Winners Never Quit? I Beg to Differ.

I started a recycling program at my old job.  I go around my house turning off lights behind my roommate.  I teach people how to become healthy through diet, exercise, and stress reduction.  I reapply sunscreen and wear stupid hats to the pool to protect my sensitive skin from sunburn and skin cancer.  And then I wash down all of my philanthropy and healthy living with a good old Camel Light.

I have distinct memories of how smoking became a part of my life.  I remember when I was 17 years old and I lit cigarettes for my friend Maggie when she was driving us somewhere (after all, that was the age when we still kept both hands on the wheel!)  I remember saying that I would buy a pack of cigarettes legally on my 18th birthday and then I would quit.  I also remember my first night of college.  My new roommate Abby wasn’t finished getting ready for our tour of campus (and she didn’t know that I smoked) so I told her that I was going to go wait outside.  I started smoking my cigarette, but Abby came outside before I finished.  I told her that I didn’t really smoke and that was the LAST cigarette I was ever going to have.  I’m approaching my 29th birthday and I just quit smoking last month.

A month might not seem like a long time to most people, but to a smoker it seems like an eternity.  If you’re a smoker, you can safely guess that this is not my first time off the sauce (but it is certainly my longest without even a single “slip”).  What’s different this time?  Answer:  The way I think.  I decided to take one cigarette craving at a time.  After all, 3 days after your last puff the nicotine clears out of your system – meaning the craving battle was all in my head.

I laugh when I think about my “triggers.”  How could a cigarette help me drive my car or write a paper?  How could a cigarette console me when I was sad or bored?  Why did I need a cigarette to signal the end of every errand, event, and meal?  When I started breaking the silly associations I had made between smoking and my daily activities, I was actually able to throw my pack away and not go back to Harris Teeter 5 days later to buy another one.  If you need some extra help talking yourself through your cravings or thinking of other ideas that might make you a successful quitter, I’d suggest enlisting the help of NC Quitline either by phone at 1-800-QUIT-NOW seven days a week from 8 am to 3 pm or on the web at

You can still resolve to quit even if it wasn’t your New Year’s Resolution this year.  You can wake up any day and decide to make a change for the better and not let any excuses get in your way.  It’s your choice.

And in case you didn’t know what happens after you quit smoking… (courtesy of


  • Blood pressure drops to normal
  • Pulse rate drops to normal
  • Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal


  • Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
  • Oxygen level in blood increases to normal


  • Chance of heart attack decreases


  • Nerve endings start regrowing
  • Ability to smell and taste is enhanced


  • Circulation improves
  • Walking becomes easier
  • Lung function increases up to 30 percent


  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease
  • Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection
  • Body’s overall energy increases


  • Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker


  • Lung cancer death rate for an average former smoker (one pack a day) decreases by almost half
  • Stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker five to 15 years after quitting
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is half that of a smoker’s


  • Lung cancer death rate is similar to that of a non-smoker
  • Precancerous cells are replaced
  • Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, cervix, and pancreas decreases


  • Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker

*Names changed to protect privacy.

5 thoughts on “Winners Never Quit? I Beg to Differ.

  1. Laetitia March 31, 2011 / 2:29 pm

    I really want to thank you for sharing your story. I was a secret smoker for a few years and I always feel strange admitting it…. because I’m health promoter. In a way, it’s been helpful to have this personal perspective on nicotine addiction, struggles with quitting, and eventually being successful. Congrats on getting past the first month!


  2. anonymous March 29, 2011 / 12:44 pm

    Great article! Though I am not a smoker, my brother is, and I am going to forward this to him. I love your honesty!


  3. bomalley March 29, 2011 / 11:30 am

    I think it is great that you have the courage to talk openly about your victory (and struggle) with quitting smoking. I think that we feel like health promoters are supposed to be perfect, but in fact I think your process is inspiring to others. Keep it up!


  4. Lovin' it March 29, 2011 / 12:38 am

    Keep up the good work! You can do this!!


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