Since I started smoking as a college student ten years ago, a late night cigarette has been the one I looked forward to most. This last quiet moment of my day is a time for me to reflect, prepare for the next day mentally, and just relax before bed. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the moonlight, enjoying the last drag of my midnight cigarette when it happened. All of a sudden, I was overcome in a fit of coughing that I thought would never pass. That final drag nearly killed me. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I could hardly breathe and the coughing just wouldn’t pass. As I ran inside and gulped water to ease the coughs that were burning my lungs, my husband rolled his eyes. “I told you to quit! What is in those things anyway? Do you even know?”
That night, I couldn’t quit thinking about the coughing fit and what my husband had said. He was right. I had no idea what was in my cigarettes that I loved so much. I knew they were bad for me. It said so right not he package. I just didn’t know why. What was in the cigarettes that I clung to like a security blanket? It was time to find out. I dragged myself out of bed early the next morning and turned on the computer. After an hour on google, I was sicker than the night before in the midst of my coughing fit.
What I had learned was horrifying. A cigarette contains over 4,000 chemicals. So much for “natural living”, huh? They also contain 43 known cancer causing compounds and 400 other toxins. As I read the list of ingredients, I got more and more disgusted with myself and my habit. That midnight cigarette that left me coughing was so toxic… it was a wonder I hadn’t died on the spot. Cigarettes contain nicotine, tar, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, DDT, and carbon monoxide. I sat shaking my head in amazement at the carbon monoxide detector hanging on my wall. All these years, I had worried that our gas logs would kill me in my sleep when I was deliberately breathing in carbon monoxide every night before bed as I enjoyed my sacred midnight cigarette.
The tears started about the time my husband came into the room for breakfast. I showed him the list of ingredient I had found online and somehow, he felt a little sorry for me. “Listen, why don’t you try those new electronic cigarettes? They will help you eliminate all of those toxins and just let you get the nicotine you need through a water based mist.” I was a little doubtful, but agreed to read up on it. Now I’m ordering a starter kit and attempting to make the switch to ecigs. After what I read online, I have no choice but to change my habit. It’s going to kill me if I don’t.