Day Eleven

Days Without a Cigarette: 10.64930555
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: $21.81

I’m a numbers guy. I’m pretty sure the way I open these posts gives that away. I should clarify that this does not mean that I’m good at math. I suck at math. But I like to quantify stuff and see the numbers. My brain is way more swayed by that than, for example, the ever so slightly longer I can inhale without coughing now.

So when Lucinda and I were talking last night and a new measurement occurred to me, I figured I should share it with you. Up until now, I’ve been largely focused on the dollars saved (mostly because carcinogens avoided isn’t easily quantifiable), but as I’m looking at a forecast that calls for nineteen straight hours of rain and general shittiness the following day and thinking about all the time my non-smoking ass won’t be spending standing outside in it, it dawned on me that I should also be keeping track of the time I’m saving by not smoking.

For context here, I never smoked in my house or my office. I always stepped out to smoke because if I didn’t at least enforce that restriction, I’d chain smoke. So most of my cigarettes required that I stop what I was doing, throw on a jacket or shoes or something, then pause my life for five minutes.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case. There were times when I was doing something outdoors already. I smoked in the car, so I never had to pause anything for the road cigarettes. And a lot of what I was doing was on my phone or a conversation with my wife that could continue on as I stepped outside.

But for every one of those conveniently timed cigarettes, there were plenty more that took me away from work or forced me to pause the movie, or show up at the airport a little early, or hold my friends up after dinner before we order the Uber.

Most smokers, in my experience, will tell you that it takes them about five minutes to smoke a cigarette. And most of them are also wrong about that. It took me about three. I’m pretty sure we assume it’s five either because we don’t want to admit how quickly we’re sucking them down, or because we associate them with breaks at work so we unconsciously pad the time. Either way, a cigarette usually took me about three minutes. But, when you add the aforementioned jacket donning and shoe finding, plus the walk to where the cigarette can be smoked (which is usually just to the front porch, but sometimes is down fourteen stories on a slow elevator and across the parking lot), and all the shit that goes with it, it’s probably fair to say that a cigarette break, on average, took about five minutes of my time.

I smoked a little more than a pack a day. If you’re following the dollar amount closely, you’ll notice that I accounted for two packs on day seven. That’s because I smoked twenty one to twenty five cigarettes a day, not twenty, and that shit adds up. So let’s take the average at twenty-three a day and five minutes a smoke. That’s 115 minutes – one cigarette shy of two hours – every day of my life.

I’m pretty meticulous about getting my eight hours of sleep every night, so pretty much one eighth of my life was spent either smoking cigarettes or coming or going from a cigarette. Which means that by the end of today, I’ll have spared myself twenty one hours and five minutes of cigarette time.

And again, I don’t know how much of that lined up with my normal daily activities, but in truth, most days it wasn’t much. I don’t have a commute and I don’t spend much time outdoors. On most of the last eleven days, pretty much one hundred percent of that time would have been an interruption.

I know that the point of quitting is, by and large, to add hours to the end of your life, but it would be a mistake not to reflect on all the ones I’m gaining every day.

Published by Noah Lugeons

Noah Lugeons co-hosts a bunch of podcasts: The Scathing Atheist, God Awful Movies, The Skepticrat, and Citation Needed

2 thoughts on “Day Eleven

  1. I think time is definitely a more important indicator than money. It’s why my husband, who worked at a restaurant, started smoking to begin with. He said the only reason they would let the kitchen staff outside was to smoke. So the smokers got more breaks. Also, when we had little kids I envied the shit out of my husband’s ability to take a break from them every hour just for 5 minutes to regroup and gather his thoughts. I would calculate he got an extra hour “break” from them a day than I did. Of course from my husband’s perspective if he had quit then he would not have saved an hour every day that he wanted, it would have been a punishment. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he finally quit once he started working in a different environment with real breaks and the kids were old enough to start reasoning with (school age).


  2. Time regained is a good stat! Up to two more hours a day to spend on things that make you happier: cuddling with the cats and/or Lucinda; sleeping, walking around (you know, the outdoors isn’t just for smoking! there’s stuff to see out there that’s pretty fucking awesome!), reading, watching TV, seeing *good* movies instead of just bad ones, hanging out with people you like, enjoying not being with people you don’t…


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