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Cigarettes Control Your Life, Not the Other Way Around

The American Lung Association is sharing inspiring stories from individuals who have been able to end their addiction to tobacco and stop smoking through #TheDayIQuit blog series. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it is possible—and we firmly believe that anyone can quit with the right support. If you, or someone you know, would like to quit smoking, share with them the new, interactive Freedom From Smoking® Plus.

Have your own quit story to share? Leave a comment below and we'll work together to showcase your success and inspire others to start their quit.

Cigarettes are awful. They're unhealthy, they're expensive, they smell disgusting. Doesn't mean I didn't smoke them. Cigarettes control your life, not the other way around.

I started smoking when I was 10 years old, to be cool I guess. Back then I would just buy them from the corner store, they didn't have tobacco age laws—or at least they didn't enforce them.

I smoked for over 40 years, and tried quitting several times with pills, patches and hypnosis. And then I had a heart attack, and the hospital really drilled into me to stop smoking and recommended the Freedom from Smoking® program. It was the only thing that I hadn't tried before, and it was what finally worked. Every week for eight weeks, we went through the workbook and identified our smoking triggers and behaviors, and how to work through the urges. We set a quit date and talked about how we were feeling. That's what worked for me. The support, the other people. 

I was going through some pretty rough moments in my personal life, but I stayed smokefree. Those meetings and those people really helped. I always left those meetings feeling better. My only complaint about the Freedom From Smoking program is that it isn't long enough. I kept getting together with people from the program after it was over, and when I hit four months smokefree—that was the longest I had ever kept from smoking. It's been over two years now, and I'll never go back.

Find a friend, find someone that will take your call when you're hitting a low point. Call the Lung HelpLine! I ran into a woman from junior high school the other day and she was quitting smoking. We aren't close, but she calls me when she's having a rough moment. It's working for her.

My advice: Just do it. No matter how many times it takes. No matter what is going on in your life. They are all just excuses. Take back your life.

Related Topics: Tobacco & Smoking, Health & Wellness,

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Submitted by American Lung Association at: October 25, 2016
Thank you so much for your story, Brent!
Submitted by Brent Green at: October 7, 2016
Your commenting software does not retain paragraph formatting when copied from Word. Sorry for one long, continuous paragraph above. My original piece breaks into nine paragraphs and is much easier to read and follow.
Submitted by Brent Green at: October 7, 2016
The boy lay pensively inside an oxygen tent, struggling to breathe the cold, aseptic air; nurses and doctors gathered curiously around their small patient. The child was frightened by this sea of white coats, not knowing if their appearance might precede some other invasive treatment for his inability to breathe. The child had almost died two days earlier from asthmatic bronchoconstriction. Rushed to the hospital emergency room and then stabilized, his heart raced from fear of these doctors plus the speedy effects of epinephrine surging through his bloodstream. Ten year later, the child had “outgrown” his acute asthma attacks and was becoming a rebellious teenager. Since this was the mid-1960s, around 50% of adult men in the United States smoked cigarettes, the 20th century symbol of iconoclastic culture, the rise of Marlboro Man. Hollywood icons such as Sammy Davis Jr., Yul Brynner, George Peppard and Steve McQueen popularized the habit. A monolithic tobacco industry employed marketing trickery to make the dangerous habit appear benign if not downright healthful. Smoking was the cultural norm celebrated in marketing and movies. The teenager became hooked on cigarettes before the United States Surgeon General announced in 1965 that cigarette smoking could be the cause of lung cancer and other serious diseases. By the time this teenager became a college graduate student in psychology, he was smoking up to two packs of cigarettes per day and lung abuse was beginning to take a toll on his health. The person I’m describing is me. An asthmatic in childhood and addicted to cigarettes in my youth, I owe my health today to a man and a philosophy of living that he came to personify. At the beginning of my second year of graduate school at the University of Kansas, several students and I were visiting a professor at her home. During our conversation, her boyfriend stopped by, a man of imposing stature, at that time weighing around 215 pounds of solid muscle. At six-foot-four-inches and with a chiseled jaw, Mark Crooks initially appeared to be a stereotypical jock, albeit one who could have also posed as a male fashion model. I learned that he was a PhD candidate seeking double degrees in sports psychology and exercise physiology. Mark’s extraordinary degree of fitness and his friendly nature caused me to confess to him that I was then having growing concerns about my health. By the early 1970s, the connections between smoking and cancer were gaining wider acceptances in spite of extraordinary denials by tobacco companies. I knew my long-term health was on the line. Mark invited me to go jogging with him the following Saturday, and though hesitant I accepted. We ran in a city park in Lawrence, and at first I kept pace, being young and lean. But as the miles stretched out, Mark’s graceful stride left me in the background. I recall seeing him running effortlessly ahead in the distance. Because health was what I wanted more than anything after a childhood of illness, I quit smoking four days later, on September 14, 1973. Mark never scolded or lectured me about smoking but caused me to seek health because of the example he set.
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