Commentary

July 18, 2013

Find a reason to quit

Commentary by Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — I smoked my first cigarette on a random day during technical training, and I admit to my own dismay, it was completely because of peer pressure.

Months later when the ritual became less of a bonding experience with my friends and more of a habit, I was confronted with the reality of my secretive existence–I was a smoker. I knew it was bad, everybody knows that. That isn’t the issue. The issue of being a continued smoker is having difficulty finding a reason to quit.

Some numbers: More than 440,000 Americans lose their lives to smoking-related diseases each year. That’s 1,200 people a day. That’s an unacceptable amount of lives being lost. Think about it, if it were something else, like a brand of food killing that many people, it would be pulled from the market.

Smoking is allowed because we all allow it as a society and those numbers mean nothing to smokers because it doesn’t directly affect them, yet. But, I guarantee most smokers know that what they are doing might kill them some day. So why smoke?

That simple question is exactly what got me to quit. Somebody I respect, who I knew would throw a fit if she found out about my filthy habit, calmly asked me that exact question. Why? I was at a loss for finding a reason to quit, but she challenged me to find a reason to smoke in the first place.

Smoking isn’t beneficial in any way to any person. It only harms. So why smoke? I was just being lazy; continuing a habit out of boredom.

The best advice my father ever gave me was, “If you’re bored, it’s because you haven’t any goals.”

What I mean by that is if you can’t find a reason to quit smoking, you aren’t going out of your way to improve yourself as a person.

I took a quick turn to physical training as a distraction from smoking. I went to the gym three days in a row, taking to the sauna to sweat out all the nicotine per a suggestion I saw online, and I now use the free time I would have filled with smoking to work out instead. Now, instead of spending money on cigarettes, I buy protein powder. The protein does cost a little more, but it also helps to enhance my combat readiness–whereas smoking is only a crutch.

Smokers don’t need to be motivated to quit smoking by the terrifying numbers of death and cost surrounding their enslavement to tobacco, they need to find an inner motivation to quit what they already know to be a bad habit.

“You smoke?” My supervisor had asked me, “Why?”

“I don’t have any reason to quit.” I shrugged.

“Find one.”




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson)

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