Out on the town, you watch as your good friend Bill lights-up and sucks down a deliciously deep puff, and then lays the pack on the table between you. Cindy, your talkative co-worker, blows smoke your way while gloriously waving her cigarette like a conductorís baton. Arthur and Denise, two smoking strangers, gravitate toward one and other and engage in lite-hearted conversation while guarding a storeís entrance. While stopped at a light, a deep relaxing puff is inhaled by Ellen in the car beside you. "Oh but to again share in the joys of smoking," you think to yourself, "to puff, to taste, to blow, then relax." The joys of smoking? Joy? Joy?
Yesterday, Bill stepped in a pile of dog dung but failed to notice until he turned around and was puzzled by the strange brown tracks across his sky blue carpet that seemed to lead to his right shoe. Billís sniffer has been almost useless for over 20 years. A pack and a half a day smoker, he has experienced two cases of pneumonia over the past 3 winters, with the last one putting him in bed for 6 days. Struggling for each breath, Bill still managed to smoke a couple each day. His doctor has pleaded with him to quit but after a half dozen failed attempts, discouragement fills his mind.
Cindyís two teenage sons are onto her almost daily about her smoking. They canít walk anywhere as a family without her cigarette smoke finding the boys. When it does, they make her want to crawl into a hole as they both start coughing and gaging as if dying. When smoking, they never walk together, itís either ahead or behind for lonely mom. She dreads the seven hour drive to her parentís house next week, but she can no longer make excuses for visiting only once in 3 years. Cindy knows that theyíll pass three rest areas along the interstate but it will be difficult to fib about having to go to the bathroom at all three. Two will have to do.
The date for the trip arrives. She skips making breakfast to ensure that the boys will demand that they stop to eat along the way. Cindy shakes her head after coming back in from loading up the car. Not only does she have a cigarette in her hand, the ashtray on the table is smoking one too. Before leaving town she stops to fill up with gas while managing three quick puffs, as she feels far more secure after stuffing two new packs into her purse.
Arthur, a 54 year old two pack a day smoker, has large cell lung cancer in the right lobe. The slow growing tumor is now almost five months old and a little bigger than an orange. As he sits rolling coins to purchase his next 46 mg. of mandatory daily nicotine needed to stay inside the comfort zone, he does not yet know he has cancer. Although he has twice coughed up a small bit of bloody mucus, he quickly dismissed it both times. Frankly, he just doesnít want to know. There is a bit of chest pain but thatís nothing new, as chest tightness has occurred on and off for the past couple of years. Additional thick bloody mucus will soon scare Arthur into a doctor visit and a chest x-ray. The delay will cost him a lung. Over the next two years he will battle hard to save his life. In the end Arthur will lose. His fate is the same as what half of all smokers will experience - nicotine induced death.
A workaholic, Ellen has done very well financially. Her life seems to have everything except for companionship. A three pack-a-day smoker, she constantly smells like a walking tobacco factory and often turns heads and noses when walking into a room. A serious chain-smoker, she tells those around her that she enjoys her cigarettes. Deep down, she knows that she is a drug addict and believes that she just canít quit. Her car windows, house blinds and forehead continually share a common guest - a thin oily film of tar and other chemicals. Ellen has a date next Friday, a two pack-a-day smoker named Ed. They'll find comfort in sharing their addictions.
Denise started smoking at age 13 while her lungs were still developing. Constantly clearing her throat, month by month her breathing capacity continues to slowly deteriorate. Smoking lines and wrinkles above and below her lips have aged a once attractive face far quicker than its 32 years. Considered "cool" when she became hooked, the government recently banned smoking in all public buildings, her boss just posted a new non-smoking policy at work, and the headline in the local paper she is holding is about the city proposing a ban on smoking in the park across the street. Feeling like a hopelessly addicted social outcast, a single tear begins working its way down her cheek.
Fifteen pounds over weight to begin with, a year ago Denise successfully quit for almost 2 months by exchanging cigarettes for a new crutch called food. She threw in the towel when she had outgrown her entire wardrobe. Three months following relapse, and still depressed over her defeat, all the new weight remains with her. Already on high-blood pressure medication, she is about to become a regular user of anti-depressants.
The joy of smoking? Joy?
Fortunately for Denise, a caring friend will tell her about a free online nicotine cessation education and support forum called Freedom. There, Denise will dedicate herself toward understanding the core principles underlying her almost two decades of chemical dependency upon nicotine. She will successfully arrest her addiction, develop the patience and outlook needed to navigate her temporary period of adjustment called "quitting," reclaim her self-confidence, and develop the mental skills and healthy body needed to successfully tackle all of her unwanted pounds, just one pound at a time.
All that matter are the next few minutes and each is entirely doable. There will always be only one rule that 100% guarantees success for each of us - no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff!
Breathe deep, hug hard, live long!
John R. Polito
Nicotine Cessation Educator
WhyQuit's basic "how to quit smoking" video
|Knowledge is a Quitting Method!|