So hard to kick the habit

As a nonsmoker, I’ve often wondered why people smoke, why they endanger their health, why they don’t just quit. I’ve heard, of course, that smoking is addictive, but until reading the results of a European survey, I didn’t realize how strong the addiction can be. The survey found that most smokers would find it easier to give up sex for a month than cigarettes.

Having barely made it through my wife’s recent pregnancy,
I’m finally beginning to understand how hard quitting
smoking must be. The survey has put it in terms I can
understand, made me realize that anyone who quits smoking
deserves nothing less than a presidential medal of honor.

Such people are true heroes, worthy of great adulation. We
should glorify them with statues and parades and national
holidays. We should name streets and stadiums after them. We
should erect signs that say, “God bless former smokers” and
“There’s nothing better than a quitter.”

OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but I can’t
help feeling amazed that many smokers have managed to
quit, considering that cigarettes — with all the nicotine
they contain — are more addictive than the only form of
recreation in parts of West Virginia. (Other than collecting
hub caps.)

The survey of 2,000 smokers was conducted in six European
countries, with Britain boasting the highest proportion of
respondents (80%) who enjoy sex, but would rather get
intimate with a cigarette.

“I always smile after sex,” said one British woman, “because
I can finally have myself a smoke.”

“It’s not that I don’t enjoy sex,” said a married woman.
“It’s just that a cigarette lasts longer. And if I suddenly
decide that I don’t want to finish the cigarette, nobody
complains. Nobody screams and runs to the shower.”

Even in France, a land where lovemaking is an art form,
nearly 70% would rather create an abstract work — on their
X-rays. “If you want to see true love in action, come to my
house,” said one man. “Every night, my wife undresses, comes
to bed and starts smoking. I don’t complain, because I know
which butt she’ll throw out of bed. I once told her that it
isn’t safe to smoke in bed and she reminded me, rather
coldly, that it’s better to smoke in bed than be a joke in
bed.”

But it’s not just women whose lives would be rough without a
puff. Many men are just as hooked. “The thing about
cigarettes,” said another man, “they don’t ask for a
commitment. They just come into your life and never leave.
You might get rid of them for a few days, but they keep
returning, keep visiting you, like a bunch of bad
relatives.”

Indeed, the survey found that nicotine is so addictive that
even after a heart attack, 60% of smokers light up again.
They know that smoking kills half of all lifetime smokers,
they know they’re lucky to be alive, yet only the most
determined ones manage to quit.

Ninety-year-old man: “Yes! After all these years, I’ve
finally kicked the habit. I’m a free man. From now on, no
more sex. I’m going to be celibate for the rest of my life!”

Friend: “Wow! What happened? Are you concerned about your
declining health?”

Ninety-year-old: “No, I’m concerned about my declining
wealth. That darn Viagra was so expensive, I couldn’t afford
cigarettes.”

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