Cigars and the Quitter

Homer CigarThe topic of other nicotine (cigars, cigarettes, snus, nicotine patches, gum, etc.) and if they’re “allowed” for a quitter on KillTheCan.org comes up quite often on the forums and I wanted to put this post together so the next time it comes up I’ve got my response ready to roll.  First, let me remind you that the founders of KillTheCan.org prefer and subscribe to the “cold turkey” method of cessation.  This means that we strive to be 100% nicotine free… and that’s what we expect of our members.

Here’s how this conversation typically starts.

“Hey guys… I’m SO glad to have found this community and I’m LOVING being dip free!  I’m definitely never going back to the can!  Here’s my question.  I’m going to my buddy’s bachelor party this weekend and when I get together with those guys we always have cigars and booze.  Is this OK?

NOTE: it’s not always a bachelor party.  Could be a golf outing, a camping weekend, a homecoming, etc.  Feel free to replace “bachelor party” with whatever fits for your get together.

The short answer to this question is, “No”.  The longer answer to this question is, “Fuck no… are you kidding me?”  And the even longer (and probably more appropriate answer) goes something like this.

Allow me to set up a scenario…

Jack & Miller LiteYour best friend is an alcoholic.  You’ve know him for years and for as long as you can remember, EVERY time you see him, he’s got Jack Daniels on the rocks in front of him.  It’s become part of who he is.  It’s become his persona.  You refer to him as “Jack” and you don’t really remember what his real name is.  He’s always the life of the party but you can’t help but notice that he’s always got his Jack Daniels with him.  Then one day he comes to you and tells you that he’s given up the sauce.  He realizes that he’s an alcoholic and he’s ready to make a change.  He’s quit.  And he’d like your support.

Would you toast him with a Miller Lite?

Absolutely not.  And it’s the same thing with cigars and dippers.  You know why?  Cause what we’re ADDICTED to is nicotine.  Period end of story.  All you’ve done is changed the delivery method.  The law of addiction states that when you reintroduce a substance it causes a reestablishment of dependence to that substance.  This is why we strive for 100% nicotine free.  Otherwise, you’re just not quit.

And please… I’m not going to get into a harm reduction discussion here.  That’s not my point.  Feel free to argue how much “safer” and “healthier” smokeless tobacco is than cigarettes and cigars elsewhere.  I’m not going to indulge you here.

Still don’t understand how having “just one” may lead you back to the can?  Here it is.  I’ve seen it play out hundreds of times.

“YEAH… I’m quit. This is AWESOME. Fuck nicotine… I’m never going back.”

A few weeks later…

“Ah… I’m going golfing/fishing/camping (insert activity here) with my buddies. I’ve always had a cigar in the past. But I quit dipping… but a cigar isn’t dipping. I was a DIP addict. One or two cigars a year means I wasn’t addicted to cigars… I’ll be just fine.”

A few weeks later…

“Man… that cigar was fucking awesome. But I was able to have just one and that didn’t turn into more than one. I’m sure I could just have one dip and be just fine.”

A few weeks, moths, years, later…

“Day #1 – Sorry guys… thought I could have just one.”

It’s unfortunately just that simple.  As a wise man has said, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.  Well, I can just as easily say, “Rationalization leads to craving, craving leads to cigar, cigar leads right back to addiction.”  We’ve been referred to as “Nic Nazis” and while I never like be associated with one of the worst parts of human history, to being called a Nic Nazi, I have to respond with an emphatic, “Heil Quitler!!!”

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16 Comments

  1. It’s interesting that you should mention Nazis. Didja know that Hitler’s Germany was the first nation on Earth to recognize the dangers of sidestream smoke and to take action against it? Nikotin Verboten!

  2. A friend quit Copenhagen and would smoke cigars once in a while. He was quit for 7 yrs and went back to dipping for a short time. He used Chantix again (he also used it the first time to quit) and now he is quitting all over again. You are right, I have seen it happen.

    • I have quit Copenhagen for 2.5 years and was able to do it using the mint snuff. I dipped Cope for over 20 yrs. That mint leaves snuff tastes okay and gives the little burn on your lip too. I still keep my cigars but have not had one in a while. I still drink my beer too.

  3. @Ben – I have to say I think that’s a good decision. Make a nice gift out of em and never look back.

  4. CHEW: You summed it up, this is my second time hitting triple digits. The first time I quit for a pretty good stint and than I believed that “I can handle a cigar its not dip” the fatal flaw. I was back to dipping within months. I am completely convinced that I am addicted to all forms of nocotine if they put nicotine in cake batter I would be up to 2 cakes a day. Thanks…

    • I am dying to smoke my Cuban cigars but have hit the 6 mos mark on quiting dip. My mouth feels much better from not having the fiberglass from Copenhagen cutting it. Don’t really want to go back but would not mind a cigar. Just too dangerous though. Need to sell them or give them away.

  5. I quit dipping after 30 yrs back in November 2011 right before Thanksgiving, using Jakes mint chew. I have a humidor downstairs full of Cuban cigars and others collected over the years. I was wondering if it would be okay to have an occasional cigar because I don’t want to waste them. A little voice in my head keeps telling me not to do it. So far I have listened, and after hearing this conversation I will sell or give the cigars away. I am so glad to be over dipping that I will not jepordize it by smoking a cigar. Thanks for reaffirming the little voice in my head.

    • @Ben – Glad we could help. I can certainly understand the difficulty parting with your “collection”. I had one of my own prior to my quit. That said, I think it’s probably best to steer clear. No need to go down that path.

      Congrats on an outstanding quit!!!

  6. I’ve wondered if you can still say you are quitting when you are using ecigs, nicotine gums and other tools, but yes, its still quitting. Any time you are taking negative effects off your body, you are quitting your addiction.

    • @Jenny – I’m not sure I agree that I’d call that “quitting” but you’re right that it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

  7. I thought this was a well written article … And with over 2600 days sober, your analogy fit perfectly. the person asking the question: “is it ok if …..” may as well be saying: “how PhukN insane am I ….”

  8. Chew,
    You’re a genius of quit. Pure and simple.

  9. @R Diamond – Honestly, it took me quite a while to come to the realization that nic in ALL its forms were off the table for me. It took seeing hundreds of “Day #1… I thought I could have just one” posts for it to really sink in.

  10. absolutely agreed. i realize there are those people for whom alcohol is not a problem, but for the alcoholic it is. there are those people for whom tobacco – in any and all of its forms – is not an addictive substance (i dunno, maybe that’s not really true, but they’re not addicts like we ktc’ers are), but for those of us who are Quit? no. it is addictive and it is, simply, the thing which imprisons us. to return to it and think it is not unhealthy is, for us, foolishness.

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