A Letter From Smoking Al

Here is a letter that I wrote in April of 1988, when I was still a smoker. I wrote the letter to my future non-smoking self, whom I desperatedly hope would one day exist. I read this today, and I am very glad that Smoking Al was so determined to find his way out of the smoking maze. Today, Non-smoking Al exists because of that determination.

One thing that I see in this letter is the frusteration, fear, and dispair that I had at that time over the smoking habit. If you feel any of those things yourself because of smoking, take hope. You can pull yourself out of the maze just like Smoking Al did.


Please don't ever go back. Don't ever get on the roller-coaster again. You can go to the library for as long as you like without having to leave for a smoke. You can work on a project for hours at your desk without clouding up the air about you. You can walk into any "no smoking" area without being fearful. You can hear the word cancer without cringing. You are going to live a long life with Dot. You will live to see your sons grow up. You can exercise and breathe much better than I.

You are free from fear. Fear of running out of cigarettes. Fear of being put into a no smoking environment for more than a few minutes. Fear of disease. Fear of growing old before your time.

You are free in many ways! You are free to exercise and reap the full reward! You are free to dream and plan for tomorrow! You are free to go where you want and do what you want, in total disregard of your non-existent habit.

I, on the other hand, am a prisoner. I am chained to a habit with high tensile steel. A sharp pull will never break it. It must be filed through a day at a time. The process is long and it is tiring. But it is worth it!!!

I long to become you. I'm writing this to make sure you remember me. Don't forget me. I am unhappy. I am in danger. I don't want these chains. Remember me and never, never, NEVER(!) put the chains on you!!!

I search for the way to become you. The way for you to become me is all too easy. The recovering smoker can never take a single cigarette. Don't even contemplate it.

When an urge hits work through it. Get involved with something else and it will go away, as you know. No urge is unbeatable! Each urge that passes is another bit of the steel that is chipped from the chain. The chain will break! Work through each urge! Don't give in! Resist it and it will flee!

You can truly smell the roses. You can taste the most subtle flavor. Your fingers have feeling at all times and your circulation is 100%.

My nose, my tongue, my fingers all suffer the impact of my habit. My muffled senses don't gather all there is available of the marvelous data attempting to penetrate the smoke.

I am tired. Often I just want to sit and do nothing, or at most, little. You have energy. I have none. You can be excited by tomorrow. I have nothing but a day of addiction to look to. You have money. I spend $50 a payday(1) ($1200 per year) at least, for the drug that does nothing but destroy me.

Your are my idol. You are my goal. What do I have that you don't? The very same thing that any addict has: a habit. A clinging, smothering, hungry, leach of a monster that I invited into my life, and now he refuses to leave of his own choice. I have nothing to offer you, but you, on the other hand, are my vision, my peak to climb to.

I'm writing this to you in hope that you will be strong and never become me again. I do not like the way I am. You, on the other hand, have a great many things to smile about! You can sing without a sore and raspy throat. You can play racquetball or basketball and give a full effort without running out of air or gas. Your heart is strong, your lungs are pink, and life has much more to offer you. Hang on to your hard won standing as a non-smoker. You can say, "no" to cigarettes and that is the way it should be!

Your former self,

Smoking Al



This was based upon 1988 prices at the Navy Exchange. Today the cost for 3 packs a day would be very much higher.

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