Column: Weighing in on Weedless Wednesday

Who decided the (arguably) bleakest month of the year was the best time to kick the smoking habit?

They say confession is good for the soul. So, here it goes.

I am an ex-smoker.

Yes, I, who am generous with the side-eye any time I’m forced to walk through a cloud of someone’s poisonous vapour,  and who loudly voices my disgust at the sight of carelessly discarded cigarette butts — I, too, have nicotine on my hands.

Back in Grade 8, for about a week, I partook of the evil weed. Though, since I can’t swear that I ever actually inhaled, I’m not 100 per cent sure it counts.

My habit, such as it was, consisted of stealing a single pack of cigarettes from my dad and squirreling them away in a hollowed out tree trunk on his acreage.

Then, when the opportunity presented itself, I would sneak out and light up  among the trees — often when I was out for a ride on my little Appaloosa.

All was going as planned, until the day I accidentally left the pilfered pack on the bathroom counter, where it was discovered within a matter of minutes.

I can still see my dad standing over me, holding the half-empty package and asking, “Are these yours?”

“Well, no,” I replied. “Technically they’re yours.” (My inner smart-ass has never had a great sense of timing).

I’m actually glad I got caught.

Though, truth be told, I’d already weighed the pros and cons of my new pastime and found the scales tipping sharply toward the cons — bad breath, yellow fingers and teeth, the opportunity to look old before my time, the (eventual) expense and, at 13, the added stress of all that secrecy.

That’s not even taking into account the serious health risks, because what 13-year-old is thinking about that?

Was it that I looked cool?  I’m sure my horse was very impressed.

Like most smokers, I imagine, I don’t know why it seemed like a good idea to light up and take that first drag.

For those who are in the grips of an honest to goodness addiction, I feel nothing but compassion.

Quitting anything that makes you feel better — even temporarily — however bad for you, is hard.

But help is available.

Today is Weedless Wednesday. Not coincidentally (one assumes) it falls in the middle of National Non-Smoking Week.

And right now, through a provincial smoking cessation program, eligible B.C. residents can get free nicotine replacement therapy products, including nicotine gum, lozenges, an inhaler or the patch, by going to quitnow.ca.

Every little bit of support helps, but while the intent is laudable, the timing would be laughable, if any of us actually felt like laughing.

Yes, January is, however arbitrarily, a time for fresh starts.

“New year, new you,” and all that.

But let’s stop for a moment and really consider January. It’s cold (as we’ve lately rediscovered), it’s wet and it’s dark.

The festive holiday season is behind us and unless we’ve scheduled a sunshine getaway, all we have to look forward to is Valentine’s Day.  (I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets excited about Feb. 14, but I’m sure those lovesick weirdos are out there somewhere).

The official day to quit smoking is scheduled in a week that begins with what is widely accepted as the most depressing day of the year.  It even has a depressing name — Blue Monday.

It hardly seems like a recipe for success to ask people to give up something that gives them comfort when they have the least to look forward to — unless you enjoy a surge of

righteous indignation (and who doesn’t?) Those come free with being  non-smoker.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t give quitting a shot, if you’re ready.

Prognosticated gloom aside, whether you decide to butt out for good in January or July, today is as good a day as any to begin weighing the pros and cons of going weedless.