What should I call myself?

What should I call myself?

Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

October 29th, 2000, 10:01 pm #1

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!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 16th, 2001, 7:25 am #2

For those who are calling themselves non-smokers. It is fine for the outside world, but please keep remembering and celebrating the fact that you broke free from the iron clad grip nicotine once had on you, and one, that if you ever give it the opportunity again, will take you down the road of active addiction in a second. You are a non-smoker currently, and an ex-smoker, and to keep both of these states of being going always remember to never take another puff!



Joel








New video version of this post created August 4, 2012


Another new video that ties into this string, added June 11, 2013:


"I'm trying to quit smoking"


A February 2014 video that ties into this string: Carrying mock cigarettes
Last edited by Joel on March 2nd, 2014, 6:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:00 am

January 18th, 2001, 5:25 am #3

for all our new EX smokers....from another EX smoker and loving it....I never want to forget that I smoked even though I regret it.......to do so might send me back to the arms of my addiction and living this past year as an exsmoker has been wonderful....these two words have been music to my ears "I QUIT".

linda......After smoking for 41 years...I have been smokefree for one year, two weekS, 4 hourS, 23 minuteS and 46 secondS. 7603 cigaretteS not smoked, saving $1,140.55.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

February 2nd, 2001, 7:04 am #4

Before Joel had a little talk with me I really did consider myself a nonsmoker. I had made up my mind! I didn't need being taught otherwise! I took the news pretty hard. I was mad at Joel for a couple of days. How dare he spoil my vision of myself But it made so much sense that I decided to be honest. I'm an ex-smoker and dang proud of it!
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Joined: January 7th, 2009, 7:26 pm

February 9th, 2001, 3:58 am #5

From my LUNGS to Your LUNGS.

Who cares what it is called as long as we are FREE.

Maybe that's what WE should called it .

CIGAFREE!!
That would be pretty cool,

Hey buddy you fot a cigarette!

Nah im CIGAFREE!
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

March 10th, 2001, 7:41 pm #6

This one kind of hits on the issue covered yesterday of why people take the second puff, at least ex-smokers that is. Why you originally took the second puff before you were ever a smoker that is not so clearly understood and may be variable. I suspect for a lot of people, they took the second one for the same reason they took the first, to look cool or fit in with the person or group that initiated the first. Others I suspect found the jolt of nicotine exciting and pleasurable, even though the other chemical burned their lungs and caused them to gag, they recognized the pharmacological hit and kept trying to recapture it. Whatever the reason, the end result was the same. One of them finally hooked them and brought them to the state that by the time they showed up here, they had smoked thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, and were sick enough of smoking to come search us out.

So don't worry about the second puff anymore. The first puff is the only one you are fighting today. Everytime you win that fight, you remain a champion over your addiction, you keep the control, your health and most likely your life. To stay a winner always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

March 17th, 2001, 11:06 pm #7

I saw where Triinu wrote that she was not a smoker anymore. That is true for everyone here, and we are happy about that for all. But everyone must still remember that they have become ex-smokers, not never smokers. Never allow distance of time and experiences of not smoking lead to complacency. You can all do everything as ex-smokers that you did as smokers and still stay successful in your quit. Everything with one exception, the one thing you can't do as an ex-smoker and stay successful is to forget to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

March 26th, 2001, 9:55 pm #8

Kind of ties in to the carrying cigarettes issue again. Ex-smokers, non-smokers, and never smokers don't buy or carry cigarettes. Active smokers and smokers still trying to quit do though. What category sounds best to you? If it is the the ex-smoker--non-smoker classification, don't carry cigarettes and remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

May 9th, 2001, 2:50 pm #9

My name is Zep and I'm an X-smoker!
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:00 am

May 9th, 2001, 11:17 pm #10

I'm proud of being an ex-smoker too! Just thinking about what I've done for myself and my future - why would I want to hide that from anybody? I smoked. Then I quit, and this is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I feel like I should be able to put it on my resume: THERE IS NOTHING I CAN'T DO NOW!
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Joined: January 9th, 2009, 11:31 pm

June 15th, 2001, 4:16 am #11

Joel,
I will call myself a "happy ex-smoker". I can see the green bus from here and looking forward to hopping on. Yesterday, I had the joy of walking with one of my daughters at the park. Instead of being focused on my selfish cigarette needs, I was focused on what she was saying. I wouldn't give that moment up for a million dollars. Without cigarettes, my life has changed so much.

At first it was the fear of getting sick that made me stop. Now it is more and more the pleasures I focus on. I still fear cancer and the like, but when an urge hits me, I think of the many joys of Freedom.

Thank all of you for your help.
Ken
Cigarette free for 3 weeks and 2 days.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 10th, 2001, 5:42 am #12

It's very natural to want to quit and become just like everyone else - normal! There's just one problem, that very day that your mind demanded more nicotine and sent you a message telling you so, your brain was altered forever.

The primary difference between an ex-smoker and never-smoker at autopsy is the number of nicotine receptors found in the brain. My brain has been nicotine free for over two years but just like yours it's just a puff of new nicotine away from returning to my old level of consumption or greater. For me that means at least three packs a day! The law of relapse may be black and white but as long as I stay on this side of the fence I'll enjoy the same calmness and comfort experienced never smokers : )
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 22nd, 2001, 10:01 pm #13

For Patsiepoo:

Just to make sure you understand the difference between an ex-smoker and a never smoker. They are both non-smokers now but the ex-smoker's brain chemistry is altered is still addicted even though over time there is no sign of the addiction.

Also, as far as smoking not being an option, it is actually an option for all ex-smokers, even all never smokers. It is just a bad option, one that will cost a person his or her freedom of choice and over time will cost the person his or her health and eventually life. Smoking is always an option, but for the smoker who doesn't quit, breathing one day will not be--years or even decades earlier than death should have ever happened. Remember this and you will always pursue your option to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

August 10th, 2001, 7:03 pm #14

Quite a few people here have been discussing this question. While it may seem like an unimportant issue, just a matter of words, I think that what we call ourselves is an important reflection of how we think of ourselves and our quit. My own view is that there are three stages we go thru, rather like our color codes.

When I started my quit, I thought of myself as a QUITTER, and when people asked me if I smoked I immediately replied "I just quit".

After about 4 months, I had become much more comfortable with my quit, I was no longer worried about maintaining the quit, I stopped having any real desire to smoke a cigarette, but I continued to have very mild cigarette thoughts daily. I remained continually on guard against triggers, and remained aware all the time that I had quit smoking. This was when I thought of myself as an EX-SMOKER, and when people asked me if I smoke I replied "No, but I used to".

Now, after 8 months, I do not encounter triggers, the thoughts of cigarettes pop up twice a week, almost unnoticed, there is no stress of any kind in my quit, I would no more smoke a cigarette than jump off the top of a building. Now I think of myself as NON-SMOKER, and when people ask me if I smoke I simply reply "No".

What I have called myself over time is a reflection of my self-confidence in my quit, and my self-image, my view of myself. And I think that what we call ourselves is important as a statement to ourselves of what we have achieved, and where we have got to.

The one name I can never aspire to is NEVER-SMOKER. Too late for that, but at least I can now influence my grandchildren and other young people to acquire that title, and to keep it for life.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

September 6th, 2001, 6:02 pm #15

I'm bringing this up in honor of Zep's decision to call himself by his real name, John.

It's interesting that "Zep" was actually John's "quitting name" (I didn't know that ) and I think that what he has done is strongly symbolic and important. John now thinks of himself not as a quitter, but as a non-smoker, and throwing away his "quitting name" is a symbolic act in finally throwing off the shackles of his past smoking life. Not, of course, forgetting that past or forgetting that he is an addict, but being absolutely self-confident and comfortable in maintaining his non-smoking life.

I believe that how we think of ourselves is how we will be, and what we call ourselves in our minds is indicative of how we will behave. When we think of ourselves as quitters, it means we are concentrating our mental energy on the process of quitting. When we think of ourselves as ex-smokers, there is a fear in our minds of reverting to our previous smoking life. When we think of ourselves as non-smokers, our new life has become the dominant and natural force in our futures.

Zep the quitter has gone. John the non-smoker has arrived in all his glory, enjoying a life of total non-smoking comfort, and acting as a beacon for all of us at Freedom. Thanks John.

Marty
NOT A PUFF FOR 9 months 6 days : 5034 cigs not smoked : 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours added to my life
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

September 6th, 2001, 8:12 pm #16

I AM A VERY PROUD EX-SMOKER!

Marty, Marty, Marty! I do thank you for thinking about me and I must say that you appear to get most of these right but I'm afraid you pretty much got this one almost ALL wrong! LOLOL Anyway, I hope it doesn't hurt your confidence but I must set the record straight as you're expressing opinions on how I see me

You said, "John now thinks of himself not as a quitter, but as a non-smoker." WRONG!!! I've previously posted twice to this thread (at message 5 and 12) and both times proudly proclaimed that I see myself as an ex-smoker and NOT a non-smoker and to me it's a very very very big distinction.

Most of the world may look at me as a non-smoker, I call myself a non-smoker in the pre-Joel articles here at Freedom, and I do ask to be seated in the non-smoking section of all restaurants but as I said in post 12 above,
" My name is Zep and I'm an X-smoker!
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX "
This is message 5 above,

"Before Joel had a little talk with me I really did consider myself a nonsmoker. I had made up my mind! I didn't need being taught otherwise! I took the news pretty hard. I was mad at Joel for a couple of days. How dare he spoil my vision of myself But it made so much sense that I decided to be honest. I'm an ex-smoker and dang proud of it!"

As Joel says above, Marty, "ex-smoker may not sound perfect" but this article and his comments convinced me that it is the phrase that most accurately describes who I'll be until the day I cease to be. In my mind, seeing myself as a true non-smoker is akin to Madonna singing a song about being a virgin!

You see, I did call myself a non-smoker before meeting Joel and in that I was putting forth the energy and determination necessary to quit I wanted to be "normal" and fit back into society like all the other boys and girls. But, Joel taught me that there was one big difference between me and all the Never-Smokers in the world - they didn't have to worry about RELAPSE! The Never-Smokers could take a puff of nicotine! The Never-smokers could smoke cigarettes and possibly smoke entire packs or maybe even whole cartons without becoming addicted and without experiencing relapse. Not so for me!

In my mind, the very first day that my nicotine feedings were no longer voluntary was the day I lost the ability to ever again stop and proclaim myself a non-smoker. I was addicted. It was then that my normal brain dopamine pathways were forever damaged and altered. Some addiction scientists are actually calling it a "disease" in that a nicotine addict's brain alterations are permanent.

No, in my mind being a true non-smoker is out of the question. I am and always will be a very very proud ex-smoker and by calling myself such I'll always remind myself that I'm just one puff away from three packs a day! It doesn't make my comfort any less and it only took a few days of being honest about who I am, before I started taking pride in the fact as well. You see, I've grown comfortable in learning to control what may be the most addictive drug on earth. If I do that, what limits are there on my potential in life?

As for Zep to John change and throwing off my past, Marty, I think you may be searching for your own "end" to this process and in doing so you're searching for a conclusion for others. But in all frankness, if there was a quit conclusion date or event for me it was the day I turned Gold but even then it was minor - just a counting thing, a self-perception.

Being online daily and sharing our quit with hundreds of smokers will obviously make us focus more and longer on smoking and quitting issues that if we were off fishing, gardening, riding our bike, shopping, cooking, traveling, meeting new people, going to school, working, sleeping, watching T.V. or engaging in other normal life's activities. But even being here online there comes a time when you're really here almost 99% to share in the glory of others and to assist them, if possible, in enjoying the same freedom and comfort that we've come to know. You're there already Marty, as most of our Bronze and beyond members are. A small fraction of your presence may be for self preservation but your primary motivation is to help others and you do a great job of it!

I like what Triin said yesterday upon turning Silver,

"I know I'm not here much anymore - I don't have the need anymore. But I promise to step in once in awhile, and share my experiences with the ones that need it, and also strengthen my resolve so that I don't become complacent. With LOVE Your Quit Sister, Triin."

She has spread her new wings and is out enjoying her freedom, yet she knows who she is and she knows where to come should she ever grow complacent. When I read it I was a bit jealous that she'd appeared to have grown more confident in her quit earlier than me, but then I don't know that to be true because, like you, I wanted to be here and this is where I come to enjoy my comfort and freedom!

For me, Marty, the last big issue was watching my quit stats counter approach One Year! Like I said, it wasn't major but in my mind it was extremely symbolic. Here this little counter was counting seconds, minutes, hours and days of my quit, would I continue to want to "count" for the remainder of my life? For some reason, it was a frightening thought. I wanted it to be over - I didn't want to keep counting but I didn't know what to expect.

Well happily - at one year the counting was over! No more! I no longer felt the need. Remember Robert as he approached a year and how he expressed his stats in parades. In every post he made I saw a bit of me. Oh I still dig out my stats counter every now and then and push the paste button in a daily parade but I rarely even look. Right now, without doing the calendar math, I couldn't tell you how may months it is and in all honesty, I fail to recognize almost every single month anniversary. It's just not something I think about and I doubt you will either Marty. At one year you'll no longer need to count and counting will probably become "history."

The big reason for using my real name, Cuthbert (LOL) is because it's taking to much of my time to explain to folks who this Zep character is, LOL. For the past couple of months I've been conducting my own little campaign here in South Carolina to help educate our youth and adults about the true power of nicotine. In doing so I often reference teachers, principles, political leaders, and newspaper editors to some aspect of WhyQuit.Com (education, motivation, support) only to later find myself answering the question - who is Zep I'm sure it also seems a bit strange to my clinic students who know me as John and come online only to encounter this Zep fella!

Anyway, thanks for thinking about me Marty! To sum it up, I'm John, my mother's son, and I'm a very comfortable ex-smoker and I'm here because I enjoy watching others taste the freedom and comfort that I all but take for granted.
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,
YQB John
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

September 7th, 2001, 3:04 am #17

Awwww shucks John. You know how much I like a bit of symbolism. I'll just have to go and find some elsewhere
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:59 pm

June 9th, 2002, 2:30 am #18

Isn't it amazing how "society" has deemed smoking to be an acceptable practise... and spawned a vocabulary to differentiate "smokers" from "non-smokers".

You don't tend to hear the same differentiated labels for other life threatening / anti-social activities. I wonder if this always be the case for smoking - or if times are a changing down the road...

-richard
  • a non-smoker (ex)
  • non-pothead
  • non-heroin addict
  • non-murderer
  • non-adulterer
  • non-nose picker (ex)
  • non-Yankees fan
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

September 19th, 2002, 6:00 am #19

I saw where some people were first realizing the concept that they were always going to be addicts. Bottom line is still that it is better to be a person in recovery from and addiction than it is to be a addict actively using--especially in the case of a drug that has a 50% mortality rate associated with regular using and even those who it does not eventually kill, it very likely is causing impairments and quite possibly crippling effects. Not to mention it will cost you a small fortune, make you smell foul and turn you into a social outcast in many circles. Yes being a recovering addict may not sound perfect but it is a whole lot better than being an active smoker. To stay in recovery is as simple now as knowing to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

September 14th, 2003, 9:22 am #20

You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can even call me Clean but I'll call me Me. I've waited a long long long time to be "Me" again and no one can take it from me now - not you, not anyone. I only have one rule ... I can't allow any nicotine to get inside my body today! If I obey this one rule my healing is 100% guaranteed. I'm coming home. I'm going to know me again and no force on earth can stop me.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

April 17th, 2004, 7:00 am #21

Ex vs. Non

I recall that the thought of not calling myself a non-smoker went against the grain the first time I read this Joel letter but then it slowly bit into me that a big part of my insurance against relapse was in always remembering where I came from and that I'm different from the never-smoker. Some of the lessons here may seem to go against the smoker's dreams but I think you'll find that they're all pretty much consistent staying a comfortable ex-smoker for life! Only one rule, no nicotine today! John
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

July 21st, 2004, 9:13 am #22

Ex-smoker or Non-smoker?

Which term might just remind us that the key to releasing our now arrested dependency is just one powerful puff of what may be the most captiviting chemical on earth - nonsmoker or ex-smoker? Let's be proud of who we are and of the amazing temporary journey of re-adjustment that each of us have made or is making. Only one rule to staying on this side of the bars ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff! John (Gold x5)
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

December 22nd, 2004, 12:20 pm #23

The Newbie - Goldie Bond
One of the most amazing things about recovery is that no matter how far we travel or how deep and enduring the mental quit, calm and comfort become our arrested dependency has traveled with us and is always just one puff away from resuming control over each and every day.
Although we probably wish we could wash our brain and permanently remove all stains of nicotine dependency it simply cannot be done. We have arrested a chemical need not killed it, broken conditioned feeding cues but the beaten paths remain, and possibly already have started finding comfort beyond slowly fading dependency thoughts and memories without destroying even one.
What we call ourselves isn't nearly as important as remembering just how fragile our healing is. Whether our newest newbie or goldest goldie we stand side by side in all being just one powerful puff of nicotine away from relapse into self-destructive chemical bondage back to our old level of nicotine intake but often higher.
No matter where we are in this amazing temporary journey of re-adjustment there will always be only one rule determining our fatel, no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff! John (Gold x5)
Last edited by John (Gold) on March 25th, 2009, 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 19th, 2008, 12:01 am

December 22nd, 2004, 12:43 pm #24

Gee John. I think your post deserves a thread of its own.....very poignant and full of powerful imagery. I've had a real rough day today and for some reason your post calmed me down a bit. Even semi-oldbies can have a rough day from time to time. Thank goodness for the education I've received here. NTAP and tomorrow will be better. By the way, I don't care what I'm called or what I call myself as long as I'm not called a smoker anymore. Steve 7 months, 9 days.
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Joined: December 18th, 2008, 11:57 pm

January 8th, 2005, 1:08 am #25


The Law of Addiction
Administration of a drug to an addict will cause reestablishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.
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