Carrying Cigarettes

Carrying Cigarettes

Joel
Joel

March 13th, 2001, 9:08 pm #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library





"I'm going to have to carry
cigarettes with me at all times
for me to quit smoking."




I hear this comment almost every time I start a new clinic. The smoker truly believes that if he does not have cigarettes with him, he will not succeed in quitting. His reasoning for carrying cigarettes is that he has to show himself that he is stronger than the cigarettes, or that if he is faced with some traumatic stress he will need a cigarette to survive through the situation. Both of these beliefs carry serious implications, which almost guarantee failure at permanent cessation from cigarettes.

The first hypothesis-that the smoker must show he is stronger than the cigarette-assumes that the smoker believes he is stronger than his cigarettes. This is the gravest mistake the smoker can make. He is not stronger than his addiction. The day he admits this fact will be the day he has a fighting chance at quitting, the day he forgets it will be the day he again is caught in the grip of addiction.

If he were stronger, he would have been smoking one or two cigarettes a day whenever he wanted. But by the time he enrolled in our clinic he was probably smoking twenty to thirty times that amount. If he were stronger than cigarettes, he would never have showed his face in a smoking clinic. He would have just stopped. But at the time he joined, he recognized he was not in control. He was probably out of control for many years. And as with any other addictive drug, he would never be in control again. Once he forgets that cigarettes controlled him, he will probably smoke his first cigarette. That will be a tragic day when he relapses into his past addiction and he may never be able to muster the strength necessary to break free from cigarettes again.

The second idea-that cigarettes are essential to overcome life's traumas-will almost certainly result in smoking within days of trying to stop. No matter how thorough the smoker is at planning a tranquil period when stress is at a minimum, stress will occur. With cigarettes present, one is sure to be taken. Even if he overcomes that one situation, the idea that cigarettes are capable of making life bearable is a false and dangerous belief.

The smoker feels he needs cigarettes to function properly in our world. Then he takes it one step further, he begins to believe that he will not only be less effective at functioning, he will be totally incapable of surviving. He is giving up the substance that makes life possible. With this belief present, he has about as good a chance of giving up smoking as he has of giving up breathing or eating. If cigarettes are essential to maintain life, quitting is a futile effort. But this is just not true. Everything a smoker can do with cigarettes he can do without them, but he will not learn this or believe it until he successfully quits and starts dealing with life without smoking.

Don't ever forget how cigarettes once controlled your behaviors and beliefs. When you quit smoking you admitted cigarettes controlled you. You were literally afraid that one puff could put you back. That was not an irrational fear. One puff today will lead to the same tragic results as it would have the day you quit. Cigarettes were stronger than you before, and, if given the chance, will be stronger than you again. If you want to show you are now in control, do it by admitting you can function without having cigarettes as a worthless and dangerous crutch. To permanently stay free from cigarettes, all that needs to be done is to NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

Edited June 17, 2012 to add related video
Last edited by Joel on June 17th, 2012, 1:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Joel
Joel

March 16th, 2001, 10:00 pm #2

I know I just had this one up a couple of days ago, but it really is an important one. So many people lose quits because they really miss the importance of this one. Keeping them to show you are stronger is a pretty strong sign that you don't appreciate just how strong the addiction is. You won't win this battle by being stronger than nicotine, you will win it by being smarter than nicotine.

If you keep them around to help in case of emergency, you are still looking at cigarettes as good things with mystical qualities of helping in crisis. As many have said here before, a relapse does not help any crisis, it is a crisis in its own right, one that in almost every case is bigger than the one leading you to take the cigarette. Because the crisis of a relapse can eventually take your health and then take your life.

Stay focused on the fact that you are quitting because you want to, because you want to live a long and healthy life. To accomplish both goals always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joel

March 26th, 2001, 9:52 pm #3

Hello again Marty. Of course I am bringing this one up again for obvious reasons. The risks of carrying cigarettes as discussed in this letter are obvious. But there is another issue not mentioned in here. It is at what point does a person move on from the emotional state of being a smoker trying to quit to the phase of considering him or herself an ex-smoker. See, ex-smokers, or non-smokers or never smokers don't carry cigarettes. There is no reason to. Smoking is not a part of their life anymore or in the case of a never smoker, it never was. As long as you keep cigarettes you are keeping the mindset that you are a smoker trying not to smoke. As long as you feel this mindset, you will have issues of being a smoker trying not to smoke. Some where down the line you want to change your attitude to that of an ex-smoker. You are still at risk as an ex-smoker, one puff and the quit can go out the window, but the time period that you are fixated on thoughts of smoking will get further and further apart and diminish in overall intensity. This can all expedited by the simple act of getting rid of cigarettes. So besides the obvious risk, the less than obvious ones are also worth considering.

We are all dealing with addiction here. Carrying cigarettes once you have quit is as logical as carrying a flask of alcohol when in recovery for alcoholism or carrying heroin or cocaine when recovering from those substances. The risks are great. It may cost the recovering addict their quit. In the case of illegal substances, it may cost them their freedom. While the smoker may not end up incarcerated from carrying their cigarettes, it can ultimately take an even higher toll, it can, if under a weak moment or a temporary loss of judgment it can cost him or her their quit and that can cost him or her their health and ultimately their life. It simply is not worth the risk. Your best route for mental health and for physical health is always to keep yourself nicotine free. The best way to accomplish that is not having personal sources of nicotine and when encountering other people's stashes to stay focused on the fact that your plan is to never take another puff!

Joel
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marty (gold)
marty (gold)

March 26th, 2001, 10:12 pm #4

Joel
I didn't find this site until 6 weeks into my quit, so I hadn't read your advice while I was still carrying cigarettes. I realise now that I was risking my quit for no better reason than my own macho pride. I was lucky! I only mentioned it in my post to demonstrate exactly that point - pitting your belief in your own strength of will against the strength of nicotine addiction is a foolish risk to take with something that is simply too important to play macho games with - QUITTING.
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marty (gold)
marty (gold)

March 26th, 2001, 10:17 pm #5

...and Joel, I hadn't thought about the mental attitude thing. You're right that while I was carrying cigarettes I was thinking about myself as someone in the process of quitting. When I threw them away after 6 weeks I immediately thought of myself as an ex-smoker. NICE THOUGHT - thanks.
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Joel
Joel

March 26th, 2001, 10:24 pm #6

Hello Marty:

I suspected that might have been the case. This is a clear example of how people have gotten off by methods that are ill advised. Even though they sometimes work, as it did for you, there were real risks involved with the process. That is what we try to do on this board. Not censor the topic but openly point out the risks with a particular method, trying to make this quit the safest and most effective for everyone. We can't make everyone believe everything, but we feel we have an obligation to at least point out the pitfalls that a specific technique may present. Thanks for understanding. Didn't want you to think I was giving you a hard time.

Some things are worth debate, but one issue should not be questioned by anyone. That is to be able to stay smoke free over the long haul, you must never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joel

July 6th, 2001, 1:12 am #7

I see we have a number of new members in and that this one has not circulated for over a month. It covers the issue of carrying cigarettes as well as the issue of being careful not to perpetuate other "bad habits" from past quits that even though they may have worked the last time, they pose a particular risk for others and may even be a high risk for you this time around. We always try to give tricks and suggestions that carry the best chance of success and the least risk. We also try to expose tactics that while they may be widely accepted by some as good ideas, they may actually have logical flaws that can cost a person their quit.

We have one piece of information though that is above reproach and any controversy though and that is to stay free from smoking all you need to keep in practice is to never take another puff!

Joel
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pammers
pammers

July 31st, 2001, 11:14 am #8

Thanks,Joel. You say"carrying cigarettes once you have quit is as logical as carrying a flask of alcohol when in recovery for alcoholism or carrying heroin or cocaine when recovering from those substances." I had never looked at it that way and it totally makes sense.
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Treese (Silver)
Treese (Silver)

July 31st, 2001, 11:39 am #9

Joel
Even before I ever found this site, I knew that I was not strong enough not to smoke if I carried cigs with me. It took me until I found this site to resist going to the store to buy them once I decided to quit. I would always go out and buy them after not smoking for a day. Decided that I would quit again after I finished off that pack. It was a never ending cycle. As soon as I was out of them for a day if I lasted that long, I would go get another pack and say I'll quit as SOON as I finished this one pack. I finally realized that I was so sick of myself and knew that if I had them I would definately smoke them. I was sick of myself for being so weak. Then I found this site. Thanks for teaching me that we are addicts and that we can NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!! I have control now and it feels SOOOO GOOD!!
Treese @5 weeks
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pammers
pammers

July 31st, 2001, 12:08 pm #10

OMG Treese, I can totally relate to what you're saying. I was doing exactly the same thing.I'd go a few hours without and then whip out to the store and get yet another pack,telling myself that "THIS WAS IT,FOR SURE!" I was always determined to make THAT pack the last one.Boy,what a vicious draining cycle.Everynight I went to bed cursing myself about what a loser I was,which then leads to depression.....and on and on.Congratulations Treese on 5 weeks,you really give me hope.Your doing fantastic!
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Joel
Joel

August 10th, 2001, 9:33 pm #11

I saw today and I think I saw yesterday comments made by new members about finding butts and being tempted to smoke them. It is important that when butts are encountered in your homes, or worse yet, whole cigarettes or packs are found, they should be promptly destroyed--not just "disposed" of. As can be seen by the comments in today's example, the temptation to go into a garbage and take out a butt and put in in your mouth is real. If you think about it, what else have you ever considered digging through trash for in order to put it in your mouth? Unless faced with a period of severe starvation--nothing else ever tempted you this way.

But cigarettes are an addiction and addiction will make you think things and worse yet, do things that totally defy normal logic. In order that nicotine can never exert this level of control on you again, always remember that it did control you to this extent before, analyze how you feel about that fact, and your likely decision from that fact alone will be to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joel

November 13th, 2001, 6:21 pm #12

By the way, this letter should read carrying any nicotine product, meaning cigarettes, cigars, snuff, patches, gum, nicotine inhalers, lozenges, drops, etc. Anyone who is carrying any or all of these products "just in case" is setting him or herself up for a relapse. There should be no distinction drawn in anyone's mind that if he or she "just" takes a NRT product in lieu of a cigarette to survive a disaster that it is a more acceptable or udnerstanding practice. It is a drug relapse clear and simple and no distinction should exist in your mind. The ONLY way to overcome the addiction is by staying NICOTINE free and the ONLY way of staying NICOTINE free is by never administering nicotine via any route--meaning through the skin, nose, mouth, or any other creative route of administration that is ever developed and of course as far as the most common and available route of delivery, to remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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amey (bronze)
amey (bronze)

December 16th, 2001, 12:26 pm #13

I know that this would be catastrophic for my quit... I had to make sure I had none of my own around........ because I have never"mooched" smokes.. So for me it did not matter if some one else smokes..... as long as they didn't belong to me....... for me if I had paid for them then I couldn't deny myself....... so..... what I had to do is make sure that none that I bought were in my presence when my quit began......so I know that I will be strong.... because I will not buy cigs for any reason..... not for my dad..... not for my brother.... not for my friends..... and not for my husband........ as long as I don't pay money for them I will not have them...... therefore my solution is : don't buy cigarrets for any body for any reason..........even if it ticks them off...... my resolution is that if they want to poison themselves...... they will have to do it themselves....... amey
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Joel
Joel

December 16th, 2001, 8:22 pm #14

Hello Amey:

I have to tell you there is one dangerous thought here--the idea that as long as you don't buy cigarettes you are safe. Buying is not the biggest issue, it is smoking one, and more accurately, taking a puff off one that will undo a quit, no matter how you obtained it.

I can't tell you how many times in the past when I am following up a clinic I hear the person at the other end of the phone say that they are doing okay, they are not buying cigarettes. As soon as I hear these words I know I have a relapsed smoker on the other end who likely is in a chronic withdrawal state because they are having a very difficult time sustaining nicotine levels at any kind of a comfortable amount by bumming one after another from every smoker they know.

Or they may be the truly creative person who buys carton after carton of cigarettes for one friend, only to "borrow" back a pack or two a day to keep their own nicotine withdrawal at bay. You see, these people are not buying cigarettes for themselves, just for their friend. The friend loves it, they get lots of free cigarettes. The smoker loves it, because he or she can delude himself or herself that he or she is now in control since he or she does not buy cigarettes anymore. What a waste. That smoker is wasting a lot of money and is aiding in the destruction of his or her friend. Maybe one day when the friend is paying the full face value, he or she would realize it is just to expensive and that may instigate that persons initial quit.

Whatever starts the quit is great, but the issue that will sustain the quit will likely be more mutifaceted that just the cost. It will be the realization of all the benefits gained by not smoking. The Freedom, the cost savings, the social benefits, the eradication of the stench, the increases in energy, the reduction of stress, the end of the chronic withdrawals and nicotine feeding frenzies, the increase in overall wellness and then the ultimate payoff, the longer and healthier life, that when considered in its whole will make a person realize that their long-term goal will always be to never take another puff!

Joel
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OBob Gold
OBob Gold

December 31st, 2001, 4:35 am #15

Wow. That was me in the early days. Buying packs for friends, and only borrowing a few back. Dang, I thought I was the only one who had thought of that. Of course, it was only a matter of time before I was buying them for myself, and slowly building my addiction. Ugh.
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Joel
Joel

January 13th, 2002, 1:08 am #16

For JanetD:

If you ever find an unclaimed cigarette laying around that even tempts you for a second, simply destroy it. If you were to take it and light it you'd be destroying it anyway, and destroying yourself in the process. If you really feel guilty just leave 50 cents in its place with a note, maybe something to the effect--"Sorry I destroyed your cigarette before it had a chance to really hurt me. Here is 50 cents you can put toward your next pack. Or maybe you left it because you finally decided to stop destroying yourself. If that is the case, good for you! Keep the 50 cents then too--you deserve it for having quit and will see a lot more of it being saved over your lifetime."
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Jerm (Gold)
Jerm (Gold)

January 21st, 2002, 8:52 am #17

, I'm almost crying from laughing so much. I am picturing me throwing my roommates every pack of cigarettes I find in my house!! I think he would kill me, but a good message to send to him that I don't want to see them anymore.
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Joel
Joel

February 20th, 2002, 4:16 am #18

For Ladybird:

Sealing cigarettes may not be enough. Flush them down the toilet. If done right, they become almost impossible to retrieve and if you somehow go through the extraordinary effort of going into your plumbing system and getting them they are very difficult to light. I actually never met anyone who went through such an effort--and if I do I won't be shaking their hands any time soon.

Joel
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murphying (Gold)
murphying (Gold)

March 17th, 2002, 7:08 pm #19

I must be the exception that proves the rule on this one. When I quit this time I remembered that every other time I tried to quit I panicked after our local shop closed at night - knowing it was a long drive to anywhere from where we live to find anything open. Keep in mind that this was before I found the Freedom site.
So I decided to use a bit of psychology on myself after I set my quit date and kept an unopened packet of cigarettes at home.
For me it worked - at the end of a week when I felt much more confident in myself, I cashed them back in at the store. I have to say that not once during that week was I the slightest bit tempted to open that packet.....and I suffered no 'panic' when the shop closed in the evenings.
I can understand that this wouldn't have worked for others though - in fact judging by some posts it would have been disastrous!

Ingrid
2 Months 2 Weeks 3 Days 4 Hours 25 Minutes 55 Seconds.
Cigarettes not smoked: 3809. Money saved: NZ$1,618.92. Self Esteem 100%


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ThreecrowsGold
ThreecrowsGold

March 17th, 2002, 9:40 pm #20

This reminds me of when my mother quit ten years ago. She did so with an entire carton of cigs in her freezer. She never once touched them, however, I relieved her of them quickly. lol.

I have to be honest, if I had had a cigarette I would have smoked it. Even now I do not entertain buying, smoking, having any around me at all because I am a nicotine junkie and I know as soon as I started that it would be all over and I would have to start again. Weak, I know, but self honesty is never pretty.

Many thanks, love and peace to the freedomites!
Liz aka threecrows

PS the hillside is coming along, funny how much I object to chemical toxins after pumping them into myself for almost 30 years.
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Joel
Joel

March 17th, 2002, 10:25 pm #21

Hello Ingrid:

You are not the only exception to this rule-I am sure there are others around here. We put out guidelines that enhance an individual's chance of success. Some people may get by with doing things differently, but they often had put themselves at greater risk than should have been necessary. In clinics I sometimes find out people had kept emergency stashes, some for years, yet got away with it and pulled off the quit. But I encounter many more people who lose their quits early on, and when I ask where they got the first cigarette from it turns out that they had kept an emergency stash "just in case." Well just in case kind of events surfaced and the easy availability ended up costing these people their quits. I have been in this field long enough to witness these people later losing their lives from such actions.

So does everyone have to follow everything we say to guarantee success? No, not really. But do people have a better chance following the advice and life lessons of hundreds or thousands of people as opposed to a few exceptions? I will let each and every one of you be the judge of that.

But one rule has no exceptions-the rule that says to stay smoke free and guarantee that this quit the last quit you will ever have to do requires always remembering to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joel
Joel

March 17th, 2002, 10:40 pm #22

I lifted this post off the Buddy System thread. It adds a little more perspective to the previous post here.

Joel

I thought it would be a good time to point out that we really are different than most other boards out there. I am not saying it is better or worse, just different. People come in here that have often been at other boards first where the rule of the day is everyone has good ideas of how to quit. The fact is, many people come with their old techniques and understanding of how to quit. That is why many if them are current smokers. Their old techniques failed them. We on the other hand are trying to share methods ands approaches that are tried and true. Not methods that one person used and it seemed to work for them, but that you can find dozens of people who used the exact same method only to have it basically undercut their quits. We are trying to highlight the methods that enhances the vast majority of members and even ex-smoking non-members overall success.

It is not that we are not against newbies offering support, but just that they should hang around a while first, read all of our philosophies and try to understand what we are doing here and why we have some of our guidelines in place.

If a person has a difference of opinion with our technique, which is basically quit cold turkey, don't carry cigarettes and never take another puff, they should not post about it on the board. If they want to discuss it with management, we can each be emailed and we will explain why we don't advocate a specific piece of advice. Or maybe we will see your point and modify our approach.

But if a new member reads it in their first days of a quit, before we have a chance to point out the pitfalls, they may think that this advice is accepted strategy for enhancing smoking cessation. The fact is for most people, if the advice in contradictory to our basic premise, it is probably going to be counterproductive to the person's quit. People just quitting who are hanging on for dear life will often grasp onto things that are written in our posts and responses. The addiction would love to get some support from a basically bad piece of advice that makes the potential for relapsing seem a bit easier.

Also, we need to keep focused on the real danger of the buddy system. The buddy may have the best advice in the world, and the other buddy may really count on the person to get them through thick and thin. But there is no guarantee that the buddy will be available when needed or worst, there is no guarantee that the buddy won't be a smoker next time contacted. Stranger things have happened.

Count on yourself first. You can count to some degree on the group after that, but there have even been times where due to technical difficulties the whole group disappears all at once. Again, that is where counting on yourself is paramount. Print out your own reasons for having initially quit. Print out materials here that struck a personal chord helping you at a critical moment. Have alternative resources of support established. But don't count on one individual, no matter who they are. The stakes are too high to gamble on one person helping you when he or she may not be able to do this for him or herself.

Joel
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Joel
Joel

May 1st, 2002, 7:51 pm #23

My gosh, I have not brought up this one in a long time. Ex-smokers should never carry cigarettes--not from day one of a quit. One reason is for the real risk of smoking it, and the second reason is that as long as a person keeps cigarettes he or she is also keeping a mindset that he or she is a smoker trying not to smoke as opposed to being an ex-smoker. Ex-smokers and never smokers never keep cigarettes--why would they? It serves no purpose to them.

As long as a person feels like a smoker trying not to smoke, he or she is going to have the psychological problems and play the little mind games of a smoker trying not to smoke. When you cross over to the frame of mind that you are not a smoker trying not to smoke but rather you are now an ex-smoker--and that is what you want to be--the psychological benefit can be both powerful and profound.

If you work on proper frame of mind in the beginning, you can feel this difference a minute into your quit and you will prove yourself right as long as you always remember that you are committed to never take another puff!

Joel
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Slycat
Slycat

May 1st, 2002, 11:50 pm #24

Hi Joel:

I can still feel that pack of cigarettes in my hand. I use to hold it in my right hand and do everything else I was doing like driving or writing something on a piece of paper or anything. That pack of cigarettes was always in my right hand with the lighter in the pack along with my cigarettes. I would hopefully finish the first couple of cigarettes from that pack fast so I could fit my lighter in the pack. It was one nifty, condensed package that had everything I needed in it to smoke a cigarette. Sometimes I would chew on the bottom of the cigarette box. I never realized what I was doing though. Not until now.

When I first tried to quit I was having a really hard time. I thought that if I brought a pack of cigarettes and lit them up one by one and burned them in the ashtray in front of me so that the smoke would go into my face, I would be o.k. Well that just started me on smoking again besides all the second hand smoke I inhaled that weekend. Even my eyes were tearing.

How stupid. Well when I quit after that I just got rid of everything. I thought I would be looking for something to play with in my right hand but I haven't missed the feeling, although I can still feel the pack in my hand sometimes (strange). I know people that I work with here that quit (a couple of people quit for 10 years). They always kept a pack of cigarettes with them during this time. I mean 10 years is a long time to quit. Well, they both went back to smoking cigarettes after 10 years but never smoked any of the cigarettes in that pack they just held onto. One girl had a scare of thyroid cancer and that made her quit for 10 years and the other one gained too much weight so she went back. Maybe just the reminder of holding onto those cigarettes for that long was too strong for them.

Well I just wanted to get through the first week because once you do that you can keep going. If I quit for 10 years I would hopefully never want to go back. I guess the feeling of that cigarette pack in my right hand will diminish over time. I'm sure all symptons will go away.....

Thanks...Judy
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John (Gold)
John (Gold)

June 3rd, 2002, 12:31 am #25

A quitter keeping cigarettes around just to prove they can, is akin to a person on suicide watch carrying a loaded gun. With a triggered crave being less than 3 minutes in duration (be sure and look at a clock as your mind may try to convince you that it's 3 hours instead) one of your best weapons against relapse is delay, delay, delay! Why take it away!

Each crave will end in a very short period of time whether you feed it or not. If you know where "it" or "they" are, then you'd be well advised to flush or crush your hidden stash! Baby steps to glory! This is doable! YQB John
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