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.