I've been reading about how Dave Winer nearly had a heart attack recently, ending up in the hospital for a short stay. The diagnosis is that it was apparently aggravated by heavy smoking. So now he's grappling with quitting. Most interesting to me is that I've been reading his weblog for several years now (despite the fact that he's an opinionated and hypocritical egotist a lot of the time), and he's never once let slip that he smokes. I don't think he was concealing things, I just think that he took it for granted, like breathing. And now he doesn't.
I smoked for several years when I was young and immortal. I attempted to quit once while in college (exactly where I started) and failed. When I met Jean I decided to quit for real. I started by switching to low-tar cigarettes, then lower still. Then I rationed myself to x cigarettes per day, gradually reducing the number x. Finally the day came when I was down to my final pack. The entire process took several weeks. That day, I made sure I wasn't working or doing anything stressful. I don't remember what I did do. Probably went to a movie.
I was braced for terrible cravings, a vulture perched on my shoulder. But it never arrived. I'm sorry to tell all the other ex-smokers out there, but quitting was easy. While awake, I never experienced a craving. When sleeping, I would occasionally have a dream where I inadvertently lit up a cigarette, and thought "Oh damn. Now I'll have to start all over again." Then I'd wake up and realize I hadn't smoked after all, and feel relieved. So I guess I only needed a smoke when it couldn't hurt me.
And now I have a kid, and I'm glad I'm not oh-so-unthinkingly subjecting her to second-hand smoke. You could say I'm exposing her to second-hand health.