Commentary

November 9, 2012

Book takes Airman on journey to quit smoking

Every year there are people who begin smoking despite the fact that it is a leading cause of cancer and premature death in the U.S. and many countries in the world.

For this reason the American Cancer Society is marking its 37th Great American Smokeout Thursday by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit or to quit smoking that day.

There are options available for those who wish to stop smoking. Some quit by using the nicotine patch or gum, go cold turkey, see a hypnotist or replace the nicotine addiction with another habit. Unlike these examples, I chose a different path.

Before I smoked I was that person telling smokers that it was bad for them and made them smell. But little did I know, one day I’d become one of them.

My smoking addiction began almost five years ago. I was a freshman in college and one day joined in with a group of my friends who smoked. I remember the first drag vividly – it didn’t seem bad since it was a minty tasting menthol cigarette.

A few months later, I began smoking socially and never felt a need or desire to have a cigarette when I was alone. But after a very stressful time in my life, I began smoking every day and became addicted.

It was strange because no matter how much knowledge I had about smoking and how bad it was for me, I just couldn’t see it or hear it. I thought, “Well I’m young; nothing is going to happen to me.”

Eventually, I brainwashed myself into thinking it was OK but found myself saying, “When I’m 21, I’ll quit.” Well, I turned 21, then 22 and realized 23 was coming, and I was still smoking. It just seemed like whenever my quit date came along, fear struck me that I couldn’t do it or that I’d be lost without my cigarette. It sounds silly, but that’s how I felt since I had become so accustomed to smoking throughout the day.

Then one day, the answer to quitting smoking was handed to me at a book store. I was there to buy a self-help book but instead found a book that would not only help me but save me.

The title is The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. I recalled seeing a YouTube video of Ashton Kutcher saying how easy it was to stop. As I mulled over the idea of quitting, the fear struck again. I couldn’t shake the thought that even if I succeeded and quit, I’d still miss smoking forever.

After talking to myself for a few minutes, I bought the book. What won me over was the fact that I could smoke while reading the book and decide after finishing it. I started reading immediately. People gave me funny looks when I sat outside smoking while reading a book about quitting smoking.

I liked the book because the author wasn’t a doctor who never smoked a day in his life telling me how I should quit. I really could relate to everything he talked about and even had a few laughs.

At first I was skeptical, but as I began to read the book I found myself wanting to quit. When I finished the book, I called my mom and told her I was quitting that day, and then I threw away my last brand new pack of cigarettes. The next morning I was a nonsmoker, and I didn’t have any fears, cravings or withdrawals. And the best thing about the book was I didn’t need willpower. It was truly that easy for me.

There were several reasons why it was so easy for me to stop after reading the book. To start, Carr highlighted the positives about quitting. He also made me analyze how I felt while I was smoking. I realized that other than the momentary nicotine high, smoking wasn’t really enjoyable. I had actually never enjoyed the taste, and toward the end of my smoking career I couldn’t smoke without a mint in my mouth.

But what gave me the courage to stop was that Carr answered every one of my fears prior to quitting, which helped me see that I wasn’t the only one who was a victim to what Carr refers to as “brainwashing” or smoking myths.

One such myth is that smokers need a cigarette because they are stressed, but then they also need a cigarette after a nice meal or get together. But Carr said that even after having a cigarette during a stressful time the problems are still there and the cigarette didn’t make things any better. All these things helped me realize that I am not doomed to be a smoker for life, but that I was just another victim of the brainwashing.

I’ve been smoke-free for more than three months now and have no desire to use any tobacco product. In fact, my only regret is not reading the book sooner.

To commemorate GASO, the 56th Force Support Squadron Health and Wellness Center will be initiating a program called “Adopt a Smoker.” The idea is for smokers to adopt friends, family members, roommates or coworkers to help keep them accountable, so they quit for a day. To participate, one must commit by signing the adoption paperwork and turning it in by today at the HAWC. The paperwork can be picked up at the HAWC or from Sunny Hayes by email.

For more information, call Hayes at (623) 856-7531 or email at sunny.hayes@us.af.mil.




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