One Cigarette Won't Kill You or Will it?

Are you a former smoker?

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One man's journey to quit smoking. The best way to quit is to not start at all!

The year was 1974 and a pack of cigarettes in New York was about 35 cents. Smoking was not only considered cool by young kids, it was the norm. It was what you did if you wanted to fit in. Every kid in the neighborhood smoked and why not, all of our parents smoked. So did our roles models, favorite athletes, teachers, priests and even our doctors!

Like most 12 year olds, I was impressionable and followed the rest of the gang. My buddy Scott and I would go down to the corner store and buy a pack of Parliaments and then make our way to the school yard to smoke. Imagine that, 2 young kids buying smokes with no problems. Back then there was no age requirement and we never realized just how dangerous cigarettes were for our bodies. As it turns out the Surgeon General was already placing warning labels on cigarette packs in the United States which started on 1966. But who read labels back then?

In 1966 the labels simply stated that “Smoking may be hazardous to your health”. It was not until 1970 that the warning was revised with stronger language advising that “The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health”. By 1974 these labels did little for me and my friends and possibly the nation as a whole!

Back in those days everyone smoked and they smoked everywhere. People were smoking on trains, in restaurants and even in the movie theatre -last ten rows please! It would be interesting to see people’s reaction back then if they were told that smoking would eventually be prohibited in all of these places in the future.

I continued smoking as the years rolled on. Little by little we as a society were slowly indoctrinated as to the harmful effects of smoking. Unfortunately for most of us it may have been too late. At 22 years of age I had already been smoking for a decade and it was part of my life albeit a part that might eventually end it! I had no intention of quitting now.

Eventually I met my future wife, a non-smoker, and like many smokers before me I made the hollow promises to quit smoking. The months and years rolled by and I continued to smoke and make promises. I promised not to smoke in the car but I did – I did crack the window! I promised not to smoke in front of her parents but I did – I did go in the back yard!

Married at age 24, I finally made the most solemn promise to my new bride that I would definitely quit smoking when she got pregnant with our first child. Little did we know that I would have another 7 years before I would have to live up to that promise!

Fast forward, the year is now 1992 and I am 30 years old having just received the exciting news that we had a baby on the way! Panic slowly sets in as I come to the realization that I may actually have to give up my one and only vice. No cigarettes? What does one do while drinking coffee or socializing with friends? This was going to be perhaps one of the most difficult challenges of my life but I was determined to hold up my end of the bargain!

For several days I thought about my dilemma. How could I give up one love for another? How would I attack this problem? Finally after much thought and reflection I accepted the fact that I was addicted to cigarettes and the only way I could quit smoking was cold-turkey. Yes cold-turkey, it had to be done, there was no other way as I simply did not have the will power.

And so it began- day 1. I literally threw away a couple of unopened packs of cigarettes; I even tossed my lighters- except my gold plated Zippo! I read up a lot of what to expect so I thought I was ready. I changed my morning routine, chewed a lot of gum and drank a lot of water - all to no avail. The withdrawal process was slow and painful. I was irritable and short tempered, after a couple of days it got so bad that my friends and family were actually telling me to have a cigarette!

I had to stay strong, I could do this!!! I found myself very sleepy during the day which was somewhat helpful since I was not craving cigarettes while I slept. Little by little it got easier and easier. One week turned into two and then three! People were starting to tell me they were proud of me which gave me even more motivation! Finally weeks turned into months and I was convinced that I kicked the habit!

Fast forward (again); it has now been twenty years since I had my last cigarette- not even one! Many friends and family have also quit over the years. The weird thing is occasionally I will still have a craving when I get a whiff of tobacco. I guess one is never totally cured. I am now 50 years old and feeling relatively healthy- except for my diabetes diagnosis but that is another story!

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Comments 11 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

Congrats on quitting Kevin. I love your hub and how you tell your personal story and I totally identify with it all. I smoked through two pregnancies and now cringe to think of the second hand smoke I inflicted on my husband( a non smoker) and my two children when they were young. Voting up and awesome.


KevinC9998 profile image

KevinC9998 4 years ago Author

Thanks Robie2, I enjoyed your hub as well! Thanks for stopping by and for your vote, Kevin


Lela Bryan profile image

Lela Bryan 4 years ago from Alameda, CA

I enjoyed your hub!


daskittlez69 profile image

daskittlez69 4 years ago from midwest

It is a hard habit to break. Thanks for the Hub. Here is your Up and Useful!


Shahid Abro 4 years ago

Diabetes story mentioned is I think a quip. What was the need? Spoiled everything.


CBrucale profile image

CBrucale 4 years ago from CT, USA

Kevin, I feel your pain. My husband and I have been cigarette free for over 5 years now. It is a very difficult habit to break (some say harder than heroin). Well done for staying smoke free for 20 years. Good luck with your other health issues and thanks for sharing. Christine


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

I have not come to the point of quiting yet, I must admit that I do enjoy smoking.It's funny how intelligent, grown people can and do abuse themselves with things that they know are not good for them. Congrats on your success, maybe one day I may make the same claim.


WriteAngled profile image

WriteAngled 3 years ago from Treorci, Cymru

I stopped smoking the day my partner died, early June 2010. We had been on about 40 a day each. I got home from the hospital, smoked the last cigarette that was lying on the table, and have not had another since. I found it easy now that I was no longer in the company of another smoker. The odd time when I vaguely thought about buying a pack again, I let my inner miser out of his cage. With prices what they are in the UK now, no way am I going to spend that much ever again!


KevinC9998 profile image

KevinC9998 3 years ago Author

Hi WriteAngled: Glad you joined the club of non-smokers! You are absolutely right about the prices these days. Thanks for stopping by, Kevin.


Kapil 3 years ago

5 Pack Years....and sudden abrupt quit.....a little help from nicorette....and i`m clean out.......1 months without a smoke....hope i continue...


KevinC9998 profile image

KevinC9998 3 years ago Author

@Kapil: This is great news- and yes you CAN do it! Stay strong, the hardest part is over. Kevin

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