For nearly a quarter century, 24 years, I was a smoker. Between 20 and 30 cigarettes per day were my quantity. What had started out as curiosity and joy, has certainly become a habit. Honestly, most cigarettes have not been smoked because they tasted well but out of sheer addiction.
Back in the 1970ies, when my brother and me were young boys, our parents did not mind smoking in our presence, even in the car. At that time, this was not contested, at least not in (central) Germany where we are from. The dangers of passive smoking were not widely debated and smoking was generally accepted. So the parents did it, and with them our visitors at home. (A few years later they quit that habit.)
What had “attracted” me as a young boy was the initial smell of a freshly lit cigarette. It was a smell which I had perceived as kind of aromatic, full-flavored to the nose. Of course I did not think of smoking myself and our parents kept on telling us that smoking is not good, and particularly not for children. So it was never an issue.
Later on there was a first contact. In a prize-winning game by an US-manufacturer of cigarettes, which was held publicly at a christmas festival at the central railway station in the big town of Wiesbaden, I have won a pack of three pieces, that red-white thing which is always smoked by a cowboy, according to advertising (which is forbidden since a couple of years.). I managed to stash it away before my mom could see it and the following days, I smoked them whenever I was out of the house. Like for any smoker, the first cigarette was not really good, making you coughing and feel dizzy.. But anyway I kept on and finished these three pieces. It was okay, not bad but not too delicious either. Yet, here and there I fagged a bum in the schoolyard from the elder boys at our school. Gradually I got used to inhale until into the lungs instead of puffing it only. (Smoking was never an issue for our girls.) That was very casual, it was no habit.
A few years later I entered our army for compulsory military service. Here and there I bummed a fag from the comrades. When being out in the bushes, lying in the dirt at night and at temperatures approaching 0°C / 32 F this was not exactly comfortable. I remembered the fine fresh smell of freshly lit cigarettes in our home when I was a young boy. And again there was a comrade here and there who was kind enough to deliver. It made this atmosphere more bearable. (Later on I did not give a damn, then I even felt great about that hardship outside, feeling proud that it did not bother me anymore. But as a-boy who enters military service from a more or less protected childhood it was a hard beginning.)
After six weeks, after the end of the very basic (and tough) training,we have celebrated its end during a company function. Also our drill instructors who used to shout and scream at us all the time were quite affable. We had a great evening together, with much fun and beer. I had already gotten me two or three cigarettes from two or three comrades and then I did it: I threw some coins in the vending machine and got me my first pack of cigarettes. Comrades even warned me not to take this path and if I really wanted to do it and that I should not. But my decision was made. I was to become a smoker for 24 years.
…. will be continued.