Fuck you Philip Morris!

I’ve been smoking for close to 25 years, but for some reason I don’t look like this yet:

But still, I don’t really feel like waiting until my face looks like an old wrinkled ass with a cigarette sticking out of the butthole.

Truth is, what motivated me to quit was a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. She’s 37, a few years younger than me, and we were drinking and talking about life choices, and the next day I was like, “fuck smoking! I’m gonna quit!” Maybe it was the hangover talking.

So I mentioned this to another friend who happens to be a heavy drinker AND a heavy smoker, and she quickly produced some pills that would help me quit. I knew one of them was Champix (aka Chantix in USA), but I didn’t find out until later that the big pill was Wellbutrin, a stop-smoking drug that competes with Chantix. My friend isn’t a doctor but she was telling me to take both of them together, twice a day. After talking to an actual doctor, I decided to get a Chantix prescription of my own. I gave the Chantix/Wellbutrin collection back to my friend.

My first observation has nothing to do with Chantix itself. It’s just that getting a prescription in Korea is laughably easy compared to in the USA. In America, if you go to a doctor’s office to get a prescription for a smoking cessation drug (or any other pill for that matter), you’ll have to fill out a 10 page questionnaire about your medical history and some bloodwork might also come into the picture.

Here in Korea, I walked into a doctor’s office and said, “Hi, I’d like to get a stop-smoking drug”, and the doctor asked me, “do you have any health problems?” and I was like “uhhh no” and he wrote me a prescription right there on the spot! I don’t have health insurance, but even so my 10 minute visit only cost about $15, and then I was merrily on my way.

So I’ve been on Chantix for almost two weeks now. Week 1 was easy because, according to Pfizer, you can still smoke during this time. This is awesome because the cigarette every smoker fears is the last one before you “officially” quit. Being able to smoke for a week into the quitting process somehow reduces the sting of extinguishing that last cigarette.

So I smoked from February 24 – March 1 (that’s 7 days including leap year), and my first day as a non-smoker should have been 3/2/2012. But it wasn’t! Late that night on March 2nd, my first day of taking a “full dose” of Chantix (1 mg, twice), I really wanted a cigarette and I justified my weakness by wondering if the Chantix was “working” or not, so I smoked a Marlboro Red. I hadn’t had a cig in about 24 hours which, for an addicted smoker, is like 10 years, but smoking that cigarette didn’t do a ton for me. It satisfied my habitual need to smoke, but I didn’t get any head rush or the typical feeling of awww yeahhh that’s the stuff.

March 3rd, I did the same thing. I went 24 hours without a cigarette, smoked one late at night, and was only mildly satisfied with the experience. March 4th, same.

Today I’m at the tail end of my 3rd full day without sucking death out of a filter tip. In all honesty I would really love a cigarette right now and that’s part of why I’m tapping out this really long post, but something tells me that if I give in it’ll be a losing proposition. I might enjoy the way the smoke feels in my throat and my super-black lungs, but I know my brain isn’t gonna high five me because it’s now programmed to disregard nicotine, and all I’ll be left with is the feeling of total failure! I actually don’t mind failure (I see it as a necessary evil when trying to achieve success), but if I give in and light one up it’ll be kind of like asking Philip Morris to personally come to my apartment and torture me some more.

I’ve cheated a little, but I think I’ve made it over the hump. It wasn’t easy. I’ve been over the hump before… I actually quit for about 3 months back around 2003, but it didn’t last. Maybe that was because I was only quitting because I wanted to pork the two girls who were asking me to quit. That never happened! This time around nobody’s asking me to quit, but there’s some irony in the fact that my heavy drinking/heavy smoking friend has become increasingly “friendly” in recent weeks and now her cigarette breath makes me want to fucking puke. Let’s just call it poetic justice for my decades of polluting other people’s air.

P.S. Chantix has “side effects” that range from crazy scary dreams to suicidal thoughts. I’ve had none of this. But then again I have no history of depression, crying over a Grand Slam Breakfast, hurling heavy objects at sex partners, brandishing guns and knives in a creepy way, or freaking out over nothing. I’m very glad that I’m freeing myself of cigarettes, but if you’re a head case (and you probably know if you are) then maybe Chantix isn’t for you.

posted by Michael in Whatever on 3/7/2012 | No Comments