The End of a 30 Year Habit

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This will undoubtedly come as a surprise to many who know me, mainly family members – I was a smoker for 30 years!  Those who worked with me at various jobs were very well aware of my dirty little habit, but I kept it hidden when it came to family.  Some will ask why I was a “closet smoker,” and I can sum it up in one sentence.  I didn’t want to deal with judgment, lectures, and guilt.  That’s it, period.  

Growing up, I cannot remember a time when my father didn’t smoke.  In fact, up until about a year before he passed away, he always smoked.  I had no idea growing up that nicotine was as addictive as heroin and equally as hard to quit.  I watched my father, aunts, and uncles smoke, so how could it be that bad, right?  After all, the Marlboro Man was this big, brave cowboy on a horse smoking and an advertising icon, so how could it be bad?

Image credit Ronald Plett on Pixaby

I can remember the exact time in my life when I started smoking, where I worked, and the brand I started with.  I was 19 years old and took a job working at a convenience store.  I had tried college, and it just wasn’t for me.  I am not an idle person, and sitting in a classroom for an hour being lectured just wasn’t my thing.  After one semester, I told my parents I didn’t want to go to school any longer; I wanted to work and earn money.

Day after day, I would watch people come and go, buying their snacks, beer, coffee, and cigarettes.  Over time, I learned who the regulars were, and in the case of smokers, exactly which brand and flavor they preferred.  Each time they came in, I would have their packs of cigarettes ready for them on the counter, without them even having to ask.  That is something that, as a smoker, I appreciated when I stopped to get my “fix.”

One evening, when working an overnight shift, I was bored.  I had cleaned everything there was to clean, stocked what needed to be stocked, and I had nothing to do.  All I had was myself and a radio.  This was before cell phones, and we certainly didn’t have a television in the store.  

I decided that this would be a good time to try smoking.  My only hesitation was deciding which brand and flavor I would start with?  As I contemplated my decision, I remembered what the most popular cigarette seemed to be, Marlboro Light 100’s.  That was the beginning of what would turn into a 30-year habit that was the hardest thing I have ever quit in my life.  Don’t worry; I paid for the pack of cigarettes!

As I sat and smoked that first cigarette, I remember the feeling I had.  I felt mature, cool, and a little light-headed.  I figured the light-headedness would go away eventually. This was awesome.  Now I looked as cool as my father did when he smoked. I just couldn’t tell him that I was doing it.   That’s another story.

Through the years, I continued to smoke that same brand of cigarette.  Even when I met my first husband, I lied to him initially and told him I didn’t smoke because he didn’t like smokers, and I didn’t want to lose him.  We dated for over a year before getting engaged, and he never knew I was a smoker. When we moved in together, I told him I smoked, and he had to deal with it if he wanted me to stay.  He adjusted, and we eventually got married, and he started to smoke as well, so it was even better, no guilt.

In 1994, my father abruptly quit smoking.  Cold turkey, no reason, just quit one day.  Before that, he had been losing weight but didn’t really seem much different to me personality-wise.  He was still the larger-than-life, strong man I always loved and knew.  Over the course of about 8 months, his health declined significantly until one evening when he fell at home and couldn’t get up.

That was it. I rushed to my parent’s house and forced my father to go to the hospital.  That was when we got the devastating news, he had terminal lung cancer, and there was nothing that could be done for him.  It was too far advanced for any treatment to slow it down or stop it.

Within a matter of months, my father’s health rapidly declined, and he eventually passed away. I was 28 years old, and my father was 56.  It was the hardest thing I had dealt with in my life.  I kept smoking.

Between 1994 and 1997, my mother and I made several trips to California, our home state.  Each time, it was for the funeral of one of her brothers, and each time, they had died from some form of cancer.  I kept smoking.

Photo by Ulrike Mai on Pixaby

September 5, 1997, was the worse day of my life, period!  That was the day my mother died of lung cancer.  I was 30 years old, and my mother was 56.  She was NOT a smoker.  From the day the ambulance took my mother to the emergency room until the day she passed away, it was 2 weeks.  I can remember everything about her time in the hospital, even though I would rather forget it.  I still smoked.

Now, I was beyond upset. I was devastated.  My best friend, my mother, was gone.  I had to deal with her estate, sell her house, take care of everything.  My brothers had to go home to their lives, so it was up to me. I needed to smoke to stay sane.  So I kept smoking.

Over the years, I used my divorce and my job as excuses for why I kept smoking.  You would think that after losing both of my parents to lung cancer, I would quit.  It’s not as easy for some to quit as it sounds.  Remember, nicotine is as addictive as heroin, and to be successful at quitting, one has to WANT to quit.

Photo by Tumisu on Pixaby

After I left my job in retail management, I decided that I needed to stop making excuses and quit smoking.  I just didn’t know how to start or how I would accomplish quitting without the triggers of smoking pushing me back into the habit.  I didn’t have anything to keep my mind occupied, and boredom was always a trigger for me.

I had tried the patches and lozenges in the past, neither worked for me.  They just kept giving me the one thing that was hardest to give up, nicotine.  I needed something that would not give me nicotine but would help me with the cravings, irritability, and everything else that goes with quitting.  I researched and did my due diligence to find a product that was safe and healthy.

That’s when I discovered a product called Smoke Away.  This is a homeopathic product that combines herbs and vitamins to help with the cravings and the emotions that go along with quitting.  It also contains natural ingredients that help rid the body of the toxins from smoking, helping your body to cleanse itself faster.  

“The All Natural Smoke Away stop smoking support system was designed to help your body deal with withdrawal systems as you go through the process of quitting as well as to help remove the chemicals and toxins that have built up in your body while you were a smoker. We have put together a group of all natural easy-to-use components that provide an extra line of defense to assist as you become a non-smoker.”

As I researched the Smoke Away product, I read articles from medical universities, doctors, and successful product users.  Everything I read touted this product as a wonderful way to help in the process of quitting without adding harmful chemicals to the body or keeping me addicted to the nicotine.  I had found my answer, and I was going to purchase this product and kick this habit once and for all.

Despite my being unemployed, I decided that the $85 investment for the Essentials Kit was well worth the money.  I was investing in my health and future, and considering my habit cost $250 a month to support, the investment was minimal compared to the thousands I had spent over the years (roughly $400,000).

The day I smoked my last cigarette was scary for sure.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel, what my moods would be like, or how I would handle the cravings.  With the help of the Smoke Away products, especially the mouth spray, I was able to battle through them, and they really weren’t that bad.  

Part of the program’s success is the addition of an audio program that helps you better understand the effects of smoking and what happens when you quit, emotionally and physically.  It also helps with preparation for the start date and support throughout the process through positive affirmations.  

“The Smoke Away® Audio Program and Manual downloads were created to provide valuable information about smoking, health concerns, and most importantly, motivational support. You will be educated about the dangers of smoking and provided guidelines for using Smoke Away®. The Audio Program was created to give you encouragement and support to help get you through the tough times.”

When I started to write this story, I knew that I was putting myself out there and admitting to a lot of people that I had deceived them through the years.  For that, I am truly sorry, but if you understand the addiction of smoking, you then understand the guilt someone can feel by having such a dangerous habit and not being able to give it up easily.   

I can proudly say that I am smoke-free and feel great and that quitting was one of the smartest things I have ever done, next to marrying my husband, of course.

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