Archive for the ‘Smoking’ Category

Heard of the “Jennings effect”?

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

Apparently, smoking cessation programs all across the USA are experiencing higher than normal volumes of phone calls and involvement from people who want to quit smoking in the wake of Peter Jennings’ death from lung cancer.

Yes, we’re obsessed with celebrities, and yes, it’s kind of eye-rollingly silly that it takes someone like Peter Jennings dying from a smoking-related disease to kick off this trend, but hey, whatever works, I’m absolutely for it.

Personally, in the eight-and-a-half years since I kicked the habit of smoking cigarettes, I’ve probably smoked about twenty cigarettes at parties and in other social contexts, but I’m determined to make it a far smaller quantity over the next eight-and-a-half years. The fewer, the better.

How about any of you? Still smoking? Thinking of quitting? There’s no time like the present.

What I can tell you is this: quitting won’t be easy — nowhere near as easy as lighting up. And you may fail the first few times you try to quit. I certainly did. It took me 12 attempts to really kick the daily habit. But with each failed attempt, the key is to determine what made you fail, and figure out how to counteract that the next time you try to quit. For me, most of the obstacles were routines in which I was very comfortable and in which smoking played a relaxing part. But once I made a conscious effort to find alternatives (munching baby carrots as I walked to work, for example) or to avoid the obstacles altogether for a while (staying out of coffee shops late at night, where I would drink coffee and smoke cigarettes for hours), I began to find the cravings much easier to overcome.

You will, too.

I can also tell you this: they say healing begins right away, but some things take time. Although I could run and play sports just fine while I was smoking, for several years after I quit smoking, I had a terrible time breathing while playing sports or running. I had very little endurance whatsoever. That must have been my lungs really putting an effort into healing themselves, because now I’m a stronger runner than ever, and I can run for hours without feeling winded.

You can get through it, too.

If you’re ready, please give it a try. If you’re smoking now, you’ll be through the worst of it and ready to enjoy your new, smoke-free life within weeks or maybe a few months. Imagine the Christmas season (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Solstice or whatever you’ll celebrate) this year, when you’re feeling healthier than ever, and knowing that you’re well on your way to reducing your risks of coronary disease and lung cancer.

Wouldn’t that be a nice gift to give yourself?