It was only two puffs....
…and, more importantly, it was only a dream. I was so relieved when I woke up to realise that I hadn't really had a cigarette. Even in the dream I hadn't had an urge for one - it just seemed to end up in my mouth by accident, twice, each time with me realising what it was after a single puff and then jettisoning it.
The relief I felt set me up for a very positive feeling for most of the morning. I marched off to meet Mr K the Chemist for my end of Week One meeting.
The smoking cessation programme I'm on runs something like this. Go to chemist and tell them you want to give up smoking. They either arrange a meeting for you to meet their specialist or they see you there and then (which happened in my case). This covers the range of support they can give (various Nicotine Replacement Therapy, NRT, Products. I don't remember 'cold turkey' or hypnosis getting a mention). They also emphasise setting a date which I had done the previous summer. You go away and think about what NRT you're going to use. During this time I changed my mind about using the nasal spray, which I had envisioned using, opting instead for the 24 hour patches. This first meeting is about 10mins long.
The next meeting is a few days before your stopping date. At Mr K's you pop round to, I’m not sure how to describe it, a kind of cupboard or kiosk round the back of the counter. You sit on a chair with ANUSOL written on it, he pulls a lever, a desk thing swings down from nowhere stopping at waist height and there's absolutely no way you can get out and he leans forward, his evil piercing eyes....sorry. I digress. He keeps chatting whilst filling out a form on the desk-thing then gets you to blow into a device that measures carbon monoxide and tells you things like " I can tell by this you have had a cigarette in the last hour" as if that's some kind of shock revelation to him or me. You finally snap and blurt out "Give me the bloody patches and release me from this thing man!"
He gives you some leaflets gets a paper bag containing the product and you slap £6.50 in his hand. It’s a bit like a crack deal except there's a lot more elderly women in the vicinity and the only bling I've got on are my spectacles.
The second stage is towards the end of your first week after stopping (4 days after in my case) and is very similar to the first one. You realise that the carbon monoxide test is just a lie detector. "I can tell by this you haven't had a cigarette recently" which, again, isn't big news to me. I know the dream felt very real but I would have been surprised if the two dream-puffs had registered on the machine. You score the patches off the old man as per last week, same strength, and arrange the End of Week Two meeting.
After that meeting a longer period of time is given, two weeks and after that you're at the final meeting when, presumably, you walk away with a sackful of the stuff and never look back.
And never have to go in that kiosk and blow that thing again.