Tag Archives: quit smoking

Recalling a personal triumph

I admit to watching too much TV. It’s on in our study and I kinda listen to the “white noise” it churns out.

But a recurring set of commercials makes me think back to one of my most glorious victories. They are the commercials that pitch methods for people to use to quit smoking. Chantix, Nicoderm, other prescription drugs . . . you name it. Folks get on the air and give these glowing testimonials to all those aids they use to quit smoking.

I once was a relentless smoker. I lit up about two packs of cigarettes daily. At today’s prices, I would burn through about $15 each day, pun intended.

Then in early February 1980, I got sick. I came down with a cold. Raspy throat, snotty nose, cough. It all hit me.

I reached for a pack of smokes. I lit one of ’em and then took a drag off the cigarette. The smoke reached about halfway down my throat. Then I started coughing, hacking. I damn near puked!

I snuffed the cigarette out. I then grabbed the pack from which I took it, crumpled it up and tossed it into the trash can. My thought at the time as I remember it was: What in the hell am I doing to myself?

That was on Feb. 2, 1980. Nearly 39 years ago! I quit cold turkey. I required no prescription drugs. No nicotine-flavored chewing gum. No patches behind my ear or on my upper arm.

I mention this as a “life experience” entry on this blog, because I want to declare that if I can quit a nasty habit that I actually enjoyed while I was in its grasp, then anyone can do it. I was hooked, man!

I began smoking when I was around 15. I quit smoking just a few weeks after my 30th birthday. Therefore, I had smoked cigarettes for roughly half my life when I decided in the moment that I was done with it.

I have become a fairly militant anti-smoker in the years since then. I used to refer to myself as a “former smoker.” Now it’s “non-smoker.” I’ve been known to declare my non-smoker status with some emphasis.

I mention all this because of those TV spots that offer up all kinds of expensive remedies to rid yourself of a habit that can kill you. Yes, I know we all aren’t wired the same. Some folks need help to do the obvious. I thought I did, too.

Then I choked on the smoke and called it quits. Even after all these years, it remains one of my proudest personal triumphs.

Quitting smoking? No sweat! Really!

We’ve entered the Season of Resolutions.

Many of us resolve to do certain things, or not do certain things, depending on the nature of the resolutions we make.

I want to tell you about something I did 38 years ago and how it might play in today’s climate of medical disclaimers and equivocations.

I keep hearing commercials for quit-smoking aids. One of them, Chantix, is particularly interesting to me. The voice-over tells the viewer that the prescription drug carries many potential side effects. Those who use this drug to quit smoking may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that include “change of mood” or “thoughts of suicide” or “actions” relating to suicide.

I hear these disclaimers and think: Do I want to take a drug that might make me want to kill myself?

Thirty-eight years ago — it was on Feb. 2, 1980, to be precise — I quit smoking.

Cold turkey! Just like that! I took a drag on a cigarette, damn near choked on it and then tossed it and the pack from where it came into the garbage. I was done. Over. Finished.

The truth is I was a heavy smoker: about two packs daily. Remember, that was an era when cigarettes cost a whole less than they do today. I recently saw a guy spend more than $70 on a carton of smokes. Sheesh, dude! I’m trying to figure the logic in spending something you light with a match and burn to ashes.

I had developed a nagging cough. My wife was imploring me to quit. So … I did what I normally do: I followed my wife’s instructions.

I got through the withdrawal pangs immediately after tossing the weeds into the trash. I don’t recall any suicidal thoughts, let alone taking any action in that regard.

Over the years I have told others who say they “intend” to quit smoking after they finish the pack they’ve just opened that such intent won’t get the job done. I, too, intended many times to quit before I finally did.

I realized that one’s intention to quit smoking means as much as the sign that at the bar that declares “Drinks are on the house … tomorrow.”

For several years after quitting the nasty habit I was inclined to describe myself as a “former smoker.” No longer. For many years I have been a dedicated non-smoker.

I did it without quit-smoking aids that might lead to suicide. I guess I realized the habit I was quitting would kill me just as dead.