Nope. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for my cats. I can almost hear the trill of laughter coming from those of you reading this, but bear with me. I also didn’t do it cold turkey, take a pill, use a patch, or chew gum.
I began smoking when I was 16, and smoked one-half to a full pack a day for the next 12 years. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, but a smoker is a smoker. I’d tried quitting cold turkey during my smoking years because I wanted to be healthier, but it never worked. When I quit for good, I was a broke college student, and at $3.50 a pack, cigarettes were getting expensive (that price is probably laughable to current smokers).
For me, the motivation was my cats’ health. I lived in a studio (1-room) apartment at the time, and I knew about second-hand smoke. One day, it occurred to me that if my cats got cancer, it would be my fault. That was the wake-up call that made me determined to quit smoking. I didn’t care about my own health, but I sure as $hit cared about theirs! Here’s what worked for me:
In 1998, we didn’t have cell phones, but we had wireless phones. So my first step was to quit smoking in my apartment. Back then, texting didn’t exist, so I’d spend hours on the phone with my friends, during which I smoked a lot. Fortunately, my apartment was at the end of the hallway where the fire escape was located, so I talked and smoked out there.
Writing papers was stressful, so I smoked plenty while doing homework. Because I made the decision not to smoke in my apartment, I started eating Blueberry Morning Cereal. Every time I craved a cigarette, I’d eat handfuls right out of the box! This included after regular meals, when I’d normally smoke. Whenever I felt like smoking, I’d reach for that box of cereal! I gained 10 lbs., but lost it once I stopped substituting cereal for cigarettes, which happened once I quit smoking for good.
My next step was to quit buying my own packs. I bummed smokes from my friends at school. They didn’t seem to mind. At that point, I had quit smoking in my apartment altogether and just smoked before, between, and after classes. As I smoked less, my cravings declined. And then one day, I had my last cigarette, and haven’t had one since 1998.
This isn’t a traditional approach to quitting smoking, but it worked for me. Again, my cats’ health was my motivator. Hopper (Princess), on the left side of the picture, and Basil (Blue-Eyes), on the right, lived to be 18 and 17 years old, respectively. After having worked with cats, both as a volunteer and as a veterinary assistant, I knew they had lived fairly long lives, even with the health problems that comes with being a really old cat. Towards the end of their lives, Hopper and Basil had a host of health problems, and were on all sorts of medication. Our current cats have never been exposed to cigarette smoke in our home and at 17, they aren’t even on medication!
I don’t know if quitting smoking made a difference in my cats’ lives, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I’m healthy for having quit.
This post was inspired by Beckie’s of Beckie’s Mental Mess series of posts on quitting smoking, which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. As of this writing, these are the only posts in the series. Please visit her blog to see if she writes more.
Photo provided by author