I purchased my last pack of cigarettes on August 30th, 2013. And it was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. Not only has my health improved, but my bank account is a little happier, too!
I remember the night I smoked my first cigarette. It was a Winston Light that I’d stolen from the pack of cigarettes my mom always kept in the pocket of her smoking coat during the winter.
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I was in my bedroom. I had taken the screen out of my second story window and I was leaning outside the window as far as I possibly could.
I lit the cigarette with a Bic lighter and inhaled. I held all the smoke in my mouth…
I was scared to let the smoke travel into my lungs.
I exhaled the wasted nicotine into the night air.
Bishop had just died. He was my childhood dog. I was 15 years old and I was so angry.
You see, I wasn’t one of those kids that made friends easily. Heck, to this day I’m not the kind of adult that makes friends easily!
Bishop had been my best bud. I never had real friends, but he had always been there, as long as I could remember.
I was hurt and I was mad. It was my parent’s fault and it was the vet’s fault. He shouldn’t have died.
I couldn’t think of any way to get back at my parents. And the pain felt like it would never stop.
Somehow I’d convinced myself that stealing my parent’s cigarettes and taking up smoking would kill two birds with one stone.
So there I was. Leaning out my window under a cold winter’s moon. I couldn’t wuss out… I couldn’t be scared. I had to really inhale the smoke or else I would fail.
I mustered up a little courage and gave it a second try. I inhaled. The smoke was in my mouth. “You have to do this” I remember telling myself.
I opened my mouth and took a deep breath of air.
The smoke burned down my throat and windpipe. It went into my lungs where it felt like a million needles were poking me from the inside out.
I remember the taste so clearly. And I can still feel that disgusting film a cigarette leaves in your mouth prior to you becoming addicted. Both things I would soon come to crave over the next couple weeks as I continued to steal cigarettes from my parents.
Somehow, over the years, one Winston Light a night turned into a pack of Marlboro Reds a day. My nightly indulgence became an undeniable addiction.
I tried to quit for the first time when I learned I was pregnant at the age of 18. Following the subsequent miscarriage, I went straight back to smoking without hesitation.
At 19 I tried quitting again, unsuccessfully, using nicotine patches.
I quit for a second time when I was 20. I used someone’s leftover Chantix from when they had quit earlier in the year. It lasted a couple months, but then stuff happened and life got tough. I was stressed and told myself that I could smoke just one. After that one, each time the stress came back, I reached for another cigarette. Before I knew it I was back to smoking a pack a day.
I married my first husband, a non-smoker, when I was 21. During our one year marriage I quit and started up again 2 more times, each time trying to go cold turkey.
All three of those times I quit smoking for someone else, not for me. I did it because other people were pushing me to do it.
Hubby and I started seeing each other a couple weeks before my 23rd birthday. I was smoking at least a pack a day and was in the middle of divorcing my now ex-husband.
Hubby didn’t smoke, but he did chew. I didn’t mind. I had a vice, he had a vice. I couldn’t complain about him, he couldn’t complain about me.
Over the next year, he took up smoking and I took up chewing (occasionally). By the time August of 2013 rolled around, we had both taken up the others vice and had two addictions!
We decided we’d try to quit both addictions together, at the same time. Between the inconvenience of having to go outside every time we wanted to smoke, the price of cigarettes and chew, and the overall impact both (but especially cigarettes) had on our health, neither of us wanted to continue using tobacco.
We chose Labor Day weekend. They say it takes 72 hours for nicotine to leave your system completely. They say the first three days are the hardest. What better time to quit than a three day weekend?
We bought cigarettes and chew Friday morning on our way to work (back then we worked for the same company). We smoked as much as we wanted. We chewed as much as we wanted. All day. It was our way of saying goodbye to our dear, beloved friend named Nicotine.
We decided when we went to bed Friday night, that was it. We were putting whatever cigarettes remained in our packs and whatever chew was left over on the top of the refrigerator, going to bed, and we weren’t to touch them all weekend.
We didn’t have long term goals. We weren’t looking ahead thinking “I can’t wait to be tobacco free for 3 years!”.
We were just making it through the weekend.
It was tough! Saturday night we got into a big fight. Something happened, I blew it out of proportion. Hubby went to bed without me and I sat on the couch in our living room furious. For me, the hardest part of quitting was finding a new way to handle anger… and this was the first time I had to deal with my anger without lighting up a cigarette. In my highly angry state, sitting on that couch, all I could think about was going into the kitchen and grabbing the cigarettes off the top of the fridge.
I didn’t, though. And even today, nearly 3 years later, I couldn’t be more proud of myself for sticking it out that night.
Had I gotten off that couch, walked into the kitchen, grabbed the cigarettes and taken them outside, it’s quite possible that I’d still be smoking today.
I struggled with anger management for months. Long after I stopped craving cigarettes after meals, every time I drove, and during breaks at work, I still craved them when I would get mad.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure when it happened exactly. But sometime between then and now, I came to grips with my anger and stopped feeling the urge to smoke every time something made me mad.
Hubby and I haven’t purchased a cigarette in 3 years (Hubby recently returned to chewing and is buying chew again… kind of disappointing). I jumped onto this online calculator and did a little math. We have saved somewhere between $8,000 and $11,000 in cigarettes alone since they day we quit!
That’s $8-11k that we have been able to invest elsewhere. Into our future and into fun.
Not only is our bank account happier, our health is better.
Within a week of quitting, I noticed it was easier for me to breathe. I wasn’t coughing all the time anymore and my lungs could handle me running again! I ran every chance I got for a couple weeks!
It was a long, hard road. I wanted to cave in, give up and buy cigarettes countless times.
But I didn’t.
If Hubby and I were able to quit, anyone can! I know it’s a lot harder, but I highly recommend just going at it cold turkey HOWEVER don’t set your goal too high! Don’t tell yourself “this is forever“. Just try to make it through the first 72 hours. Make those first three days your one and only goal. And don’t get rid of your cigarettes.
It sounds counterproductive, I know, but make sure you still have cigarettes in your house. I think this one really helped me a lot. Knowing that I had a half pack of cigarettes on my fridge somehow made it easier.
Are you an ex-smoker? How and when did you quit? How much money have you saved?
Or are you someone who is thinking about quitting? Why do you want to quit? Are you going to try my technique or do you have another plan in mind?