Have Chainsaw Will TravelThere is an involuntary twitch. A subtle, ever so slight stirring, a gentle pulling upwards and inwards of the right hand’s middle and ring fingers. It’s almost as if a small engine, of an almost undetectable motor function, has fired up. Without thought or provocation, the elbow bends. Raising the hand to skirt gingerly across the torso and come to rest on the left breast pocket. And though the motion is akin to it, it’s not a flashback to elementary “Pledge of Allegiance” prep… if that’s what you’re thinking.

Sometimes it actually is purely involuntary, committed without pause or cause. At others, it’s a reaction to stress or search for reassurance. Occasionally it’s just a quick check, to make sure you’re not alone.

Whatever the reason, the resounding effect is the same. As those twitching fingers find purpose and purchase, as they carefully, casually caress around the indented edges of the fragile, elongated rectangular box within that pocket. With this simple act there comes a sense that all is well with the world and a subtle sigh emits from somewhere within.

Yes, they’re there. Figuratively, as well as literally, so close to your heart. Twenty of your closest friends, ready to soothe your nerves and ease your mind. Waiting to be individually selected, set on fire, be burned alive and kill you ever so slowly, through what your nicotine addled brain discerns as pleasure.

For the sake of equality, and to be fair, perhaps there’s a variation on the theme. Maybe or rather it’s a purse or pants pocket that draws one’s hand. Regardless of destination, you still fall into ranks with the rest of us morons who celebrate shortness of breath and slow suicide at your own hands. You are a smoker (we’re talking cigarettes here).

But what degree of smoker are you? Are you a bluemooner: One of those freaky rare few who can smoke just one, at any random given time, with no visible signs of addiction? Perhaps you’re solely a social smoker: Bars, buddies, beer and cigarettes go hand in hand. Considering the regulations on public smoking, you’re a member of a dying breed. You’re not smoking on the regular, but denial doesn’t make you exempt.

You know you’re a smoker when you start measuring your nicotine consumption by packs. Light Smoker — ½ or at least less than a pack a day. Regular Smoker — one pack per day, hey it’s just one pack right? Hard or Heavy Smoker: more than a pack a day, every day, all day… basically if you’re consciously breathing, you’re smoking.

And leave us not forget the “10 O’clock People”. (Which incidentally is the title of a short story by Stephen King that is a must read for smokers of any degree. It won’t make you want to quit, but may encourage you to cut back.) These are heavy smokers who have tried to quit, succeeded for a short while, then picked it up again at a slower pace. They’ve found a comfortable middle ground between cessation and smoking, allowing themselves a smoke at only certain times of day or via daily rationing.

Yes, cutting back is a good thing. Asserting self-control over your addiction is another. But regardless of whether you’re smoking just one, on the 2nd Saturday, every other month or have one scheduled for 10 o’clock today, you’re still a smoker. Still subject to all the negative effects and potential venues for death as you were when you took that fatal first puff.

Now, we’re not going to discuss the health or financial gains when it comes to abstaining. Because unless you’re an oblivious dumba**, you can feel it and do the math. Yes, there are benefits to be had, but in the now you enjoy every aspect of smoking and just the thought of life without it sucks. So we’re not even going to bother trying to pressure you to quit with statistics.

If you don’t want to quit smoking, then don’t.

However, when and if you feel it is time to quit, you will know you’re ready and eventually you will succeed. Accept support but don’t let anyone tell you when or how. This is all you and it has to be the one situation you realize that being a quitter is a good thing.

I welcome almost all questions, comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me at [email protected].

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused! See ya.