Sunday, February 11, 2007

The nicotine monkey becomes a gorilla

My name is Hilary, and I am an addict. A recovered addict, anyway. I was a nicotine junkie for almost ten years.

I started smoking cigarettes when I was 16. I was around people who seemed cool, and they smoked and seemed to enjoy it. My mom and most of her friends smoked when I was a kid in the 70’s. I had been around cigarettes a lot.

I hated it when my mom smoked when I was little. I would hide her cigarettes, break them and put them back in the package. Once I even sprayed them with laundry starch.

My mom eventually quit, or hid her occasional smoking a lot better. Years passed, and I became an invincible, immortal, omniscient teenager. I started smoking while at a summer debate institute at Dartmouth.

(Anyone who makes a comment about me being a former debater in a future argument gets a virtual kick in the shin. I. have. heard. it. before.)

My occasional bum of a smoke off of a friend quickly bloomed into a pack a day habit. I couldn’t laugh without coughing up a wad of black gunk after smoking for almost ten years. I was stalling on trying to quit for the fourth time when I found out I was pregnant with S. I cut down and quit within two weeks. That was 8 years ago.

Apparently only 20% of pregnant women who smoke quit. Most people who want to quit, can’t. I know I tried several times, and it is a strong physical addiction. Well, The Washington Post reported that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health proved cigarette companies have been steadily increasing the amount of nicotine in their cigarettes. More than half of the brands have increased the levels more than 10% in the past decade, and some have raised them more than 30%.

The cigarette companies definitely scare me. They make me want to reach for a tinfoil hat and put a forcefield around my kids. My free spirited and independent boy S already reminds me too much of me. I was no match for the addictiveness of the cigarettes of ten years ago. What will he have waiting for him in ten years?

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