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I dabbled in smoking when I was at the school but only having a puff now and then from one of the other boys "nicks as we called them" in the school toilets during breaks but I never really took to it. The first full cigarette I smoked was around the age of eleven when a cousin we used to visit, bought a packet of five "Bristol Tips" from the shop, we then went to his bedroom and lit one each and began puffing away inhaling some, but mostly just blowing it back out again. He was used to it but I was just a novice and when we heard his mother coming up the stairs he quickly hid the still smoking fags on a small ledge behind the mirror of the dressing table. Our parents were brethren in faith and when she open the door to the bedroom she immediately smelled the tobacco smoke and asked who was smoking. Obviously we denied it but when she spied the smoke swirling above the mirror the game was up.
Her son being all innocent in her eyes and him being caught for the first time when he was with me, made me the bad influence on him instead of the other way round, however I took the blame and the punishment, which was only a warning of what I would get if I got caught again plus the guilt I felt within.
I still only dabbled occasionally never buying any until I started work at thirteen years of age as a bakers delivery boy on a Saturday morning. My pay was fifty pence for the mornings work starting at eight till one thirty in the afternoon and my tips would give me enough to buy a five packet of fags, which I did to impress one of the young female counter assistant that shared her tea break with me.
We used to think it made us more of a man then but I never plucked up the courage to chat the girl up and it only resulted in me having one fag less to smoke after giving her one of the precious sticks to smoke along with our tea.
It was when I went to sea to begin my career as a fisherman that I really took up the habit though not right away. We got what was called a "bond" which was forty fags every two days away from shore and with me smoking fifteen to twenty fags in that time I would sell the extra packets to the crew for ten pence each, (a packet of twenty costing around twenty four pence at the time) so everyone was happy.
I became a very heavy smoker though going through eighty Players plain a day depending on the long hours we worked at sea but never less than sixty. It wasn't the fact that I could not get breath or the fact that I had to get up during the night at times and cough, cough then try and draw some air into my lungs before I could relax enough to go back to bed that stopped me smoking, no I had another incentive. One day about thirty years later out of the blue I suddenly tallied up the extra tax the government were fleecing out of me over and above the heavy taxes I was paying out of my substantial wages and I being a stingy Scot eventually saw the light. Suddenly after savoring every puff of every fag, almost anticipating the next before the present one was finished the habit became a smelly disgusting thing to do and I stopped immediately, saving a fortune in the process and depriving the government of my extra contributions. My lungs have recovered and I never need to go to the window for air during the night, my breathing having eased tremendously but regardless of this it was the money side of it that was the main contributor to my stopping although I am grateful for the benefits my health gained.
When I see how much the fags have risen since since then and the money I have saved I never regretted giving them up and when I smell the musky tobacco stink on my clothes after being in the company of smokers I wonder why I ever took up the habit in the first place. One thing I never do though is preach to others about the habit as I know how hard it is to give them up and after sixteen years the urge still sometimes arises but fortunately I have never given in to it.
So if any smokers want a good reason to give up the habit, just realise that for every fag you pay for the cost of three is going straight to the government in taxes. NOW! Would that money not be put to better use by you?