In my formative years, most everyone around me smoked: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, doctors and more. Those were the days when it seemed like a rite of passage to become a smoker certifying one as“adult” when old enough to smoke.
In my early teens I began sneaking cigarettes and buying them when I could get away with it. The strongest influence was “hanging out” with peers where puffing away was part of the culture. Curiously though, smoking did not completely invade my life until I was long out of high school. Once the habit had me, it REALLY had me. Clear in memory is a few times when I had no money and picked out the longest butts from my ashtray to smoke. Looking back now that seems pitiful.
My habit took hold in the 70’s when the message printed on the packs became “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health”. I ignored it for a while with my youthful bullet proof attitude. Then came the advertising campaigns about the adverse effects of cigarettes. By then there was no doubt within I was doing something harmful to me.
My young wife said we should stop smoking when we were in our mid-20’s. I was impressed when she put them down and stopped cold turkey. Always thinking I could accomplish just about anything, it was degrading to discover the smoking habit beat me again and again. I became like Mark Twain who in the 1800’s wrote “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times”.
When my son was around 4 years old he used to get my cigarettes and throw them in the trash when I was not looking. When I would get onto him he would tell me “Daddy, Cigarettes are bad. I don’t want you to die”. That hurt, but my attempts at quitting remained unsuccessful. I made it two weeks once with help from nicotine patches back when a doc had to prescribe them. Then came advertisements on TV for a prescription drug called Zyban. I tried that also but in hind sight believe I was looking for a short cut without the proper commitment needed.
It was in the throws of a complete make-over of my life about four years ago I was finally successful in kicking cigarettes. Finally there was a real desire within to quit. That lead to a request of my doctor to prescribe what I believe to be a miracle drug called “Chantix”. I am thankful for those tiny little pills that were a great companion to the determination to stop I had finally mustered.
Looking back I realize it was disgust with the habit that finally motivated me. Things like the need to have cigs and a lighter with me at all times and feeling like a second class citizen in smoking zones in alley-ways, loading docks and nasty yellowed smoking sections in airports finally got to me. How sad I began to find those “designated areas” where smokers were concentrated smoking, hacking and coughing. If any smoker tells you they enjoy smoking, I believe they are lying! It’s just denial and justification.
If you smoke, I sincerely feel for you. I know how difficult that monkey on the back is to shake. Never will I be on your case about quitting. The only tip offered is the lack of knowledge of how badly I smelled when my habit was a pack-a-day. Now I realize that no amount of hand washing, cologne or breath mints hides the habit. I lived in the delusion that I was fooling people for many years. I know better now as I can smell all but light smokers from 10 feet away.
The following is taken from “No Smoking” by Shane P. Ward who quit after 28 years.
Was it hard to stop? You betchya! Every single day.
Some minutes seemed like hours till the craving went away.
I conjured up so many good excuses to give in.
But I was so determined that tobacco would not win.
The first day was the worst until the second day came.
The third day was the worst and then the fourth was much the same.
The fifth day? That was not so bad but bad enough to bear
But then I felt the sixth day I had got it beat. So there!
Telling you to stop is not what I would like to do.
The reason that I quit was choice. The same is up to you.
To quit is hard, I don’t deny it. Really it’s no joke.
But if you can withstand the strain, you’ll not return to smoke.
And finally a warning – and I say this in good heart.
If you have never ever smoked – then never ever start.
If you think that it’s cool to smoke then just try stopping it.
You’ll find it’s easier not to start, than smoking is to quit.
My gratitude is deep to be cigarette free having last ‘burned one’ on October 26, 2007. That was such a momentous day I will never forget the date. Firmly entrenched in my mind is the knowing I am only one cigarette from being hooked again. I know I can never have another one as long as I live.
Don’t get discouraged; it’s usually the last key in the bunch that opens the lock. Unknown