At the close, there was more anticlimactic choreography: each of us was made to stand up in turn and throw our lighter and remaining cigarettes into a bin next to our jubilant seminar leader.
It’s difficult to put into words how I felt after that – or have done since then. I certainly experienced no sense of conversion or fundamental change in my mindset. I didn’t feel magically cured of my addiction. But staring out of the window on the train home, I recall watching a woman of similar age standing awkwardly in a doorway. Her body was contorted and her face scrunched up as she vainly tried to smoke her Superking while avoiding the wind and drizzle. She was wet. She didn’t look as if she was enjoying herself at all. But she persisted. And at that precise moment, it struck me as the most bizarre thing I’d ever seen. All I could think was: why? Why would you do that to yourself?
Once upon a time, if someone had asked me the same question, I might have answered with a petulant, albeit unconvincing, “Why not?”
But now I can say quite plainly: “Because I don’t have to.”