Commen-Terry: Butt out! Your lungs will thank you

To quit or not to quit?

That should not be a question.

How much more proof do you need?

Global warming/climate change is one thing, but there can not be any denying the irreparable damage done by smoking.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in B.C. and is associated with more than 6,000 deaths annually in the province (source: Canadian Cancer Society).

The B.C. government has made a concerted effort to help those wanting to quit. According to Health Minister Terry Lake, 234,500  British Columbians have used the BC’s Smoking Cessation Program in an effort to quit.

That program offers cost covering for numerous different smoking cessation methods, including covering 100 per cent of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (specific nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, inhaler).

It will also help in the coverage of prescription cessation drugs.

I know it isn’t easy. I quit smoking seven years ago, and I still dream about it from time to time - and I don’t just dream about having a cigarette. I dream about smoking a whole pack.

I wake up in the morning, disgusted that I fell off the wagon, then realize it was all in my mind. I’ve had a doctor explain to me that it’s my subconscious, addressing a deep-seated addiction that still rears its head every once in a while.

It makes sense, to me. After all, I smoked for nearly 30 years.

I remember my father telling me he would have the same dreams - and my father quit smoking cigarettes before I was born.

While I have never met anyone who has successfully stopped smoking by wearing the patch, it obviously must be effective, for the government to support it.

Another method, which I can attest to, is hypnosis.

Both my grandma and my former mother-in-law quit successfully after one therapy session, although to her dying day, my grandma would not admit hypnosis had anything to do with her ability to quit.

She came out of the therapy session, threw her pack of cigarettes in the garbage, and said to my mom, “I can’t believe I just spent good money on such a ridiculous therapy session. Such a waste of my money. That’s it; I quit.”

She did not have another cigarette in 15 years.

Sadly, the damage had been done. The last 15 years of my grandma’s life were painful to watch, and surely more painful to  experience.

She died of emphysema, and by the time she passed away, she was but a shell of her former, vibrant self.

Personally, I was fortunate. I quit cold turkey - which is how most of the people I know who have stayed off the weed have done it.

For me, it was a decision made in my days of courting my wife, Erica. (Or was she courting me? I can’t remember.) Erica has never smoked, and I would never smoke around her. As I spent more time with her, I realized she was more important to me than tobacco.

That said, before I met her, I was quite willing to stand outside in -30C, -40C temperatures in the dead of winter in northern Alberta, simply to cure my craving.

It’s a merciless addiction, and one with no upside.

There are so many reasons to quit; do it for your own health, do it for those around you. Food will taste better. Your lung capacity will grow. You won’t stink!

This week (Jan. 15-21) is National Non-Smoking Week. Why not make it the first week of your non-smoking life? It could be the toughest thing you ever do, but I can assure you one thing. Successfully quitting will give you more satisfaction than any cigarette ever did. Ever.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record


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