Big Tobacco lured me in… and I was helpless to resist

Nicotine is Addictive

I have felt it. The pull of nicotine. Telling myself that I don’t want to smoke anymore, only to light up an hour later. What happened to my mind that used to stubbornly say that smoking was bad and that I would never smoke?

Simple. Nicotine is addictive.  And in most people, this addiction overcomes any rational decisions and arguments against smoking. But where does the addiction start?

The First Drag

I was young and curious. Smoking was taboo, something that everyone said was dangerous and that could hook someone for life.

But I was stronger than that, I knew it.

So a childhood friend and I huddled over a fire-pit, lighting up someone else’s discarded cigarette butt.

Gross, right? But we didn’t care. We were kids pulling off something sneaky. Thrills come in many forms at 13 years old.

Did it taste good? Was it as glamorous as the magazine ads and billboards claimed? Did I now look like the Marlboro man?

Not at all. It tasted horrible. And the taste lingered in my mouth, feeling like I just wanted to rinse it out.

But there was something else there. It was mild but it was there. A slight feeling of light-headedness. A mild euphoria that combined with the excitement of our little crime that in a strange way made the experience enjoyable.

Was I addicted? Not yet, but I didn’t realize that I had just planted the seed that would grow into a full-on addiction. An addiction that would follow me for the next 25 years and completely take over my life and govern my decisions.

Feeding the Addiction

No, I wasn’t addicted yet. But I had softened the barrier in my mind that protected me from the lure of smoking. No longer was there a hard line that I had not crossed. I tried it and I was sure that this was not something I could get hooked on.

So during a break at my Grade 8 graduation, our friend’s mom let us have some cigarettes from her pack (not an ideal parent, but times were different). I had my first full cigarette, a nasty King size Menthol cigarette. It tasted awful, but again I got that euphoric feeling. I went back into my graduation and didn’t smoke again until nearly a year later when I was in High School.

But the damage was already done. I had silenced the voice that said I would not smoke and replaced it with a voice that said “Smoking isn’t as bad as you thought”.

I was doomed.

Training to be a Smoker

Over the next few years, I would gradually smoke more and more. My friends, media, and my own mind all played a part in training me to be a full-fledged smoker. The more I smoked, the easier it was.

That euphoric feeling and light-headedness started to get harder to attain. I had to smoke more before I would get a buzz. I switched to stronger cigarettes, partly to be cool, and partly because they would provide a stronger hit.

Little did I realize that every cigarette was training me. This is exactly what Big Tobacco wanted. A new lifelong smoker to line their pockets while helplessly returning again and again for another drag, another smoke, another pack.

How old were you when you started? Did you think you would get addicted? Share your story in the comments below.

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