Footloose and tobacco free

Melissa Stagnaro

I give my co-worker, Brian Golden, all the credit in the world for his decision to stop smoking. Sure, on a certain level I’m being completely selfish. None of us particularly relished catching a whiff of the old man when he got to work in the morning, or when he returned from a quick smoke break outside. (Breaks which us non-smokers in the office don’t take, I might add. But that’s another topic entirely.)

Of all days to begin his nicotine withdrawal, Brian chose the one on which the entire ES editorial staff embarked on its first interstate excursion. Despite his instance that he was fine, we could see he was fiending for a cigarette like no tomorrow. But only once or twice did it get to the point where I actually considered buying him a pack just to get him to chill.

I also questioned his decision to announce the fact that he was trying to quit to all of our readers via his column last Wednesday. I mean, that’s a lot of people watching his every move, waiting for a false step. But I guess it’s a sign of how badly he wants to do this. Because if he doesn’t succeed, he’ll have to admit it to the world.

There is something to be said for the entertainment value of the whole smoking cessation process, for onlookers like myself. The jitters, the emotional outbursts, the descriptions of the patch-induced nightmares the pour soul is suffering through… My favorite, though, is the recounting of how those who call themselves are contriving to undermine his Herculean efforts at quitting this heinous habit.

While I admit I laughed at Tyler’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we all take up smoking – at least I assume it was said in jest – I have nothing but contempt for those who have tried to tempt, taunt and cajole poor Brian into falling off the tobacco-free wagon.

It’s beyond cruel, really. I mean, what do they achieve if that puff of smoke they’ve blown in his face really does send him reaching for the pack of cigs we all suspect he has stashed somewhere?

While I have never been a smoker, I can appreciate how difficult quitting can be. I’ve watched many a close friend and family member attempt it. And yes, many of them have succeeded. But even I could tell it isn’t easy.

But then, smokers are used to enduring hardships, aren’t they? They brave the elements as they cluster outside to get their nicotine fix. They face ridicule and disdain from non-smokers where-ever they go. Laws have been enacted to restrict their rights. Federally (and ironically enough, tobacco industry) funded anti-smoking campaigns turn their children against them. Heck, they’re even penalized by their insurance companies. Yet they continue to smoke. Even though they’re practically going broke doing it. Seriously, what are they $8 or $9 a pack in New York?

After all that, quitting should be a snap after enduring all that, right? And it probably would be, except for the whole pesky addiction thing.

I know it will be a long hard journey for Brian to kick his smoking habit. But I have every confidence that he will succeed. Especially since we’ve all got his back.

After all, he has to walk past my desk on the way to his own. And nothing escapes my nose.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.