seem that long ago when offering a cigarette to a person you were attracted to was considered polite, even romantic. Now, admitting you smoke seems to carry more stigma that having an STD. Dating only other smokers really narrows down your choices. Tonight, you have a date with someone you're not that interested in, but being a smoker, you know you will have a lot in common. It won't be a problem that you will want to go somewhere where you can light up. But, the date is completely boring as smoking was the only thing you had in common. At home, you relax in front of the TV and smoke a few more cigarettes in peace. You might be on your own, but at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that no one tells you what to do.
  • You find yourself wondering if it is worth all the hassle and cost to carry on smoking. Most of the friends you used to smoke with have quit now, and you don't seem to spend as much time together anymore. Sometimes it seems like the whole world is on some kind of crazy health kick. Your parents were both smokers, and although they both died of cancer, nothing would make them quit. So you shouldn't have to quit, either.

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