Commentary

February 21, 2014

Quitting smoking only way to go

Every morning started the same way. After coughing up phlegm from smoking the day prior, I’d brush my teeth, do my hair, put on my uniform and have a cigarette. And every time I did this, I’d ask myself why I did this and what was so wonderful about it. It wasn’t that it tasted great, and it definitely wasn’t because it smelled great, it was because I was addicted.

My smoking career began in college. Yes, I was taught in school and saw in commercials that it was bad, caused cancer and so on, but I thought, “I’ll never be a statistic.” Or, “I’ll never be addicted.”

Fast-forward to a year later, and I found myself unable to go a few hours, let alone a day, without a cigarette. At first it didn’t bother me that I was a smoker since I didn’t see any physical changes in my outward appearance. But I knew I was doing damage internally when I began coughing up phlegm, but I still chose to smoke.

Then one morning I remember seeing a yellowish stain appear on the right corner of my lower set of teeth. It freaked me out since I’m very particular about my teeth. From that moment on I tried everything from teeth whiteners to brushing my teeth more often, but I knew the only way to stop my teeth from staining, and eventually rotting, was to quit smoking altogether.

Smokers don’t like to admit it, but they are afraid to quit. I know I was. A nonsmoker would say, “Why would you be scared to quit something that can kill you?” I was scared because I had a preconceived notion that my life without a cigarette would be empty. I thought to myself, “What will I do during my breaks, when I’m bored, when I’m driving and when I’m sad?” The list goes on and on. Long story short, I found my answer in a book titled, “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr.

Yes, I won the battle with cigarettes through reading a book; it was as simple as that. Prior to this I had tried replacing cigarettes with candy, chewing on toothpicks, cutting down and even tried the electronic cigarette, but none of these methods worked for me.

Like the reviewer I am, I made sure to do my research before making my purchase. The ratings were unbelievable. The book had an average five-star rating with people from all over the world saying how easy it was to quit. I thought, “What have I got to lose?” The book cost a little more than what I would have paid for a pack of American Spirits.

I read the book quickly and absorbed it in a little more than a week. Once I finished it, I called my mom and told her I was a nonsmoker.

I had tried quitting before, but this time it was different. The most drastic change was that I “wanted” to quit smoking, and I really didn’t have the desire to have a cigarette. My mind wasn’t obsessively thinking about how I’m going to make it through the next few days but was questioning, “Why didn’t I read this book earlier?” In fact, it reset my mind back to how it was when I was a nonsmoker.

The book covers how life was before smoking and how one didn’t crave a cigarette. It helped me realize that I was perfectly content and happy with my life prior to smoking, and I could be like that again.

Today, I have friends who smoke and some who don’t. Being around smokers doesn’t make me “crave” a cigarette or “envy” the smoker as the book talks about. It makes me think, “Why did I spend more than four years of my life doing this?”

Oh, and let me talk about the changes in my health.

I don’t cough up phlegm anymore, and my teeth are back to their original state with no more yellow tinges. My smile is bright white. Even the dentist complimented me on how healthy and white my teeth are.

The second-best part is the money savings. At the most I spent an average of $35 to $40 a week on cigarettes back when I was smoking Camels at around $5 per pack. I calculated I’ve spent more than $7,000 on smoking since I started. If I was still a smoker I would’ve added at least another $2,880 to that amount.

If I can do it, I believe anyone can, and for me, it was easy. I’m proud to say it’s been a year and a half since I quit. Since then, I’ve passed the book on to a friend who also quit smoking and told me he did it just like I did.

As an ex-smoker I do not have the desire to partake in any form of smoking. The book covers how smoking cigars, e-cigarettes and hookah can be triggers to start smoking again. Just like how an ex-alcoholic shouldn’t have any amount of alcohol, an ex-smoker shouldn’t even have one drag, because that one drag can soon turn into a full-blown addiction.

It’s funny how today my smoking friends look at me with awe as if something magical happened to me, and they say they wish they could quit too. They tell me their stories of trying to quit and how they end up falling back to it. I tell them to read the book, and it will change their lives.

The only regret I have is starting to smoke in the first place and not reading the book sooner. One thing I learned from quitting is that only you can take the first steps to finding a method to quit that works for you.




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