No Tobacco Day: Give up!

The world marked No Tobacco Day on May 31st, and the message of this day is, give up to save your health and that of your loved ones. One third of passive smoker deaths are children. Do you want to kill your kids? Then give up. Easier said than done? Impossible? Tried it, been there done that, failed? Then read on, this might be your lucky day.

Today, May 31 2012 I am going to share something with our readers, hoping that it makes a difference, if only for one or two of them; hopefully more if people spread the word around the Internet. What I would like to share today is about smoking and how to give up.

I write as someone who smoked three packs a day for some twenty years, the strongest cigarettes money could buy. In terms of tobacco, I have been around the block. I smoked filter cigarettes, non-filter cigarettes, Russian cigarettes with cardboard filters (Kazbek), Breton fisherman's cigarettes (Bastós), Spanish Ducados, French Gaulloise, Black tobacco, cigarillas, cigars, pipe tobacco, even clay pipes. In terms of tobacco, you name it, I smoked it. And a lot of it.

As a matter of fact, I exchanged a promising career as an athlete (three back-to-back five-minute miles, or three miles in 13 minutes and 54 seconds in 1974) as I swapped the athletics track and later the soccer pitch for parties and cigarettes, and as time went on, the sport became less and less competitive until I could not do it any more at that level.

And so it went on for two decades. Pathetic attempts to give up usually ended after a day or two, sometimes an hour or two and the worst was two minutes, always with excuses as my brain conjured up images of waiting at an airport or having a coffee or being at a formal dinner or in a meeting or making an important phone call without a nipple-substitute in my hand or between my lips.

And for two decades I spent fortunes buying those three packs of cigarettes in the morning to provide a hand-in-the-dark whenever I had to perform any social activity, such as those mentioned above. The notion then dawned on me, why was I so inadequate as a person that I could not just do these things by myself without blowing smoke everywhere, filling my lungs with chemicals (very little of it is tobacco), making my hair and clothes reek, staining the curtains, the sofa, the floor, walls and ceiling and blackening my lungs with tar, exponentially increasing the possibility of cancerous conditions from my lips right through to my rectum?

And also killing my kids and others around me.

Was I enjoying it? Hell no, the first cigarette of the day used to make me want to throw up and the others, I couldn't taste. Many of them burnt away un-smoked in the ashtray. The coughing attacks at night used to rack my entire body in pain and leave me breathless and gasping for air.

Give up? Me??!!

Despite all this, the notion of giving up seemed as absurd as those healthy people who trot off to health clubs at some God-awful hour of the morning smiling inanely with a towel round their necks throwing a toilet roll in the air and catching it in one hand without dropping it. Giving up was not something I even envisaged because I wasn't going to get an endless list of cancers, or emphysema or hearth disease or cardiovascular disease. I even used to joke with the warning on the packet and ask the vendor to give me the ones that said cigarettes were harmful for pregnant mothers, or else ask for 60 nails for my coffin. Ha bloody ha...

This isn't going to turn into a sudden sob story with a paragraph starting: "and then my life changed forever and now, with three months to go, I see colours I never knew existed"... just because I was lucky and apparently stopped in time, 18 years ago.

Strangely, the one time I tried to give up seriously, and whole-heartedly, it was as easy as saying "I am not smoking any more, because I am happy being a non-smoker". It happened after I had long started contemplating that the longer I smoked, the more likely I was to die ten to twenty years before I would otherwise and had latched onto the glimmer of hope I saw in a short article saying the sooner you gave up, the quicker your body could recuperate and the less likely you were to suffer the consequences of your addiction.

I set a date some eight months hence and every day asked myself why I was purposefully killing myself and why couldn't I make a phone call without sucking on my mother's breast, or its substitute. Needless to say, I stopped before the date, I stopped voluntarily, I stopped proudly and with pleasure and I did not suffer one single "withdrawal" symptom because I didn't need to use them to convince me to continue smoking.

See, I had it licked and it has remained that way ever since. And no, you do not need to compensate by eating sixteen pounds of fudge and doubling in size any more than you need to eat forty-five mushrooms or sixteen lettuces. What is difficult about half-filling a medium-sized plate with greens and vegetables, a quarter carbs and a quarter protein, then eating slow-burning fruit and vegetables between meals, drinking wine and beer at weekends, the occasional vodka a few times a year...and getting a bit of exercise?

OK it isn't five-minute miles back-to-back but whatever it is, it is far better than smoking. You look better, you feel better, you sleep better, you concentrate better and you are richer into the bargain. And the perfect answer to those slick tobacco company salesmen who are peddling to make them unemployed. Tomorrow!

Try it... it doesn't bite...

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov