October has, apparently, been cleverly renamed “Stoptober” to actively encourage people to quit smoking by promoting quit-clinics, helpline advice and online support all backed by the NHS.
The idea for the name change being that it gains as much popularity and recognition as “Movember” – a month where people (mainly men) attempt to grow a “mo” (moustache) which has successfully raised awareness of men’s health issues whilst making them all look like a ridiculous “Magnum p.i.”
Apparently, there’s a movement to rename January to Jam-uary, where everyone has to make and sell jam to help people who have suffered injuries, maiming and death through jam-related accidents.
But back to “Stoptober.”
I remember the first time I smoked, I was 11 and it was quite unusual.
I got hauled into the boys’ toilets by the school thug and asked: “Do you smoke?”
I shook my head.
“You do now,” he said, setting light to my jumper.
I recovered from that experience by tearing it off and throwing it down the toilet and thinking this could be an expensive habit.
That year, my smoking experiences didn’t get any better from “smoke-filled eyes” to “coughing and vomiting” and chewing endless packets of Doublemint gum to hide the awful smell on my breath from my parents and I quickly gave up as I found it didn’t relax me as it was supposed to.
If anything, it made me more tense as I spent most of my lunch-breaks standing precariously on a toilet seat so no one could recognise my shoes, hoping that I wouldn’t drop the fag packet down the toilet and praying between puffs that the headmaster wouldn’t come in and catch me.
It was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done and it certainly didn’t make me feel more grown up – like 12 – so I gave up.
Nowadays, I just chew on pens instead but, apparently, I can give that up in Chew-ly (July).


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