How to Quit Smoking With the Help of Unlit Cigarettes and Pop Culture

I’ve hardly left my room in three days, and I’m beginning to smell the poison making its way out my pours. Both sweat and snot drip from my face like a leaky faucet as I manically perform one ab crunch after another, eyes half shut and breath heaving. Cigarettes are strategically placed around the room, some in packs like a collage of pop art, others scattered about individually like bleached finger bones. There is nowhere to look that doesn’t contain a cigarette. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

It’s dark despite the noon hour, the only light coming from my video projector, playing an episode of Mad Men across one wall. Don Draper is savoring one beautiful cigarette after another. The pleasure centers of my brain light up like a teenage boy watching pornography. “You are free to be a smoker,” says a firm British voice coming from my stereo.

Josia Hesse and his record collection