If you are a former smoker and want to share your story, email Andrew Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June will mark six months since I quit smoking. In preparation for that, I want to reflect on my past.
I do not remember my very first cigarette, but I know I was fairly young. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school, however, before I started using tobacco products regularly. Though smoking was my favorite, I used tobacco dip the most for the first year or so because it was easier to conceal from family and teachers.
From the very beginning, smoking was exciting. When I was a child, all I ever wanted was not to be a child, and tobacco made me feel like an independent adult.
For several years, it was fun. I never spent much time contemplating the negative health effects. I surrounded myself with other smokers and worked at places where smoking was common. It never seemed abnormal.
When I had my two daughters, I went through the extra pains to never smoke around them. But quitting rarely crossed my mind. The subject frightened me, and I already gave up before I even started.
So I decided to write this column. My hope was my stubborn pride and unwillingness to admit failure to you, the readers, would prove stronger than my desire to smoke. So far it has.
What I didn’t realize at the time I quit was smoking completely clouded my judgment when it came to tobacco. The first couple of months all I wanted to do was smoke. But shortly thereafter, I noticed how much better I felt and how much extra time and money I had.
I also realized I absolutely do not want my kids to smoke when they are teenagers. The most important thing I can do to prevent that is quit smoking myself.
All of these factors were small pieces to my defense system.
While I don’t want to get too cocky, I don’t think about smoking very often nowadays. I used to dread commuting to and from work because I would see all the gas stations and my mouth would start salivating.
Now, I fill up that time with podcasts and the news, which I look forward to. My free time is precious and I would rather spend it doing things to better myself than investing in future health problems.
I certainly eat more today than I did before I quit, but I like it. I genuinely feel like I can taste food better. If I gain a few pounds in the process, I’m OK with it.
I am extremely grateful to have made it this far and, with a little bit of luck and perseverance, I’ll make it to that six-month milestone.
In the meantime, if you are a former smoker and want to share your story, email me at email@example.com.
Andrew Akers is a University of North Georgia student, a member of The Times staff and lives in Clarkesville. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-718-3413.