This is not universal advice, simply my experience.

I think that last Friday was eight years since I gave up the fags. Quite good eh?

I can remember how it came about. I had, as was my wont, been in the library, pounding the keyboard making the most of the kindly provided wifi. It got to about 11 o’clock, and I thought I fancied a cigarette. I rolled one up (I used rollies not tailor-mades), strolled out into the sunshine, and sat on a bench in the Town Square, enjoying the ultraviolet rays. I sparked up.

I took a big drag. It felt great. It really did feel terrific. I leaned back in the sunshine, and blew out a big cloud of smoke. Aaaaaaah.

Then I started coughing. Not a big phlegmy smoker’s hacking up. Just an uncontrollable repetitive dry cough. It wouldn’t stop, or more like it I couldn’t stop. I waited till things settled down a bit, and let my eyes stop watering while I leaned forward with my elbows on my knees. Over my head I’m sure there was a cartoon thought bubble.

‘Right. That’s IT. Enough is enough. Stop now. NOW.’

I stubbed out my cigarette, threw the butt away in the accepted bin. Went back into the library, disconnected from the internet, packed up my laptop, said ‘Bye’ to the librarians, and left. And went to the pub for early doors.

My friend Razor (he really is known as that) was in being a bit of a rascal, since he was supposed to be working. He was a dyed in the wool rollie smoker.

I rummaged in my pockets, located my rolling baccie, my many packets of papers, the multiple lighters that smokers accumulate (uncanny numbers of those). I turned to my friend.

‘Raze. Want a beer?’

‘Yeah, all right.’

‘There’s a condition.’

‘Errrm. Go on.’

I handed him my smoker’s accoutrements.

‘You have to take this crap off me.’

‘I can do that.’

And that’s where it stopped. I did well actually. No withdrawal, no cravings, straight out cold turkey. Know what I miss? It’s not the smoking, funnily enough. I was talking to my bank manager the other day, and he agreed with me. It’s not the smoking. It’s the little ritual, the activity of rolling a cigarette. It’s a terribly focussed activity, forget talking, concentration is the key.

Yet it is strangely calming. I miss that much more than I miss smoking. The papers, the baccie, the little roach of rolled thin cardboard (cheque book covers are a good source of this), the careful precision required if you aren’t to look like a tyro…

Incidentally, my friend and colleague Dave could knock up a rollie while driving a fully laden 3.5 ton Transit van. He’d been smoking so long rolling was almost reflexive. You know, unconscious muscle memory.