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You Can Quit Smoking - The First Time

When I was a kid 60 years ago everyone smoked.

My Dad smoked, my Mom smoked, everyone I knew smoked. It was no wonder I smoked from the age of 11 years when I became brave enough to sneak tailor-mades from Mom's purse.

All the kids in my group smoked except that they were braver or sneakier and seemed to be able to steal whole packets. The largest packets held only 20 in those days.

By the time I was 19 years old I was smoking a little less than 60 each day. I had cigarettes hoarded everywhere: in the car because the first thing I did when I sat in the car was to light a cigarette,in the drawers of my two office desks at work, in my golf bag, on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, in my bedroom, and in my workshop. I was never going to be without a cigarette.

We did not know much about cancer and other diseases caused by cigarette smoking and I am not sure it would have mattered if we did.

And as a heavy smoker I did not really enjoy smoking. I smelled atrociously, had bad breath, sore throat, breathlessness, and a dry hacking cough. Who could enjoy all that? Nobody could!

Yet the withdrawal symptoms of the addiction were worse, so I continued to puff away.

One day I caught the flu and felt so terrible I decided that I would lay off the cigarettes for three days just to give the body a rest. I never meant to quit for good (heaven forbid). But the three days extended to six months. I cannot remember my being overly irritable but my wife can! For every minute of that six months I felt a craving for a cigarette. I was in public life then and attended many meetings and conferences and felt very lucky indeed if I were seated down-wind from a smoker.

However, after six months the craving diminished somewhat and by then I had stopped coughing up brown phlegm as my lungs cleared themselves of the toxins. So it should have become easier to continue smoke-free.

Why did I fall off the wagon? I can remember it clearly even after 30 years. I was playing early morning golf by myself and looked into a pocket I hadn't opened for a while and lo and behold there was a three-quarter full packet of cigarettes. They were dry and dusty and a little crushed and did not look very appetizing.

I thought: "These are going to be a temptation I should get rid of them, what better way of getting rid of them but to smoke them". The first one was terrible it made me feel sick and nauseous but they gradually got better and by the end of the round I was hooked.

You can call me a fool! You can call me an idiot! There's nothing you can call me that I haven't called myself worse. My only consolation is that my own doctor did the same thing. He gave up for six months and started smoking again, but that was no help to me.

The moral to the story is that it is possible to quit smoking and in these modern times there are aids which help but it still isn't easy. Persistence pays. Forgive yourself for failures and start again.

As one of the old cigarette commercials used to say: "You've got nothing to lose but your smokers cough".

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