Sometimes, quitters really do win

I decided last weekend to do something special for myself when Tuesday rolled around, my one year anniversary as a staff writer here at The Evening Sun. I didnít take myself out for a special lunch or dinner, didnít visit the book store for a new novel to immerse myself in or buy myself that new guitar which I really donít need (but would love to have anyway). No, I finally came to the realization that it was time Ė and past time Ė for me to quit that inherently evil, dastardly habit of smoking.

Iíll be honest, Iíve been promising myself (and others) for quite some time now that I should finally quit, actually since my thirtieth birthday nearly four years ago. Yet, for some reason or another, it just never stuck. Iíve been smoking (at least) a pack of cigarettes a day for almost 16 years now and, even though Iíve always known the stupidity of this particularly nasty habit, I simply couldnít summon up the willpower to drop it for good. This time around (like so many others in the past) it came down to two factors Ė the damn things are far too expensive, especially in New York State, and Iím tired of paying that much money for something that is slowly killing me.

While that reasoning in itself should seem completely logical, even to the most diehard smoker, itís amazing how difficult it can be to live by. And yet thatís my ultimate reason for quitting, Iíd like to live (not to mention saving up for that guitar I mentioned). Itís that simple.

However, Iím forced to face the facts. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of Americaís estimated 50 million smokers will attempt to kick the habit this year. Only one in ten will succeed. The reason behind this isnít all that hard to figure out though Ė the nicotine found in todayís cigarettes is, according to many, more addictive than heroin (yet still legal).

On the other hand, there are some amazingly healthy consequences to quitting, according to modern research. Twenty minutes after smoking my last cigarette, my blood pressure and pulse rate dropped toward their normal levels. This was especially important to me, seeing as how every time I sit down at that nifty little machine which measures blood pressure at the drug store, the screen lights up with the words GO TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW. While thatís not entirely true, the numbers donít lie. And a heart attack (did I mention that 24 hours after my last smoke, the chances of such an occurrence decreased?) doesnít sound like all that much fun to me. On top of that, the body temperature in my hands and feet increased, which is also nice because, well, itís starting to get a little chilly out there. Talk about an added bonus, right?

And thatís just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the healthy benefits of quitting.

Besides the healthy ramifications, Iíll admit I have other reasons to cease smoking. Although it wasnít the only factor in my fatherís death, Iím fairly certain that cigarettes (he smoked two to three packs a day for decades) contributed heavily toward it. In addition, Iím sure my co-workers here at our hometown daily will be happy to be rid of that lovely stench which accompanies each and every smoker. And to know Iíll never hear that sarcastic, yet well-deserved, ďWow Brian, you smell nice,Ē is Ė how shall I say Ė priceless.

Over the years Iíve had many friends and family members beg for me to quit smoking. I, in complete ignorance, would sarcastically answer that quitters never win. After 16 years of smoking, I suppose Iíve come to realize just how idiotic that truly must have sounded. To those of you out there whoíd also like to kick the habit, just know that in this case, quitters do win. And they win big.

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