Face the fear

Posted on May 31, 2011


Today is World No Tobacco day so I’m feeling very aware of days, or should I say habits, gone by as although I find smoking a repulsive habit these days I used to be a smoker myself.

Tori the runner I hear you cry?!?

Yes, Tori the runner!

This is where it all began ….

Back in 1993, I was with my friend Saz, partying hard with boys far too old for us in a bar in Hong Kong (Yeltsins in LKF for those in the know). We were terribly drunk and in the very early hours, around the time I get up these days, we ordered one last round and I pinched one of her Marlborough Lights.


Who knows. To rebel I guess. It seemed cool, deemed grown up and well … exciting.

Then we got back to boarding school and it was just the done thing to sneak off to some alley, nook or cranny at every possible opportunity and puff away on our Marlboroughs.

Fast forward through six-form and then uni where I partied in excess for four great years and smoking was just par for the course … it kept you skinny, paired well with G&T’s and kept hunger at bay so we could maximise spend of our parents hard-earned cash on new clothes, must-have handbags and drinks promos and minimise that on trips to Tesco.

I would run, climb mountains, do other sports, yet I insisted to all those who asked that my smoking made a negligible difference to my state of health and fitness. (I have a remarkable knack of saying things with such conviction sometimes that I even believe it myself!!)

My parents meanwhile nagged me constantly to quit ranging from idle threats to heart-felt pleas but still, I continued to puff away.

Then three years ago, on a completely random evening here in Dubai, I was sitting on the balcony having a ciggie, mesmerised by the cars whizzing down SZR and I decided at that very moment, that I no longer wanted to be a smoker. So I snubbed it. Threw away the packet, got rid of the ashtrays, binned my lighters and quit. Simple as! Unbelievable I know but this is what it showed me:

  • that when we take action for ourselves, do what we want, for the right reasons and at the right time i.e. OUR OWN reasons and when it suits us, then decisions and the consequential actions are easy. Too often we end up living our lives and making choices not really for ourselves but to please and accommodate others so make sure you check in every so often to ensure you’re doing what YOU want and then you’ll become a smarter decision maker all round
  • that whilst smoking is, of course, a drug and therefore an addictive habit by nature, it’s clearly as much a mental addiction as it is a physical one. Once deciding I didn’t want to be a smoker any more, it was easy, so so easy, not to smoke. Why do something you don’t want to do? I don’t even recall any major cravings rather just the change in routine from lighting up at every opportune moment
  • that smoking really is a disgusting habit but when you’re a smoker you’re so unaware of that. So if you smoke, think about whether you want to be labelled a smoker, think about how it looks and smells, think about how liberating it would be to not be a smoker, not be tied to the chains of nicotine and not have your life dictated to by an overpriced cancer stick. (There is a reason why in most countries, cigarettes are so highly taxed and that is to cover the costs of healthcare when you are dying with a smoking-related disease)
  • that what actually stops so many from quitting is fear. Not fear of no longer being a smoker but rather fear of failing to quit … fear of not being able to last a day, a week, a month, a year. Well find that courage, that self-belief and go for it. And if you fail? So what. Just try again. Life is just a series of trail and errors …. how dull would it be otherwise?

So on a day like this – World No Tobacco day – I wonder what value it holds. Smokers won’t quit smoking because it’s no smoking day … but perhaps it might make people think about what they want and whether they’re smoking because they really want to.

You will quit when you are ready but try with all your might to bring that day forward. The rewards are extensive … I know that and you know that.  And besides, perhaps it is just fear that’s getting in your way, in which case I turn to the words of Marie Curie …

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.’

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