Many of us former tobacco smokers have some story about how we managed to quit cancer sticks. Some claim they simply decided to quit, “cold turkey”. Others, like me, went through some mild sort of hell as they struggled to stop tobacco use. Whether it was psychological, physiological or both, I suffered through withdrawal symptoms each time I tried cutting back or stopping the habit.
After several attempts on my own, I asked my physician for help. I had heard about “The Patch” and wanted to use it. He wanted to try a different approach. He gave me a free trial box of four blood pressure reduction patches. My doctor advised me to line up somebody to give me rides for a month. Because I don’t have high blood pressure, the medication would make me feel drunk or spacy, so driving or operating dangerous equipment was out of the question. I was to apply the first patch before bed the following day. Each patch was to remain on me for a week at a time.
I still vividly remember the sequence of events of that early February morning in 1988, I performed a small ceremony. I took one cigarette out of the half-smoked pack of “Merit Ultra Light Menthol” cigarettes and placed it in my mouth. Then I removed the rest of the cigarettes then crushed and broke them up. I dropped the mess into the outdoor garbage can along with the empty package. I lit the last cigarette with my Bic lighter, then tossed the lighter into the garbage. I then focused on fully enjoying my last cigarette. I did so, clear down to the filter. I then flicked the butt into a snowbank. My favorite ashtray went to the trash next. The last thing I did, was to apply one of the patches to my left arm, near the shoulder.
Indeed, that was the very last time I smoked or used any sort of tobacco product. I fought the urge to give in, for about a week, until the desire finally subsided. Three weeks later, I determined there was no need for the fourth patch. I was free, at last.
Now, I can’t stand the odor of burning tobacco. I’m able to smell the residue on the body and clothing of anyone who steps outdoors to smoke. It’s an odor I hate.
When waiting at a check out lane at the supermarket or the gasoline station, I sometimes ponder the price of cigarettes. It’s a wonder why anybody would consider starting a cigarette habit when they must pay such high prices per pack. I feel sorry for folks who are still hooked. Many of them get by on limited income. I know what it’s like to sacrifice grocery money in order to afford to buy cigarettes.
A good friend and my younger brother both ended up paying the ultimate price for tobacco use. So, yes, I advocate for the non-smoking cause.
The World Health Organization has designated each May 31st as World No Tobacco Day. This is when we increase public awareness about the hazards of tobacco use and abuse. Today is when educational messages are given about the strategies of the tobacco industry. Information is also made available that promotes healthy habits and lifestyle choices. The idea is to outline the disadvantages of tobacco use and the advantages of being tobacco free. The focus is on protecting future generations from the scourge of tobacco use.
Although there are increased restrictions about tobacco promotion and advertising in the United States and other Western nations, people, elsewhere, are still subjected to aggressive and manipulative advertising campaigns.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and widespread information about the harmful effects of tobacco use, it’s surprising that many youths are experiencing nicotine dependence. One of the best times to quit, is when a person is still young enough to more easily interrupt the habit.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to discourage tobacco use, is through price increases. For World No Tobacco Day 2014, the WHO is calling on countries to increase taxes on tobacco and tobacco products. Increasing excise and luxury taxes on tobacco is considered as the most cost effective tobacco control measure. This is also an effective way to generate additional revenue that can be allocated to health spending in third world nations.
Tobacco use remains as one of humanity’s major ills. 6,000,000 people die each year as a result of tobacco use. Even non-smokers are affected. Over 600,000 of those deaths come about from breathing second-hand smoke. Everyone needs to be involved in solving the tobacco use problem.