In 1998 Florida University doctors announced that they were using antidepressants to help treat nicotine addiction. "This is a very, very tenacious addiction," said psychiatrist Dr Douglas Eaton. "This is as hard an addiction to beat as heroin or cocaine - it's right up there with the biggies."
Encouraging, huh? Well, either I'm incredibly hard, or there are two types of quitter: the ones who find it relatively easy if they set their minds to it, and the ones who find it a lifelong trauma. Otherwise, how to explain the fact that I can hardly remember being a smoker after only a month off the fags, while a friend of mine still has powerful cravings after five years and looks yearningly at every lit cigarette she comes across? Is it because she's a pussy?
My friend Esther quit two weeks after I did, and she says she is also finding it freakishly easy. Even my boyfriend, who made an unbelievable fuss in the early stages, is now easing up on the abject misery. He says that the feeling of wanting a fag but not having one has become peculiarly comforting, replacing the feeling that fags used to give him. "Having said that," he says, "I could murder a fag."
Maybe that old chestnut about addictive personalities is true. Or maybe there's such a thing as a non-addictive personality. In June 1998 Nature published a paper which found that some individuals carry a gene variant that may help protect them from becoming addicted to nicotine. "They have greater resistance to nicotine addiction and, if they do smoke, they smoke fewer cigarettes than individuals without the impairment," reported a team from the University of Toronto.