I am not perfect — this surprises many of you — but I do indeed know what “cold turkey” means.
There are many stupid things I have done in my life. The dumbest was starting to smoke cigarettes.
I can only guess that President Obama feels the same way, because it is the way any cigarette smoker should feel.
This is the 30th anniversary of my quitting,
Yes, I smoked cigarettes. Everyone, or almost everyone, did. It was part of the culture of my youth. If you did not smoke in those days, you were from some extreme fundamentalist sect that probably did not dance or play cards, either.
For years, with the urging of the major tobacco companies, I puffed away. That is, until I realized that my children were getting secondhand smoke, although it was not called that then. It just seemed not a good idea for them to have to breathe my smoke.
I stopped all at once. It was five days of misery, followed by months of intense temptation.
I quit smoking after 25 years of regularly puffing away. I started at the age of 12.
Do not get me wrong, I was not addicted and a regular smoker until I was 14. Between 12 and 14 I bummed, but never bought.
There is some strange sort of denial that goes on when a person places burning paper and vegetable matter in his mouth and inhales. It did not seem at the time to be stupid. The Marlboro Man seemed cool, although he died of lung cancer.
Rationally, smoking is not a smart thing to do. It ruins your health, the health of others and costs thousands of dollars a year.
The financial cost of buying cigarettes, lighters and new clothes to replace garments in which you have burned holes is significant. This does not count the cost of Tic Tacs, gum, Listerine and mints.
It seemed funny when Bob Newhart did a routine about Sir Walter Raleigh calling back to Europe to explain that he had discovered tobacco and how it was used. It was not very funny when we realized that we were intentionally inhaling soot.
It is now reported that New York has just passed a tax bringing the cost of a pack of cigarettes to over $10 — or $100 a carton.
A New Yorker quitting now will save enough in one year to pay for a whole boatload of cold turkeys.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4231 or e-mailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.