Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An anniversary unremarked

Perhaps it's a good sign that I actually forgot to write this, but better late than never. Twenty years ago this month I made one of the best decisions of my life. I quit smoking.

I had become a smoker mostly because of the typically young adult lifestyle I was then leading. At some point I'd learned that you could get an extra jolt out of your beer buzz if you added a few smokes. Eventually I started smoking at times when I wasn't out socializing and by the time 1990 rolled around, I was smoking about a pack a day.

As it turned out, 1990 was a pretty eventful year. Mrs. D and I were on the path to marriage and I formally proposed to her at the beginning of August. Less than a month later, my dad passed away. Dad would fire up a cigar from time to time but wasn't a regular smoker, but his premature demise certainly got my attention.

At the time I quit, a pack of cigarettes would set you back about $1.50 to $1.75, depending on where you bought them. I usually got mine at the little neighborhood store a block from my apartment, so I typically paid a little more. It wasn't a huge expense but it was adding up and there wasn't much that I enjoyed about smoking. Mrs. D had said she would marry me if I were still a smoker, but that she wasn't crazy about the idea of having children breathing cigarette smoke. So it was time.

I decided to quit over a weekend and we arranged to get out of town. Smoking is a matter of habit in more ways than one and breaking the normal routine was key. The other key was making it difficult to light up the cigarette. Late that Friday night, I was having a cigarette on the back steps of the apartment building. A guy was walking down the alley and saw me. He asked me if I had a light.

I told him I did and tossed him my lighter. Then I told him to keep it. "I want to quit smoking, so I won't need this." The guy thanked me and went on his way. And that was that.

The weekend wasn't pleasant, since the withdrawal is unpleasant. But quitting cold turkey was the way to go. By the time the weekend was over, the cravings had subsided a bit. I had put the ashtrays away and I'd thrown away the last few cigarettes that had been in my pack. I got up on Monday morning and went to work a former smoker. And I haven't gone back to it.

I realize that for many people, quitting smoking is very difficult. But it can be done. And I think the most important thing you can do to quit smoking is to make it difficult to light a cigarette. If you have to make an effort to light up a smoke, you have enough time to fight off the urge. Don't carry a lighter and get rid of your matches. And most of all, don't stop trying to quit. You can do it.


Gino said...

i never saw smoking as a character flaw greater than any other, just a less politically correct one.

Mr. D said...

I agree, Gino. But it's not healthy and it's a really expensive way to potentially shorten your life, so I'm glad to be rid of the coffin nails.

Chuckwagon Boy said...

Congratulations, sir and way to stay strong!

W.B. Picklesworth said...

I'd still love to smoke a pipe or cigars, but I just can't pull it off. Smoking a little turns into smoking a lot and with a lovely wife several years my junior I can't afford that. I don't have a problem with people who do smoke, don't wrinkle my noise, or complain. Those folks who are self-righteous about the whole deal are the ones with the glaring character flaw.

But that's not you, Mr. D. You're just a man who doesn't have to light up today. Enjoy your freedom!

Right Hook said...

You actually quit without a government mandate or program? Wow!