I stopped for gas in East Haven. I was on my way to work from getting a haircut. Francine is the Queen of Hair, though if I didn’t stop her, she would play with each individual strand until it was perfect.
Anyway… I stopped for gas and there was a large sign in the parking lot. A sale on cigarettes – $5.20 a pack. Holy crap.
It’s been a long time since I smoked, but I do remember some benchmarks.
When I began to smoke, probably early 1969, a single pack in a vending machine was 40¢. I was astounded in finding a vending machine at the WHDH-TV studios in Boston that sold them for 35¢.
Driving to Florida in 1970, I stopped in North Carolina and bought a few cartons for under $3 a piece. Gasoline was probably 34.9¢/gallon back then.
I smoked a pack and a half a day when I quit. Let’s see… $5 per pack is $50 per week or $2,500 a year. That’s crazy.
I have been told quitting cigarettes is incredibly difficult. I smoked for 18 years and permanently quit the first time I tried. And I didn’t even want to quit. I’m not trying to show off. That’s just how it happened for me.
It was pre-Stef, and Helaine was getting very upset, telling me how I was going to die and we’d have a child to think about. My people are good with guilt.
My first attempt at quitting was was to just cut back, which I did successfully for one day.
11:00 PM rolled around and I was sitting on the news set with our sports anchor, Bob Picozzi and our anchor, John Lindsay¹. The news began with a single wide shot. Bob and I were ‘set parsley.’
Proudly, I told John I had cut down to only eight for the entire day. And he said, “You can’t do that. After a few days you’ll start ramping up. You’ve got to say, I quit now. I’ve already smoked my last cigarette”
As if in some Hollywood movie, the newscast’s theme music swelled, John turned to the camera and began to read. I sat and pondered.
That night, I came home to our condo in Branford. Helaine was in the kitchen. I took my pack of cigarettes, banged it on the table and said, “I quit.”
She had no clue what I was talking about. I explained.
For the next few months, there were carrots and celery and something to keep me busy. Helaine was amazingly supportive. Neighbors of ours, he a young physician at Yale/New Haven, prescribed Nicorette (back then, by prescription only).
Within a week or two, I notice my sense of smell had improved. The next cold I had made a much quicker passage through my system.
I’m sure there has been some damage done by all the smokes. I hope it’s not too much.
I’ve never missed my cigarettes. I never had a desire to return. I can’t understand why anyone starts now, if for no other reason than the expense.
$5.20 a pack. That’s a sale? They’re kidding, right?
¹ – John Lindsay was on my mind yesterday. He had one of the briefest stays of the myriad anchors I’ve worked with. He also had a small part as a TV anchorman in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was on TV yesterday.