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So, here it is. After 15 years of purchasing between 1 and .5 packs of Marlboro Lights a day, I am finished. Finito, kaput, over and on to the next thing. Its been a long time coming, there has been pressure over the years from my parents and though there is definitely not much social pressure NOT to smoke here in Buenos Aires, there has been a definite roll-back among my close friends. I am here to declare I am now ready to join them!

Saturday night I attended the birthday party of a friend and got to chatting with the father of one of my peers. He saw us (me and M) smoking and we started chatting about his fight to give up the habit. He told us how it has been 10 years since he quit but that it is still a daily challenge and how he enjoys second-hand smoke and so on. No one which really had a major impact on me until he told us about how he got out of the indoor pool about 5 years and smelled cigarettes. He smelled the nicotine on his skin, showered and dressed and felt it on his clothes and later, once he was sure he was going nuts, he called a Dr friend to ask what the heck was going on. The Dr. replied that it was not out of the question, that his body had continued to store quantities of the nicotine he consumed as a smoker and that by sweating in the pool (because yes, folks, you do sweat when you swim, even if you can´t feel it) that his body was releasing these stores via transpiration, 5 years later.

5 years later. That´s disgusting. I mean, you can argue that there are a lot of disgusting aspects to smoking, stains on your fingers, on your teeth, the nasty smell that accompanies you everywhere, ashes, butts, not to mention the heavy hitters like emphysema, lung cancer, so on and so on. But I don´t think anything has ever penetrated as deep in my psyche as the idea of your body retaining these toxins 5 years after you quit. So, after said party, jonesing for a smoke on the way home, I bought a pack and ended up not evening opening it till the next day. And when I did, I said to myself “This is it, the time has come and this is the last pack of cigarettes you are buying.” Over the course of the next two days, I smoked through that pack as if nothing, until I got to the end. Suddenly there were 5, then 2, and then one last one which I smoked in front of an old friend with the declaration “This is it, I´m quiting.”

I´ve tried before, but never really in earnest and I feel already that this time is going to be different. My resolve is there, for one and my long list of good reasons why is ready too. Wanna taste?

1. Chip – having a Mom that smells like an ashtray can´t be nice. Plus, I made my mom quit at the age of 6 by repeating everything I was told in school (long live the mid-80s) such as “Mommy, why do you want to die? Don´t you love us?” After a few weeks of that, my mother, my French mother, who grew up in Paris, home of thousands of socially accepted smokers from all age ranges, gave it up. After about 17 years of a little stick between her fingers and a puff in her lungs, she quit. Because of me. Don´t I owe him the same love and respect I asked of my own mother?

2. M – while he was a smoker for a long time, since my pregnancy almost two years ago, he slowed down substantially and today, I am pretty sure if I wasn´t smoking all the time, it wouldn´t even occur to him. I want us to grow old together, but that does not mean pushing the other´s oxygen tank or IV pole around the house. So let´s do it in style and that is going to mean without a cig in hand.

3. Baby X – yes that´s right. I would like to be a mother again, any time now. In addition to be awful for a fetus once you actually conceive, I am pretty damn sure that there are no benefits to conception in cigarette smoking (as a matter of fact, I am pretty positive my OB/GYN mentioned this the last time around.) And since babymaking, while not super stressful to me, doesn´t exactly happen by simply looking at each other across the dinner table, one more element in our favor sounds more than right!

4. Me – yes, duh and yes, perhaps a little cheesy too. But true. The only way to make any meaningful change in your life is when you want it for yourself, because it  benefits you and because you are committed to that decision. I am pretty sure of this. And in order for any of this to be possible, you have to love yourself. I mean, really love yourself. And I do. I realize I have not been treating my body with the respect I should. I´ve gotten fat (yes, its true, 6 different and unrelated people, including my youngest sister have asked me if I´m pregnant in the past three weeks, but we´ll talk about that another day) and smoking and drinking excessively are not helpful either. So in addition to switching to salad till Sunday, which is a much more temporary but rewarding fix, I am not smoking any more. Period, end of story.