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Confession of an Unrepentant Ex-Smoker. 810 (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Confession of an Unrepentant Ex-Smoker.

As a preteen in the 40’s,I’d sometimes swipe cigarettes from my parents’ packs, left on tables. Then hide behind the garage to smoke them.

Later, in grade school, I found ways to buy my own. For we boys, smoking was a right of passage. Most of us did it, though normally only carrying four or five at a time. Those little sample boxes containing four cigarettes were perfect, being used until they fell apart.

There were also “four Packs” of candy cigarettes, easily replaced with the real thing and rarely noticed by teachers.

We boys would typically carry around a round pocket watch -- most trousers contained a built-in pocket for it. Also, all grade school boys carried a knife, a switch blade if lucky; a cigarette lighter, Zippos much preferred; a cigarette Four Pack; and a few marbles for use at recess. Maybe a short pencil or fountain pen. That was before ballpoints.

In our teens it was the same except that the marbles left, Four Packs became full packs, and the addition of a Church Key to open cans of soda and beer.

Back then I remember being asked how many of my friends were smokers. After mulling it over, I had no definitive answer. I only knew two anti-smokers. One was a schoolmate that wouldn’t let me smoke in his car, the other an aunt that was a cleaning freak – no smoking in HER house. Her husband spent most of his time woodworking in the basement.

I identified several non-smokers that didn’t make a point the matter. Two that stood out by keeping coins in their car ashtrays. Otherwise they didn’t stand out. In other words, some smoked, others didn’t but made no objections, and only two would be classed as anti-smokers – one of the latter due to nasty ashes, not health.

I remember reading that over 70% of American adults smoked, at least occasionally.

Smoking was allowed almost everywhere, restricted mostly for safety reasons, around explosives or inflammables.


When I first joined the US Army in 58’, as in civilian life, smoking was allowed almost everywhere. When at work or in training we were given “smoke” breaks. Again, the majority of my acquaintances smoked. During that period, I can’t recall ANY vocal anti-smokers.

The first health craze Remember was with Number One Red food dye. Then came Thalidomides with its birth defects. Something about smoking that I shrugged off. Too many eggs being bad for you. A brand of sanitary pads killing women.

When in Vietnam I remember seeing dozens of pallets of Cool Aid being burned because of containing sodium cyclamates. Maybe more about cigarettes? Ignore it. I still use old Cool Aid, eat all the eggs I want, and smoke three packs of Salems a day.

Somewhere during that period I DO take stock as to all the carcinogens I’ve been exposed to up to then:
DDT -- exposed both on the farm and in the army.
Radiation –- in many ways over the years.
Asbestos – often when young.
Lead paint – often at work in my teens.
Diesel fumes – often
Chlorine gas – army
CS gas – army
Agent Orange – slight army.
Cigarettes – very often throughout life.

I did, twice, request packets of information from several health organizations, receiving manila envelopes of information. Each request was for only proof, no conjecture please.

Each time, Sat with a blank tablet and pencil, going through each pamphlet jotting down only researchable facts, no opinions. Facts along with their sources. On both occasions I ended up with blank paper. It was only scary opinions by unspecified experts.

Is it any wonder I had problems with believing that “proof”?


That’s the way I thought until about 2000, when I bought my first electronic cigarette. It was lust at first puff, supposedly much healthier and, even more important, cheaper. My nicotine cost dropped from several hundred dollars to about sixty a year after the initial cost of the e-cig.

Yes, all that anti-smoking crap was having an effect.

Then, around 2017, I was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. I went through radiation and chemical treatment but expect to come back at any time.

For that reason, I no longer smoke. I don’t necessarily blame smoking, seeing that long list of possible causes.

After quitting, I’ve not noticed extra money in the bank, and cannot smell smokers. If smoking was not so painful for me I’d probably go back to an e-cig. Addicted or not, I truly enjoy the taste, feeling (addiction?), and process.


Olly Buckle

I identified several non-smokers that didn’t make a point the matter. Two that stood out by keeping coins in their car ashtrays.

'Point of the matter',

but stylistically I would modify it a bit further,
I identified several non-smokers that didn’t make a point of the matter; two stood out by keeping coins in their car ashtrays.

I will always look for ways to lose a 'that'.

restricted mostly for safety reasons, around explosives or inflammables.
'restrictions were mostly ...' ?
The first health craze Remember was with Number One Red food dye. Then came Thalidomides with its birth defects.
'I remember' thalidomide, singular, not capitalised. Spell-check should have red lined that.
cancer of the esophagus.
oesophagus, another one spell check would have caught.

'but expect (it) to come back at any time.


Senior Member
Funny. The word is derived from Latin.
Eso - Hidden/Inner
Phag/Phago - Food
-us - passage (perhaps British English spells it, -ous)


WF Veterans
It's good to see someone posting in the Non-Fiction section. Thanks.

I like minimalism, but I'd just flesh this out a bit. It reads more like an outline than a full piece.
But that is not a bad thing. To me, it is always easier to bulk-up rather than slim down. A bit more detail, then the knife.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Senior Member
I enjoyed the write.

You might evolve the draft toward 2000 words with some scene setting?

Pleasure in the Americana, the lads sparking up in '49, toward a Vietnam 'scene' that is still smoking, and then the same good ole boy with this hole in his neck in our own year 2020. A couple of rasping breaths out the hole, then some typical nerd-neighbour visiting, & holding a bunch of grapes, berating our smoker, wearing his jogging apparel, talking in a duck voice...and our MC lights up, sticks on the cowboy hat, blows smoke into nerd's face..? A soundtrack of Motley Crue, Bruce Springsteen. 'Better dead than 10 years with you Mr Ed kind of philosophy..

One way to go..

Think about in the orosophoguris