Posts Tagged ‘Smoking’

Cold Turkey – an update after 100 days

March 17, 2023

There are other stories regarding the origins of the term “cold turkey” but I prefer this one.

Scholars of 19th-century British periodicals have pointed to the UK satirical magazine Judy as the true catalyst of “cold turkey”‘s evolution in meaning. The journal’s issue of January 3, 1877, featured the fictional diary of one John Humes, Esquire. The diary’s transcript on the day in question details Mr Humes’ exploits over his Christmas holiday. Throughout, Humes demonstrates a humbug attitude, complaining to every shopkeeper and acquaintance about the irony of the words “merry” and “jolly” being attached to the season. Most significantly, Hume is invited to stay at his cousin Clara’s as a part of her household’s celebrations. Hume, the miser to the core, is shocked that Clara serves him slices of (literal) cold turkey with his pudding and other side dishes on the evening of his arrival. A poor substitute for the roasted and dressed kind of turkey is the continually played-up implication in the comedy piece. The dissatisfied barrister stays several days nonetheless, and with each passing day, he is more and more shocked that the cold turkey finds its way onto his plate again. Finally, Hume arrives home, utterly disgusted at having been treated so badly. He calls for his estate lawyer and chops Clara completely out of his will and testament.

100 days have gone since I quit smoking cold turkey and I am now into week 15. There has been no gnashing of teeth or pulling of hair. Withdrawal effects have been subtle rather than obvious. When I quit smoking on 7th December last year I had 2 cartons of cigarettes and 3 lighters in my study. Many suggested that I should remove all traces of cigarette smoking from my presence but this seemed wrong to me. They are all still all there in full view.

Does the urge to smoke return?

Of course it does.

Every, single day.

But what is clear to me is that it is not a physical craving but something connected to habitual behaviour and entirely in the mind. The urge is triggerred by some action (or inaction) which my brain associates with lighting up. I find I need just a short physical/mental diversion to get rid of the urge. Initially I used conventional chewing gum (not the nicotine kind but sugar free) but now find even that unnecessary. Just thinking about something else or doing something else usually suffices. I am pretty sure that the sight of my cigarette cartons and lighters does not trigger the urge to smoke. There are some physical effects which persist. I “feel” colder than I used to. I feel a little more light-headed more often than I used to. I get the shivers and goose bumps from time to time and I attribute these to quitting smoking rather than to the blood-thinners I now take.

I am sure I am gaining the benefits of quitting smoking but they are gradual and not spectacular. I think I cough less and my breathing is easier. I seem to generate much less phlegm than I used to. I am pretty sure my lungs are in a much better state than they were. Of course, I am sure I am also spending less money but, again, this is not a spectacular benefit. It is difficult to notice the smells – on me, my clothes or in the house – that are no longer there, but I certainly notice the smells of others smoking when I come across them. These smells when noticed, are becoming, gradually but more often, disgusting rather than alluring.

So far so good.

I am not sure when I will be qualified to join the ranks of “non-smokers”. Perhaps in another 200 days.

Settled Science? Smoking declines, lung cancer cases increase

December 1, 2010


I am afraid I find that whenever I hear the claim of “science being settled” – whether in medicine or astronomy or climate or physics – I am immediately suspicious that a political agenda is being pursued. Recent examples only convince me that there are few “scientific conclusions” free of a political agenda any more.
A new survey in the Upsala-  Örebro healthcare region of Sweden has found that though smoking has been declining since the 1970’s, the number of cases of lung cancer have increased by 41% since the mid 90’s.
Svenska Dagbladet reports (free translation):
To some extent this survey reflects smoking behaviour of a few decades ago since lung cancer typically develops only after several decades of intense smoking. But Associate Professor Gunnar Wagenius, chief physician at the University Hospital cancer clinic in Uppsala, is still surprised, given that smoking among men has fallen since the 1970s, while lung cancer cases have stopped falling and even started to rise again.
“It suggests that there are one or more additional factors other than smoking, which slowed this decline. What these factors might be is as yet very mysterious”, he told the Upsala Nya Tidning.
Lung cancer increased among women most as a consequence of changes in smoking habits. In the study, the researchers analyzed statistics from the regional registry for lung cancer, which started in 1995. The 598 registered cases in the seven counties in the healthcare region had risen to845 cases last year.
The study will be reported later today at the National Medical conference in Gothenburg.



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