Saturday, 9 January 2010

No Smoking please!

Tonight at 9 p.m. will mark the 15th anniversary of my stopping smoking – quite possibly the best thing I ever did for my health! It was at about ten past the hour when I smoked my final cigarette and I haven’t had one since. For the first few weeks I wanted one. For the following two years I walked closely behind people who were smoking in the street so I could suck in some of their smoke. Now, fifteen years on I can’t stand to be anywhere near cigarette smoke, and I know that I will never smoke again.

I had my first cigarette about 40 years ago. Someone at school had been selling them and I bought a couple to try out. I smoked them in the half-built bungalow directly next to our house and they made me feel extremely sick and dizzy. Like most children, though, I persevered, and a couple of years later I used to share a packet of five Park Drive down in the park with my friend Richard, where we tried to look cool and pretended we had girlfriends. Most of my friends around that time smoked, as did most of their parents. Soon I had progressed to ten Embassy Regal a week, and eventually that became twenty, thirty a week…by the time I was a student at University I was smoking sometimes as many as forty a day. At that time, cigarettes were around 40p for a packet of twenty.

As I progressed through my twenties, I started running marathons – still smoking, but far fewer, and feeling like I wanted to stop. I succeeded once for eighteen months, but then ‘just had one’, and was soon back puffing at full strength. I tried nicotine patches, but as they decreased in strength, I simply supplemented my cravings by smoking!

What finally helped me succeed was a programme on Channel 4 on the 7th January 1995. The programme featured a man called Allen Carr, who had devised a method to help people stop smoking the ‘Easy Way’. In it, he held seminars with some long-term smokers, and I was very impressed to hear their testimonials at the end of the programme, extolling the technique’s virtues and praising its success. Intrigued, I went to the bookshop the following morning and bought the book, ‘The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr’. It was a short book, and I had finished reading it by 9 p.m. the following day. Whilst reading the book, I found I had become increasingly excited about stopping and couldn’t wait, so I smoked my final cigarette – and that was it!

Run the clock forward thirteen and a half years, and I was waiting in a hospital operating room to have an angiogram to examine the state of my arteries, after my recent diagnosis of diabetes and suspected heart attack. Thankfully, my arteries were declared ‘pristine’, and I attribute this entirely to the fact that I stopped smoking all those years before and had gone from strength to strength with my running. Had I continued smoking I would have been in much worse health, and with the prospect of having to stop smoking at a time I would no doubt have found extremely difficult.

So thank you Allen, you most probably saved my life, or at least extended it by many years!

1 comment:

  1. fab post alan. I have to admit that when I was doing the archaeology i was smoking like a trooper. Not good. I wouldn't say i was addicted, it's just something to do when digging yaknow. More a habit than anything. Tbh i dislike it immensly, the taste is disgusting and the cough is even worse. Before then I hadn't smoked in almost 6 months, and haven't since i finished the contract.