written on my first anniversary of freedom from smoking and originally posted on november 19, 2002, this tale explains how to get into one of the most exclusive clubs on the planet: the 1/2-percent of nicotine addicts who become successful long-term quitters.

the half-percent club

2009 February 21

over 46,500,000 (that's 46.5 million) americans smoke.*

the half-percent club isn't like other clubs: nobody nominates you for membership; you nominate yourself. nobody votes on whether you can or cannot become a member; your vote is the only one that counts.

of those, 70% (or 32,550,000) say they want to quit.*

of those, 34% (or 11,067,000) attempt to quit each year.*

of those, 2.5% (or 276,675) succeed.*

that's about one-half of one percent of the total number of american smokers.

the half-percent club.

* (these statistics are taken from the american lung association publication, "TRENDS IN TOBACCO USE", published in june of 2002. since i don't have similar statistics for any other country, i'm going to assume that the percentages are about the same; people are people, wherever they live, and nicotine is nicotine, no matter who's addicted to it...)

the half-percent club has no meetings; it has no meeting halls.

it has no officers; no president, no secretary, no treasurer.

it doesn't march in parades, organize food, clothing or fund drives, hold garage sales or have bingo on wednesdays.

but it does have dues.

and if you want to be a member, you have to pay your dues.

it doesn't matter who you know, doesn't matter what you know, doesn't matter if you're from the right family, doesn't matter if you went to the right school, doesn't matter if you're from the right side of the tracks, doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, doesn't matter if your skin is the right color, doesn't matter what religion you follow (or even if you follow any at all), doesn't matter what your political opinions are.

the only thing that matters is that you pay your dues.

because the half-percent club isn't like other clubs: nobody nominates you for membership; you nominate yourself. nobody votes on whether you can or cannot become a member; your vote is the only one that counts. you elect yourself.

as long as you pay your dues.

as long as you never take that first puff; as long as you're clean, you're a card-carrying, paid-in-full member. and nobody can vote you out, or even ask you to leave; once you've paid your dues, the only way to lose your membership is to take it away from yourself by taking that first puff.

9 responses leave one →
  1. 2004 August 23
    Marvel permalink

    I love this, and I love being in this club. And I'm proud!

  2. 2004 October 23
    Fightn4life permalink

    I'm in...now that I have been free from nicotine for 12 months I decided to join "the half-percent club"

    I'll never take another puff...my choice everyday...one day at a time.


  3. 2005 January 12
    Mindy permalink

    I'm in the half percent club too!

  4. 2005 May 28
    Kerry permalink

    I just read this and loved this. It's a great thing to refer people to who are thinking of giving up the quit or for those who have "slipped". I am definitely a part of this club.

  5. 2009 February 21

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  6. 2010 June 3
    Alexandra permalink

    I have been quit five months and will never smoke again so can I join and be a half percenter.

  7. 2010 June 3
    David permalink

    Is this a club for ex smokers who never blipped never had a single puff not even a drag whilst they were quitting ...if so i am in

  8. 2015 February 9
    richard permalink

    this is another excellent article - and thank you for them - which triggers the thought there should be an actual card, the size of a credit card, that can be carried in the wallet. I phrase it the way i have as i'm not yet eligible for it. I've done, or am today doing 52 days, and i look forward to being a member of this club. I will make and carry such a card at that time unless there a a generic one we can share & use - i would look to design & share one but i've not the computer skills to do such online.

  9. 2016 December 8
    richard permalink

    fyi Kevin - 718 days since my last cigarette. And your site is one of 2 or 3 that was very helpful. Thank you for it.

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