My First Cigarette

I have a clear memory of my first cigarette. At the age of thirteen I was beginning to exercise some independence, and I was enjoying the loosening of parental monitoring that comes with being a teenager. A group of friends and I had headed to Bournemouth beach for the day. We were fuelled by a sense of newfound maturity, and a current of excitement ran through the group – for an entire day we would be free from any kind of parental interference, and we weren’t going to waste the opportunity.

One of the group had managed to procure some cigarettes. His name was Olly, and he was particularly disliked by my mother on account of his rebellious streak (not to mention his smoking habit). Through spending a large amount of his free time standing outside his local corner-shop and pestering the unfortunate denizens of Havant for cigarettes, Olly had managed to build-up quite a stash for our day at the beach. Although Olly had been smoking all day, I was reluctant to get involved, fearing my parent’s wrath (should they somehow find out) and also suffering from a distinct sensation that the world would implode, somehow, if I was to partake in this most-forbidden activity. 

As the day progressed the dreaded moment arrived – Olly offered me a cigarette. But there was more. With a little teenage ingenuity, he had managed to take apart the cigarette and re-engineer it with a hunk of weed sitting somewhere, hidden, along the shaft. Having never smoked in my life, let alone smoked cannabis, my sense of the impending universe implosion became doubly acute. The inclusion of an illicit substance into the fold also meant that I felt even more obliged to step-up and show my worth. 

As platitudes pertaining to ‘manning up’ and ‘not pussying out’ ran through my head, I began to build in confidence, and I started to imagine that I might actually look quite cool smoking a cigarette. My friends at school would surely admire me, and there was even a chance that one of the girls in our group would be impressed, or so I increasingly became sure. I took the cigarette. Olly lit it for me, and I took a deep drag...

...and coughed for five minutes. Everyone laughed, and I felt enormously embarrassed (not to mention the head rushing and nausea!)

 As I look back now, having smoked for six odd years, I guess I got over that initial embarrassment. I’m very happy to have recently quit, although perhaps I should have taken my friends’ laughter to heart and stopped smoking that first cigarette – my lungs would probably have thanked me for it!