April 10, 2014

Time To Burn: A Smoker's Opinion on Cigarettes.

Alright, now I'm hoping this post won't be a drag, but I've been wanting to conjure up a few thoughts on something that I've been doing for roughly three and a half years. That "thing" would be smoking cigarettes. Now, I'd like to say I know what you're thinking, but it's not like that. I don't even know how I feel about it. Still. I knew when I started occasionally bumming cigarettes that I would likely become hooked, or have some desire to carry out that lifestyle full-time, but it wasn't like that, and then again, it sort of was.

I made a conscious decision that if I was going to smoke cigarettes, I would act as if I had some conscious idea about what I was doing...and I did.

I told myself that if I did decide to ever buy a pack, it would be something that wouldn't kill me quite as fast. That for me was American Spirits. Perhaps it was a throwback to when I obsessively read Gossip Girl in Freshman year of high school...

"She sat down next to Blair and pulled a crumpled turquoise-colored pack of American Spirits out of her
pocket. She’d started smoking them when she and Aaron had gotten together, because they were
supposed to be all natural and additive-free." ...okay excuse that.

When I first started picking up packs, one would last me a little over a week and that smoking lifestyle lasted for quite awhile. I guess you don't really remember what makes you gradually smoke more and more as time goes on, but I'm guessing it's attributed to the smoker's environment and playbook...oh and stress level? Once people know you smoke, you're more likely to end up smoking, even when you don't even have the desire, because at this point, it becomes a social habit. It's still odd to me, because I went from being indifferent to cigarettes, to absolutely hating them and finding them pointless, to acceptance, to actually becoming a smoker. It's been quite the journey.

Despite all of the facts about smoking; how addicting it is, the destruction it leads to, the toxins you're adding to your body, the need, the craving...it's not like that for me..but then again, it sort of is. I DO feel cooler when I smoke, but I'm sure it's all in my head. In my short three years of smoking (yeah, I know, in the scheme of anything, that's not a long period of time for such a habit), I can't say I've ever "craved" a cigarette. I have never found a cigarette so dire that it comes before anything else. I always try to figure out WHY I smoke. I used to be so against smoking something that really gave you little added benefits, besides temporary stress relief (which smokers know is a vital reason), but then I guess I sort of came to this minor understanding that for ME, it's about taking a moment to focus on breathing and to just do something so mindless and simplistic that gives you a reason to be outside. While I have committed to American Spirits for the most part, there have been other brands that I have fallen in love with over my smoky little journey, those would be Nat Sherman, Dunhill, and Hestia. I guess you can say that I go for higher quality tobacco, or a "lighter" smoke. I like the idea of American Spirits, but I hate the idea that they are still owned under big tobacco, R.J. Reynolds, who doesn't seem so pleased with other companies having the ability to call their tobacco "all natural and additive free"...

I've even saved empty packs of nights that held importance.
The night I smoked from on December 4, 2012 (Florence show)
and the pack I smoked on my 24th birthday.

Fantasias, hands down, have to be one of my favourite things to smoke.
They are such a wonderful conversation starter and they smoke super light.
I don't like overpowering tobacco, so sipping on these in the summertime is perfect.
Of course, I still flip a lucky even in these packs. Got to!

red on red, baby.

However, for the daily smoke or for the night out, Naturals and Black and Golds are the way to go.
I love the box for these and they smoke like the Fantasias. I'd LOVE if they came out with an
"Ice Pack" and it contained menthol cigarettes wrapped in different shades of blue.

I've never been a big fan of the mainstream cigarette brands; Marlboro, Camel, Parliaments...none of those seemed like the right choice for me. I knew better than that. I have never bought a pack of these, have I bummed them, sure, but even in desperation, I will pass up the cheaper, shittier smoke to find what won't leave me feeling nauseous when I get midway through. To each their own, I know people that absolutely disdain what I smoke, so it just depends what you start with, the amount of effort you're used to exerting for your drag, and how long it lingers for. Cigarettes, although all there for the same purpose, have such particular tastes for particular people. It's all about preference.

For me, cigarette smoking has always been built on a social occasion. I prefer puffing a cigarette with the company of someone else. I believe that smoking should be a leisurely thing; a moment in your day where you pause, inhale, and sort your thoughts and chit chat. I disdain the smoking happenstance where you throw on your coat and kick back puffs until you're no longer freezing and you become relieved once your cig is too short to puff. With this brutal winter, smoking was a real pain for people like me. I didn't WANT to make it something that lasted a short period of time, because that's not why I smoke cigarettes. It almost became a "Hey, let's go smoke for some reason for us to get out of this house", but needless to say, I survived.

Then, thanks to social networking, Hestia got at me when I posted a picture of a convenient store haul that included to packs of American Spirits. They told me a bit about them and encouraged me to give 'em a try. I went to their website, and ordered "just two packs", which is just $12. Here's the thing; as I said, I like natural tobacco, and choosing a smarter vice. I prefer to give my money to small business and something I believe in, versus something of less quality that will ultimately have worse consequences. So Hestia's thing is that they sell only online in order to keep costs down, which is smart. I like their whole idea, I like what they're striving for, and it's a company I feel comfortable promoting and telling people about (if you only knew how many people I've actually talked about them to...my god). The company has also been fabulous in their social marketing/networking and I always respect a company who's equipped with proper social skills via online interactions. They respected the fact I was promoting them, and regardless of the fact I had put my order in, they left a pack for me to pick up and enjoy for free at the Lincoln Hotel so I could start enjoying them sooner. This was a super swell move on their end. While hopefully this wasn't a huge inconvenience for them, it definitely made me feel like a valued customer.

Photo: Me and my new @hestiatobacco swag!
Here's me outside the hotel with my Hestia swag

So my opinions on the actual smoke? Hestia's are awesome, however, they would not necessarily replace my daily cigarette consumption. They're definitely a more reserved smoke that shouldn't be sucked down 6 times a day, in my opinion. Perfect for the summer nights. The tobacco in there is fantastic, it's the paper that may give it the biggest difference. Since it is cigar paper, it definitely has that cigar taste. I enjoy cigars, but I can't smoke them anywhere near a daily basis. They burn slower, so you have your 6-8 minute burn with one of these bad boys. I love the packaging design, although, with the way I shove things around in my pocket, I'd need to muster up one of those cigarette holders to slide inside the package, because the package itself is a great little conversation stater, much like the Nat Shermans. Like I said, I've told a ton of people about this product and have given them out to share and have people try them. That's what I like doing most, is finding something new and different, and spreading the word like wildfire (not that I would start any wildfires...). I really like being that person that shares that new product with people in order to have them try something that they're not familiar with. So do I recommend smokers ordering a couple packs from their site? Absolutely, because even though I don't use them as a daily smoke, others might. Others might enjoy them much more than their cigarettes their consuming now. Plus, as stated above, two packs cost LESS than one of the packs you're grabbing from the shelves now, IF you're a city dweller, but you suburb folks can afford to switch it up a bit for a new breed of smoking. You won't regret it trying something different!

I mean, awesome, right?

I'd love to hear any opinions on what you smoke now or what you think about any of these brands listed. These companies are great about social networking as well if you want to give them a little love; Nat Shermans: @Nat42nd and Hestia: @HestiaTobacco.

All in all, I smoke cigarettes with the twinge of regret and pure joy. I enjoy stepping out and taking a moment to puff on something with good flavor, but I am conscious of what I'm doing to my body; lungs, skin, teeth, etc, so I do try to do what I can to make up for my habits. I will also say, that if I ever noticed any effect on my aerobic activity, I would have cut back, because that's motivation enough. For being a smoker, I am very active and do not have the struggle of coughing or gasping for breath after a solid amount of cardiovascular activity. It scares me that this won't always be the case. While I enjoy smoking, and I'll support these brands no matter what, there will eventually naturally come a time where I will hang up the habit. That time is not now, but it is in the eventual horizon. My opinion? If you're going to smoke, make it the good stuff.

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