Saturday September 24th 2022

Where there’s smoke

The trials of giving up smoking By Bev Mortimer

No I didn’t quit for all the host of reasons touted, about it being bad for your health etc. Not that those warnings aren’t important and that I don’t agree with them.

On the contrary I really do, but they weirdly never made me quit the habit.  I unashamedly admitted to all and sundry that ‘I’m a nicotine addict’; that was that…

I decided to give up because of sheer inconvenience. I mean, on one of the coldest winter’s evenings, I had just had a hot bath, put on my PJs and snuggled under a warm rug in front of the TV to watch some of my favourite weekly shows, when horror of horrors, I noticed that I forgot to buy cigarettes at the super when I bought milk earlier in the day!

Good grief… how could I sit for three hours in front of the box without a cig or two? It was like asking me to stop breathing. So I had to slip a tracksuit over my PJs, put on my boots, some makeup, don a big coat and drive to a restaurant to get some cigs…

No wonder they call them fags… I mean what a schlep to have to do that, making me miss a good half hour of one of the shows and almost friz to death outside.

I was still mad at myself the next morn when I bumped into my neighbour, an admitted chain smoker of 30+ years…

“I’ve quit,” she gaily tells me. Incredulous I asked her how, having tried everything from gum and inhalers to cutting down, to cold turkey and even tranquillisers…. all to no avail.

“Acupuncture!” she answers, “Have been off for two weeks; needles come out next Friday.”

Now I tell myself, if she can you can… I’m prepared to try anything so as not to be a slave to some &*+%* forsaken weed and endure a winter blizzard to get a fix.

So I agree to accompany her when she has her needles out and undergo acupuncture myself. I meet the really quirky homeo who proceeds to ask me whether I’m a good or bad witch. Huh? Of course I’m a good one, how can he ask!

Then I’m given an almost thorough examination as if I’m going to have an op – he was even studying my toenails… glad they were neatly trimmed and polished! Then he inserted the needles while I grimaced (don’t say it doesn’t hurt, it does!)

“Now when you get the cravings pull five times on your ear lobes and the cravings will desist,” the doc advised.

“So there,” I think, “that’s all there is to it! I’m no longer a smoker!”

I smiled gleefully and was happy, looking forward to a good lunch. We nipped into woollies to get some delectable foodstuffs to take home and I was glad to spot some radishes, a scarcity in Kouga!

Then while in the queue, the withdrawal symptoms started to kick in…it had been more than three hours since I last had a puff… So I pulled my sore ear lobes… only making them more painful… and the pangs didn’t go away…

By the time we get to the luncheon venue my nerves were rather frayed…I ordered a big jug of coffee and after three cups felt a teeny bit better…

But by the time we arrived back in St Francis I was really ratty. A good cup of tea didn’t help, so I decided to attack the radishes, chomping one after the other as the powerful taste has a slight remedying effect…

Did not watch TV the first night and for most of the following nights….went to bed real early so as not to even think of cigarettes.

No I didn’t want to give into temptation… though three times I absent-mindedly lit a cigarette while absorbed with something,  caught myself in the act and delightedly put them out. The strange thing is that the taste was yuch and I didn’t want to finish them.

And so the first week dragged by with the biggest pangs hitting me mid morning, mid afternoon and in the evenings. Instead of all the yummy consoling foods like chocolates, cakes or biscuits I punished myself further by opting for fresh juices, yoghurt and fruits to avoid some extra kilos.

When the pangs worsened I tried migrating to strong munchies like radishes, cheddar and big pickled onions. And I tried to cheer myself up with the thought that instead of smelling like a dirty ashtray it’s better to radiate the fumes of a veg patch!

Yet some days when coffee, radishes, walking on the beach, or pulling my ear lobes 20 times didn’t help, the irritations became so bad I nearly turn into a bad witch!  Before I did, I simply curled up on the bed anytime of the day, under a rug, refusing to move…

The one morn in the super the withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I chomped an entire packet of strawberries. The cashier, clearly bemused at the empty pack, asked just too sweetly: “Hungry?”  I had to bite my lip before the wicked witch trying to rise in me turned her into a toad!

The sixth day I visited the neighbour (having been completely anti-social till then) and after commiserating together she advised that I had been pulling my ear lobes wrong!!

“You are supposed to pull where the needles are,” she said, laughing loudly while giving me some celery sticks to chew on.

The second week went by a tad easier… The needles were due out in a third.

A client advised buying some crave away toothpaste. “It’s supposed to diminish hunger pangs.”

So then I brushed my teeth at least six times a day, bought a new toothbrush and seemed to spend hours over the basin.

“At least my breath is good and I have whiter teeth,” I told myself.

Some consolation. “Can I I really smile to show them off?”

Bev Mortimer is founder and editor of award-winning community newspaper The St Francis Chronicle. Find them on Facebook, visit or email :

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