Get excited about quitting smoking!

sun-32198_1280

In an earlier post, I spoke about conviction, courage, and determination. Those are the three required pillars of success to quitting smoking. You have a solid reason to quit, you’re capable of standing up to the difficulties of quitting, and you have a driving force to reach your goal. But, are you excited?

If I had known when I first quit what I know today, I would have been excited! But, like most people, I saw quitting as a necessary evil in order to reap some nebulous benefits in the distant future. Sure, I had the three pillars in place and I felt confident that I would manage to quit successfully. I even acted quite cockily about the challenge, and yet I wasn’t excited. If anything, I was simply determined to beat the addiction. I didn’t know what to expect.

It’s hard to get excited when you can’t imagine the outcome of a situation. As a smoker, I lived with all the typical burdens of smoking; having to maintain a supply of cigarettes, spending money to keep the habit, dealing with health issues, seeing brown tar stains everywhere in my house, worrying about burning embers, the effect of second-hand smoke on my pets etc. At the time I wasn’t really aware that things could really feel any different. It was more a question of thinking “wouldn’t it be nice if…”

Now I can say with no uncertainty that “I am so excited that I no longer smoke!”  I don’t need a supply of cigarettes, I don’t spend money on smoking, I feel a lot healthier, my house is clean, and my pets seem a lot happier (and I feel happier that I’m not inflicting smoking on them).

I know it’s not easy to imagine being excited about quitting, and I don’t expect anyone to be jumping for joy as they go through the process. Still, bear in mind that one day you too can feel excited about the results.

Join the Five Million Club

T.Voekler 1994-02-02

When you first quit smoking you might feel somewhat alone in your goal or that you are one of only a few people attempting to rid yourself permanently of tobacco. You might know some people in your entourage who have already tried. They may have succeeded or not, but overall it can seem hard to imagine that there is a large population of successful ex-smokers. This feeling may be compounded by all the talk regarding how difficult it is to quit smoking, and availability of a vast array of quit smoking aids, tools, books, etc.

One issue to bear in mind is that there is a lack of visibility of ex-smokers, because they blend in seamlessly with everyone else who doesn’t smoke. They don’t go around being vocal about the fact that they quit smoking, especially after enough time has passed for them to no longer care about it. Ex-smokers are also notably absent on quit smoking forums, for the same reasons. They tend to stop posting once they have reached the 1st yearlong milestone and only come back to make one post for each successive year of having quit if they continue to post at all.

I’ve also known some people in the corporate world who prefer to hide the fact that they once smoked, especially in the upper echelons of management. I imagine the same is true of other environments outside of work. Smoking can be seen as a weakness better not discussed; even if it is a thing of the past.

So, where are all these successful ex-smokers? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the US alone, the number of smokers has decreased significantly over the past several years. It went from 20.9% of the population in 2005 (61 million) to 17.8% of the population in 2013 (56 million). That’s 5 million people who have quit in 8 years. I looked at the statistics for several other large country populations, and the trend is similar. Smoking is on the decrease worldwide.

So the next time you wonder where all the ex-smokers have gone, it is probably that just like you, they went to join the 5 million club!

e-cigarettes – What I really think…

e-cigarette

e-cigarettes with a lower-case ‘e’, because it’s trendy. They’re everywhere, but why? Partly because traditional cigarettes are less and less acceptable in today’s society, partly because e-cigarettes seem attractive for various reasons, and partly because government policies about e-cigarettes are still weak.

Down with pungent tobacco smells and up with silky-smooth flavors such as strawberries, peach, cranberry, vanilla, lilac, lavender, or if you prefer a more manly flavor, how about mocha, dark chocolate, pipe tobacco, or leather? You get my point.

There’s never been a better time for unscrupulous businessmen and budding marketeer’s to start fobbing off ‘safe alternatives’ to good old tobacco and nicotine. Worse, there’s never been a better time for cowboy entrepreneurs to recruit vulnerable youngsters into starting on a journey of recurring revenues for the manufacturers. Convert the wannabe quitters and engage the youth the while they’re still young enough!

So, while I sit here quietly trying to convince a few people to quit smoking tobacco, I find that there is a bigger problem looming on the horizon. ‘Big business’ is now manufacturing, marketing and advertising dubious alternative products to smoking traditional tobacco, and quite successfully I might add. There’s plenty of money to be made in this new industry which is largely based on a known model: get ’em hooked and reel ’em in.

Hopefully, like me, you’ll realize that this is all a passing phase. The governments will step in. They will be informed by the appropriate scientific bodies of the dangers of smoking electronic cigarettes. There will be strict regulations put in place, and some people will no doubt go to jail for fraudulent activities. Finally, e-cigarettes will become safer over time.

In the meantime, I will go on helping those who wish to quit traditional cigarettes. Just don’t ask me if vaping e-cigarettes is a viable solution to quitting smoking. In my opinion it is not, because it is simply replacing one addictive habit with another.

Who I Am and Why I’m Here

ball-605592_640

This entry was inspired by The Daily Post.  I was going to call it “Why Should I Care?” but I’ll get to that in a moment.  The fact is, both titles would have been appropriate for today’s blog, so I’ll start by saying who I am and why I’m here.

Firstly I’m an ex-smoker. I can say that openly here, because my blog is all about quitting smoking. I wouldn’t expect to get much mileage out of that statement at a job interview. “And what other dubious talents do you bring us today, Mr Kross?” they might ask.

I’m a father of two teenagers and an international businessman, or rather I was a businessman. I’ve worked for ‘big corporate’ on two continents and across multiple countries. I’ve had a lot of responsibility and earned some good money. But, I don’t really care for that. I’ve never really craved much money or possessions. Sure, I enjoy living life in relative comfort, but that will always be enough. I want to do something different with my life now.

For several years I’ve wanted to write. Recently I was made redundant and I now have that opportunity. I’ve already hidden a few topics up my sleeve, with 52 years of life experience and its ups and downs to bring forth. But for now I shall be writing about quitting smoking. Why? Because I think it’s important. I didn’t used to think that.

I used to think that people should be able to do what they want, so long as they’re not breaking the law or causing harm to others. If someone wants to mess their life up by doing drugs or alcohol, having risky sex, or slowly killing themselves by overeating or smoking, then that is their problem, right? I thought the same of my own situation.  It’s my right to inflict damage upon myself, so long as it’s not illegal and not harming anybody. That was a mistake.

One day not so long ago, I was watching TV with my father.  It was a program about loan shark businesses, companies who advance money in exchange for huge financial repayments. The question that came up was whether these companies should be regulated by the government. I said that people shouldn’t be so stupid as to get themselves into such a situation in the first place. My father argued that people are not always aware of what they are getting themselves into, and that taking a loan with one of the sharks seems like the most viable solution to them at that time, hence the need for outside control. Touche.

Also not long ago, I was talking with my partner about self-inflicted harm.  My point was once again that if someone wants to be reckless and potentially kill themselves, then so what? My partner immediately pointed out that the person harming them self was only a part of the whole equation. Everybody else in that persons entourage would also be affected. My thinking was clearly that of an egotist. Strike two!

Both of those situations struck a chord with me. I wouldn’t say that they were monumental revelations, but they were certainly enough to shift my thinking in the direction of trying to help people who might not otherwise be able to help themselves, and to be more empathetic toward those who find themselves victims of another’s reckless behavior.

Now you know a little about “who I am and why I’m here.”  Hopefully, over time you will learn more about me and about my goals in helping others to quit smoking. In the meantime, to answer the question “why should I care?” I have always cared, but I care even more now.