It’s that time of year again, another milestone on the road of the ex-smoker. After smoking and chain-smoking for more than two decades, I gave up three and a half years ago and have not smoked since, apart from in my dreams occasionally.
Like many ex-smokers, I took up smoking in my early teens, despite having found the odd puff of cigarette disgusting before then. Within eighteen months, I’d become addicted. The addiction spiralled out of control over the next couple of decades. In fact, I smoked during several bouts of flu and pneumonia. Often, the cigarette would cause me to cough so harshly, I’d nearly pass out. When this happened, I would throw myself into a horizontal position to prevent myself from losing consciousness.
Just over three and a half years ago, one of the practice team at my local surgery phoned to challenge me to quit smoking. At first, I became defensive.
Then, a simple test to ascertain my true lung age revealed that I had the lungs of a man thirty years older than my actual age; this has since dropped, fortunately. I think the true lung age test finally did it for me. About a fortnight later, I smoked my last cigarette.
Professionals and ex-smokers can have conflicting opinions on whether people should quiet cold turkey or with an aid like Nicorette. I definitely belong in the second group. I think too many smokers relapse, especially when they get overly stressed or attend social events – so in my opinion, carrying a small amount of Nicorette around can’t possibly do any harm.
What other things have I learnt during my time as an ex-smoker?
a) The majority of ex-smokers can’t smoker just one cigarette, then give up again (a common temptation). The one cigarette will often lead the person back to regular, heavy smoking.
b) As giving up smoking means never smoking another cigarette, the ex-smoker must have a strong reason for quitting. In my case, the true lung age test revealed how much damage smoking had caused me, enough to propel me to make the decision to stop.
Just a few more of my thoughts.