Like so many baby boomers, I started smoking at an early age. My introduction to cigarettes came at age 16 and was a result of peer pressure and social acceptability. Unaware of the dangers of smoking, partially due to no warning labels on cigarette packages and no age limit to purchase the smoke of death I smoked constantly for 20 years.
Since smoking was socially acceptable during the 70’s I thought cigarettes would never hurt me. I was convinced that I could quit whenever I chose to quit. Unfortunately, I rejected any supporting data by the Surgeon General. The rejection was probably due to the limited advertisement and denial of the dangers by the tobacco companies who kept increasing the nicotine to ensure addiction.
Smoking for 20 years affected my health, causing me to have shortness of breath, unable to walk one block without gasping for air. Smoking caused me to have constant chest pains, compiled with an irregular heart beat as well as eliminating my sense of smell and taste.
I was an addict and afraid to quit. I tried quitting for 10 years, with no success. I would quit and after 6 days the urge to smoke was overwhelming. I constantly prayed for God to take away the taste and desire of smoking. Alas, I discovered that God had given me the will to overcome the monster of smoking.
It was 1992 during one of Memphis nastiest winters. I was lying in bed with a temperature of 104 and dehydrated. The urge to smoke in spite of my illness was overwhelming. This pressing desire activated something we should never lose. It initiated the power of our God given will to resist any thing that tries to harm us. I was not allowed to smoke inside so I had to go outside in the ice and snow to smoke. With a 104° temperature, standing on ice and snow, chest hurting, sore throat, I knew then that I was an addict and I had to quit. I refused to light the cigarette and made a vow that night, I would never smoke again.
I have been smoke free for 23 years. My sense of taste and smell has returned. I no longer have chest pains and people do not shun me because I no longer have a smoke odor. Yes, stopping was hard, but it was worth the journey. The withdrawal symptoms were sometimes painful, but I no longer wake up to the smoke of death.
Has your life been affected by cigarette smoking? Are you a former smoker? Did you quit for personal health reasons? How long did you smoke? Are you a current smoker? Do you know someone who died after years of smoking? We are always looking for new stories for our Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Blog. You NEVER know when your story could help someone else and encourage them to stop smoking. Send us your contact information below so we can tell YOUR story.
It’s Worth the Journey and the Tennessee Tobacco Quit Line is an excellent resource. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW!
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