I packed 'em in on Monday. I call it Effort #4.
The first attempt was when I was about 19 and lasted three months. It came to an abrupt end when I was offered a celebratory cigar at a family event. Next morning I was back on 20 a day.
Effort #2 was during second year at Uni so I must have been 21 or 22. Hear me now. Don't ever try and give up smoking when you have near limitless access to good cannabis. I kidded myself on for three months that I had kicked the habit but was smoking pot morning, day and night. I had to get back on the fags to save my sanity.
The third attempt was actually a pretty good shot but brutally ironic in it's collapse. It was January 2006 and about three months before the public places smoking ban in Scotland. I'd woken up one morning feeling like I had spent the previous evening drinking dog shit cocktails. As the habit dictates, I popped a stick in me lips and put the kettle on. It made me feel so shit I vowed there and then that I wouldn't smoke again and, miraculously, I didn't smoke again for three months. Pride and annoying smugness overwhelmed me as a realised that after March 25, 2006 I wouldn't be one of those muppets who has to stand outside pubs smoking in the rain. Then, on March 25, the last night you were legally allowed to smoke in a public place in Scotland, some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to have one last fag as a farewell salute to communal cancer and a welcoming gesture to a new era in public health. First hour of the ban and I'm back on 20 a day.
Which brings us to January 2007 and the hitherto-unknown constipatory effects of "packin' 'it in."
I was eight hours into Effort #4, driving along listening to Scott Mills on Radio 1 when Mills starts banging on about his co-presenter, Rachel. She has, like me, quit smoking but eight days earlier.
"Go sister," thinks I.
"Tell 'em when you last had a poo Rach," commanded Mills.
"Go on. Tell 'em. If you don't, I will."
"Eight days ago."
My sphincter tightens.
"That's right. Eight days ago listeners."
Mills then opens a national sweepstake encouraging people to guess when Rachel will successfully have a dump. My favourite was "during the opening ceremony of London 2012". The next day on the same programme she still hasn't been nor, more importantly, have I. They even invite Doctor Mark Somethingorother onto the show to talk about it and he says it can take TWO WEEKS.
Rachel's worried. I'm worried. She's worried that the poop will back right up to her mouth but Doctor Mark says that won't happen because your intestines are 24 feet long.I'm worried that when it does arrive its going to do so violently and I'll be in a lorry on a motorway at the time.
Fortunately for Rachel, it came the next day after a total of nine. I took nowhere near as long - five days - and I'm quite proud that it happened between Newcastle and Edinburgh aboard one of Richard Branson's fancy new, but hideously over-priced, Pendolino trains.
If you smoke, please don't take all this as a reason not to quit. I do, in every respect, feel brilliant. I feel more alert and energetic. Money seems to last longer. I'm evenly cautiously warming to the fact that I might one day be a granddad rather than a photo. These are some but by no means all of the worthy and priceless outcomes of stopping smoking. You're not 'giving up', you're gaining tons.