The Last Smoke

21 01 2010

$39,312  – That’s the rough figure I came up with for how much I have spent on cigarettes in my life.  It’s probably a little on the high end of estimating as I based it on $4 a pack for 18 years at 1 and a half packs a day, yet when I started smoking they were only $2.18 a pack and I only smoked one or two cigarettes a day back then, nor does it figure in that for about five years I paid the NEX price for cartons which made them two bucks a pack.  That also doesn’t include almost 2 full years of not smoking.  But I figure with the most recent increase in the cost of cigarettes, it probably all balances out and makes the 40k ball park a fair estimate.  It’s not as scary a number as I actually thought it might total up to, but it’s certainly a figure that I wish was in my bank account now.

I’ve spent about ten minutes looking at my last two cigarettes.  I am contemplating putting one on my desk, as a reminder.  We’ll see.  The downside is that it could also serve as a crutch in a moment of weakness and I don’t want that staring me in the face. But as I think of the significance of having my former habit sitting at arms’ length yet untouched, I kind of like the way I can picture me feeling about that.

I began doing some research tonight, in part to bide my time til that last smoke, but also out of curiousity as to how soon my body will begin to heal from almost twenty years of smoking.  Here’s what I have found from the Palo Alto Health Research site:  within 72 hours of the final cigarette your blood pressure is normalized, heart rate is normalized, body temperature of extremities is normalized, carbon monoxide level in blood is normalized, oxygen level in blood is normalized, chance of heart attack decreases, nerve endings begin regrowth, lung volume increases.  In fairness I will say my doctors have always said my blood pressure is spot on as is my heart rate and lung capacity.  The site also doesn’t note the percent by which heart attack risk is decreased.

I’m smoking the last cigarette now.  Well, 1 of the 2 left in my pack.  For now, I am putting the ‘last’ cigarette in its pack and setting it on my desk.  I’ll decide later how much of a risk that leaves for me.

It’s kind of odd as I sit here now, contemplating this whole notion of quitting.  I’ve smoked for so many years that it’s become a part of my routine.  My daughter was even commenting earlier about how half of the time I just light it and run my mouth while it burns away and it’s so true.  I’ve burnt up so many cigarettes without taking more than one or two puffs.  And at a rate of roughly 20 cents a smoke, that’s a lot of money I threw out.  But by the same token one can say that I’ve thrown out even more with what I have smoked.

Forty thousand dollars?  That’s more than my college tuition is costing me.  If only cigarette butts could be turned in to collect on like an escrow account.

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