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Six months and counting without cigarettes
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Last week, I passed the six-month mark since I quit smoking. To be exact, it has been 189 days without a cigarettes.

As a former pack-a-day smoker, that equates to more than 3,500 cigarettes that I have not smoked. For a little more perspective, my preferred brand of cigarettes usually costs a little more than $5 with tax, which means I have saved about $950 since I quit.

And all of those benefits are in addition to, you know, not developing cancer or emphysema.

In fact, the number of benefits I have already experienced is lengthy. Here is my laundry list:

Easier to work

Gone are the days of extreme cravings.

I was never allowed to smoke during the work day, and I frequently struggled with cravings. Though the cravings worsened shortly after I quit, they went away with a little time. After a couple of weeks, I was able to finish an entire work day with only a few passing thoughts of smoking.

Better smell and taste

This is both a good and a bad thing. I am able to smell all the wonderful scents of spring, but I also have to smell it when my toddler poops or something in the refrigerator goes bad. Alongside this, I can taste food much better, which means when I compliment my fiancee on her cooking, I’m actually telling the truth.

Nonsmoker scent

When you are an active smoker, the smell of tobacco permeates everything you own. Whether it is my clothing or my car, people could always smell me coming.

One of the first things I did when I quit was wash and clean everything. Now when I talk to smokers, I am so thankful I don’t smell like that anymore.

Extra cash

The amount of money I spent on cigarettes is unreal. I estimate I’ve spent about $12,000 on cigarettes since I was 18 years old. That is about the price of a new car, and quite a hefty fee just to get all of the health problems that go along with cigarettes.

Healthier lifestyle

It’s amazing all of the little health improvements that come with quitting tobacco. I used to lose my breath when I carried my youngest daughter up a flight of stairs.

Additionally, the ever present “smoker’s cough” is gone. I never noticed how annoying it was to cough all the time until I quit.

Role model

As a parent, there is a constant conflict between the things I do and things I want my daughters to do.

I eat a lot of fast food and rarely exercise. I would never let my girls live the way that I do. But as we all know, children imitate others and their parents most of all.

At least now, my girls know I quit smoking — which was terribly difficult at first — and hopefully they will never choose to pick up a cigarette.

Though that doesn’t cover everything, it certainly hits all of the main points.

I have to admit, I don’t think I could have reached this point without the readers. I have received several encouraging emails and phone calls from people and heard many stories of other’s successes with quitting as well as the consequences of those who never did. I sincerely appreciate the kind words from everybody.

However, it is not over yet. Six months is an amazing milestone, but I know it is always possible to slip back into old habits.

I believe the path to success lies in remaining constantly aware of my reasons for quitting in the first place and remaining vigilant about where I go and whom I spend time with. Being around smokers cannot force me to smoke, but there is no point in experiencing unnecessary temptation.

My next goal is to start eating better. I won’t forsake fast food, because it really is that good. But I could eat it less and certainly fit more leafy greens into my meals.

I plan to continue my journey to become a healthier human being, and I hope you all will remain supportive.

Andrew Akers is a University of North Georgia student, a member of The Times staff and lives in Clarkesville. Contact him at or 770-718-3413.