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Stories from Former Smokers

SUZY'S STORY

"I started smoking when I was 13..."

I started smoking when I was 13 or 14 years old from the pressure and desire to be "cool". I seriously became addicted to nicotine at 18 years old and was a pack a day smoker for 17 years. I never considered quitting even though my mother died from cancer and I knew the negative health effects from smoking. The addiction was that strong.

When I became pregnant everything changed. Once I found out all of the dangers to my child while pregnant I knew I had to quit. I have been smoke free for 60 days and will NOT start back even after I have the baby.

There are numerous benefits to being smoke free. Saving money, not feeling guilt or shame, taking pride in my accomplishment and knowing that my health improves every day are just some of the positives. By far the biggest benefit to quitting is knowing that I am helping my baby live a healthier life!

Suzy

The following stories are excerpts from stories posted on the About.com: Quit Smoking website.

ANNA'S STORY

"I am more committed to this quit then ever before!"

I have tried many times over the last few years to kick this addiction once and for all, but somehow, I always managed to be lured back into its clutches after a few weeks, or even after a 6 month quit. I thought I had it beaten! I think it must have been the "just one" lie which got me the last time. I smoked for another couple of years before I found the will power to try again. Every time I failed, I felt ashamed. Other people were quitting and staying quit, but I kept falling by the wayside, and smoking more as a result. How could they get it right and not me?

I began smoking at 13 years of age...just one or two with a friend in the evening s when we were out.

I never thought of the damage I was doing to myself. I felt exciting, in the swing of things, and accepted as an adult. So I had a bad cough after a cold, and my teeth weren't as white as my sister's, who never smoked. I no longer played any sports, but most of my friends smoked, so I never felt different.

I met and married my husband Paul when we were 22, both smoking like chimneys. I had 2 children by the time I was 26, and life went on as normal. We smoked around our children, never thinking it would be doing them any harm. They both begged us to stop when they learned about the dangers of smoking. We just rolled our eyes at each other, patronizingly poo-pooing their pleas. We weren't going to die! Other people did that!

My son has never smoked, while my daughter does, starting when she was 18. We never thought she would! My parents quit smoking, my aunts quit smoking, but they were older. I had loads of time to quit further down the line. Paul's mother died from a heart attack at only 55, after suffering a brain hemorrhage the year before, both smoking related illnesses. And still we smoked.

At age 36, I had a child with profound mental and physical retardation. We moved outside to smoke, as she had such trouble breathing, and we didn't want to add to that! Thank God no doctor ever said to us that Sinead's condition was smoking related. I couldn't have borne that guilt!

My father died a few years later from cancer throughout his body, as well as emphysema-already damaged even though he had quit for years. Still I smoked, even as he asked me on his deathbed to try to stop. I did mean to, but thought that I had too many worries to cope with. How would I cope without a smoke? Little did I know then, the smoking was only adding to my inability to cope, clouding my whole world in smoke.

Sinead died after almost 11 years in our home. I smoked more then ever. Paul had a stent inserted into a valve in his heart-caused by blockage, smoking related!

This is our last and most successful quit. Both of us still feel that we will never smoke again. I only wish we could have found this strength of purpose before. I have an abundance of energy, a joy in living, more confidence then ever before, and after 11 months of sobriety, I am more committed to this quit then ever before!

Anna

KAREN'S STORY

"Today I celebrate the miracle of being a healthy non-smoker"

I am proud to say that I have enough experience with life to have learned how to cherish life's little miracles with the same enthusiasm as I do the large.

A miracle, defined in the dictionary as something that defies scientific laws, an event or act that challenges logic, is exactly what I am living.

Today I celebrate the miracle of being a healthy non-smoker. I have accomplished no other deed that compares to this. No other achievement in my life touches the hem of gaining and retaining my life back from the world of the "smoking section".

There are many many roads to becoming an ex-smoker. Mine was not the straight and narrow nor was my trip the "shortest distance between two points". I took the long way around. Why?, blurred vision, inability to make a commitment?, or plain laziness?. All of the above, plus 3 or 4 less logical excuses assisted my reasoning, which allowed me to continue smoking when I knew that there was no good thing about it.

I won't dwell on my past smoking experiences. I've given enough of my life to a cause whose only return has robbed me of the quality and quantity of time that I may have to spend with my loved ones.

I will clarify, subjectively, the advantages of becoming a remaining a non-smoker.

Children
Anyone that has, loves or wants a child would do himself or herself a huge favor of not smoking. The impression that you make on children by what you do or, more important, don't do is more than you know.

Health
Your health will make or break you, literally. No matter how many old people you see smoking, you will never live to your expectant age if you continue to tell yourself that not every smoker dies early from cancer. The age that you do live to see will not be comfortable or enjoyable.

Time
I once read that smokers are better managers of time than non-smokers. So, I prided myself on being able to plan my next cigarette break before I even finished my current cigarette break, being able to remember to stop between destinations to restock. Progressive? Psychic? Neither, and anyone who still believes that they need a cigarette (a depressant), to figure out life's problems are not using the full capacity of their brain to start with.

Cost
A two-edged sword. I had convinced myself that$3.25 was not a lot to pay for my habit. I never asked anyone to purchase my cigarettes, and it was a small amount when you consider that other ILLEGAL drugs were much more. I work every day, and I am worth a mere $3.25, right? Right, but my life is worth more than that. Plus, I really do notice those extra bills in my pocket.

Smell
I can only laugh at my attempt to conceal the smell of smoke in my hair, clothes, skin, car, house, and mouth. I can now smell smoke from a block away. About the same distance that non-smokers smelt me from, no matter how sweet the perfume, gum or air freshener I used to carry with me at all times.

Making the decision to stop smoking has nothing to do with remaining a non-smoker. Ask any smoker about quitting. It's not the hard part. Remaining a quitter is more than a notion.

A small miracle or a large miracle? I cannot say. I do know that after exhausting all my natural powers, I kept praying for assistance to conquer a habit that half the world considers to be normal and the other half knows by it's true name: an addiction that causes cancer, emphysema, pain, and early death.

Karen

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