Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

A couple of years ago while still living in London, some friends and I attended an amazing art exhibition called Body Worlds by scientist turned artist Gunther van Hagen.

Van Hagen is credited with inventing a technique called plastination, which basically takes bodies and organs donated to science and preserves them  – using plastic polymers pumped into  the flesh and muscle to replace fat and water (a complex process that I will not attempt to explain further!). He then puts these anatomical representations on display as a travelling exhibition, allowing observers to get a front row view of what makes the human body tick.

So there we were, generally oohing and aahing at the wonder of it all, when we arrived at an exhibit comparing the lung of a non-smoker with that of a smoker.

Let me say it was the perfect illustration of why one should never, ever pick up this filthy habit . The life-like smoker’s lungs in front of us – a black, sooty mess compared to the pristine, nicotine virgins alongside them.

I remember looking disdainfully at the smokers in our own company and making a mental note that I would never, ever subject myself to similarly disgusting behaviour.

So how is it possible that we fast forward a few years and I am now a 31 year old chain-smoking stress ball trying desperately to drop the habit?

On a good day, I am able to limit myself to about 15 cigarettes a day. On a bad day, or one that ends with many rounds of drinks and general inebriated mayhem, it’s closer to 25 or 30 cancer sticks. My puffing punctuates so many bits of my life. I drive, surf the net, socialise, work, laugh, cry, etc all with a poison-filled white tube attached to my lips.

But I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being sick every two months. I’ve had enough of smelling like a walking ash tray. And I’ve had enough of being held hostage by a steady supply of these stupid green and white cigarette boxes.

So I’ve made a pact with God and my new acupuncturist Dr Chen (an unlikely but powerful combo if ever there was one).

This time, I am serious. As I sit here with my chest wheezing and filled with the pain of bronchitis, I vow that I will definitely not be the bride who gets snapped in her beautiful white dress with a long, disgusting fag in her hand.

By the time I walk down the aisle on 6 August 2011, I will be nicotine free and not have to worry about the length of the ceremony just so that I can calculate when my next smoke break will be.

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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