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Quitting less fun than smoking - Rob Felt

What kills me is that nervous, crawly feeling. It always starts with my arms itching and then I feel trapped and antsy. The cure? Just a couple of quick drags from a Marlboro Medium n my weapon of choice. That withdraw following your "last cigarette" a day later is its own disease. Research shows that smoking permanently changes your brain chemistry and basically makes you want to smoke for the rest of your life. I could've saved them some time and money on that study.

I quit smoking about eight months ago and it's still pretty miserable. No hippity-pippity hunker down and fly straight advice here, friends, because it is truly horrible. I'm not going to come down on you like Sister Mary catching you necking behind the fellowship hall. You already know you have to quit sometime. The sooner the better, dummy.

The conversation goes something like this: "Oh, man, I've really got to quit."

"I know n it's just so hard."

"Yeah, I quit once for like ? a month last year."

"What happened?"

"I just couldn't take it anymore and all of my friends smoke so one night we were out drinking and ? blah blah blah."

Dialogue as fresh and captivating as a soap opera romance, right?

I've cheated. Not so much anymore, but I had those stashed packs in the dark corners of my closet so I wouldn't appear weak to my friends. How sad. Local AM radio talk master Neil Boortz likes to rail smokers as the most pathetic creatures to crawl the earth. In certain cases I can get behind that argument.

Smokers are paralyzed with fear when they hear the rattle of that last cigarette in their pack. They head to the gas station like lemmings looking for the most acceptable "buy two get one free" deal they can find. Financially the habit gets rolled into the cost of groceries and at that point food is actually less of a necessity. Anyone who spent their college days smoking knows that all too well. Food can be bummed as easily as cigarettes, but which would you rather have? The cigarettes. They also act as an appetite suppressant!

Food really gets me. Nothing goes better with greasy cheese eggs and bacon for breakfast than one of those happy little coffin nails. I just ate lunch and I'd hop in my car right now and give a Goodyear massage to a puppy for a fresh smoky treat. Quitting is not easy or fun but neither is cancer, tough guy. When it gets hard, think of the cancer.

It's a good time to quit. Taxes in Georgia just went up 25 cents a pack in a state-sponsored effort to both raise more money while cutting back health care costs and urge us to generally be healthier.

The Truth Web site has a death counter that you can check up on to find the estimate of how many people have died so far today from smoking related illnesses. Add that to your "favorites" and click it during your next nicotine fit.

I shouldn't end without a bit of advice since I've gotten you all excited and now you're considering quitting for the third time this week, so here you go. In your weaker moments ask yourself this: Do I want to be a nicotine-conditioned lab rat, smell like crap and shorten my life expectancy for only $4 a day plus tax? Hmmm ?

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.