What should I call myself?
Recently one of our members here at Freedom asked whether or not she should call herself a non-smoker since she had quit smoking. Basically the answer is yes, although for some people it can create a state of confusion. These are people who look at the term from a historical perspective and sometimes, on official documentation such as insurance forms there may be a legal distinction. But for personal purposes, the term is fine as long as you understand that there is a difference between a non-smoker and a never-smoker.
Other terms that can apply are ex-smoker, reformed smoker, recovering smoker, or arrested smoker. Although, I think they should all be preceded by "very happy" as in "very happy ex-smoker" so the term doesn't have a tone of sadness or deprivation to the person it is being said to.
As I said above, non-smoker really does apply, since you don't smoke, but historically, before smoker and non-smoker had any real negative or positive connotations, many people coined the term to refer to a person who never smoked a day in their life. I guess the more accurate term for what is considered by many as a non-smoker would be a "never smoker." But it is hard to undo commonly accepted terminology.
Again, there is a big difference between a never smoker and an ex-smoker. Even though physically and mentally they may feel the same, all attitudes might in fact be exact; there is a physiological difference. The ex-smoker still has an addiction. It is asymptomatic but exists none the less. The difference may only be apparent in one major situation.
A never smoker could, if they really wanted to, which, for no logical reason should ever happen, take a nice deep puff on a cigarette. In all likelihood, they would cough, gag, and sometimes, even throw up from such a stupid and impulsive act, feel crummy for a while and never consider doing it again.
An ex-smoker could do the same irrational act, taking a drag, coughing, gag, and maybe even throw up. They could feel absolutely horrible, physiologically, maybe even worse than the never smoker who did the same thing. They could end up hating themselves for having done it. Then within minutes, or hours or maybe days, they will have an uncontrollable urge and take another. May even get the same reactions, feel absolutely horrible and sick. But soon they take more and hit possibly levels of multiple packs per day.
But the difference lies in the fact that the first drag, even though unpleasant, creates the uncontrollable urge in the ex-smoker as compared to a repulsion in the never smoker. For the act of a drag to the ex-smoker is a drug relapse. The addiction that was lying dormant is brought back to full force.
You are an ex-smoker now, or whatever term you are comfortable with. But always in the background of consciousness, remember you are still and always will be a recovering nicotine addict. It is not necessarily a pleasant way to think of oneself, but it is essential to have the basic understanding that because of a past behavior you always have to be on guard. For as negative of a connotation than ex-smoker may have to an individual, it is far superior to having to say, "I am a smoker."
A smoker is a person who is currently under control of a drug, constantly administering dose after dose, with every single puff, dozens to maybe hundreds of times a day. And with that active drug, nicotine, they are also talking in 40 carcinogens (cancer producing chemicals), four thousand other chemicals, hundreds of them poisonous (Arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, just to name a few.) They are increasing their risks of some of the most debilitating and fatal diseases known to man. They smell perpetually bad, they are social outcasts while actively practicing their drug delivery system.
Yes ex-smoker may not sound perfect, but active smoker is a horrible thing to have to admit to and experience. To keep your current status of whatever you want to call it, and never be caught again in the deadly way of life of a smoker, remember...never take another puff!