Uncle Mack’s post about reaching age 70 got me thinking about quitting smoking. It’s one of the things he advises you do to reach that milestone. Of course, every public health expert and doctor agrees.
I smoked for years. I started in 1975, after I graduated from high school. When I was in college everyone smoked, and I did, too. I continued smoking through my first post-college job at the Toledo Blade because every reporter smoked. Shortly after Kish and I moved to Washington, D.C., I quit. After about a year, I went to law school and started smoking again. I smoked throughout law school, then quit when I began my judicial clerkship after graduation. When we moved to Columbus and I started at the law firm, I took up smoking again. In 1992, I quit again — this time for good. I haven’t smoked a cigarette for about 20 years.
My cigarette of choice was Salem Lights. I smoked about half a pack a day. I lit up first thing in the morning because it gave me a kick start (and also seemed to encourage certain plumbing functions, if you know what I mean). I smoked later in the day, when I would hit that attention wall in mid-afternoon and needed a jolt. I smoked when I watched crucial football games. I smoked when I went to bars and parties. For the most part, it was a method of dealing with stressful situations — but I never felt like I had to have a cigarette. It really was more of a habit than an addiction, one that seemed to help me focus.
It wasn’t hard to quit. I decided I didn’t want to smoke anymore — the impact of smoking on the longevity of Webner males is horrendous — and I just stopped. I quit cold turkey, without patches, hypnotism, or gaining 100 pounds. I avoided temptation for a few weeks, and then really didn’t miss it anymore.
I think people are very different in that regard. For some people, like me, quitting really isn’t that tough. For others, who are in thrall to nicotine cravings, it is impossible chore. I don’t think we should judge those who smoke — they clearly know that it poses health risks, but they either don’t care or are in the grip of a powerful addiction that they just can’t shake. Either way, it’s not for me to browbeat them about their personal habits.
To those Webners who still smoke, I would only say that I have been a heck of a lot happier since I quit. I feel better, cleaner, and healthier. Quitting smoking was one of the very best decisions I ever made, and I recommend it.