The Fit Student—Butt Out!

Make your New Year’s resolution to butt out!  Quit smoking—before your blonde hair frizzes, your lush lips wither—and your lungs singe.

I smoked during grades six and seven.  Luckily, basketball, volleyball, soccer—sports of all sorts—saved my lungs.  Sadly, I restarted puffing in grade ten.   I’d carry two packs a day, one for myself, the other for the gang of black lungs I called pals.  My throat wheezed nonstop, whistling louder than Fred Astaire, and my nose dripped daily.

Unlike me, my little sister smoked like Marlon Brando.  She could blow smoke rings back in grade three.  When Mom found out, she stuffed a menthol smoke in my sister’s mouth, and then lit the nightmare.  To Mom’s horror, my sister inhaled.  Mom grounded my sister most of the year—most every year.

My first attempt to quit smoking, at age twenty-five, failed.  Why?  Whenever I’d nap, my soul would slip away, not into lullaby land, but into an abyss.  I’d awaken, unable to move—unable to open my eyes—until I’d start screaming.  After sixteen days of terror, I marathon-puffed a pack of Player’s Light.   Defeated, I chose life, not health.

That same year, I quit again, this time with Nicorette gum.  For the first week, I’d chew a gum every hour, twelve gums per day.  Each week thereafter, I’d reduce my gum intake by one.  But I still suffered, sweating—screaming—in my bed, shivering at the sight of each moon.  After twelve weeks, I beat the smoldering demon—for good.

A reason to quit, ladies?  No smoking makes you pretty.  Years ago, a beautiful young blonde I knew butted her last cig.  After several months, her skin glowed, her face flushed pink—and her blonde hair shimmered.  But she had a taste for wild men.  So, she dated a smoker and returned to puffing poison.  Slowly, her skin paled, her hair frizzed, her lips withered into zigzags.  Gross! Smoking draws out our inner hag.

Allan Carr shares secrets to quitting smoking in his bestseller book Allan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking:

  • Carr offers a “magic method of stopping smoking, which enables any smoker … to quit: immediately … permanently … without needing willpower … without suffering withdrawal symptoms … without putting on weight … without shock tactics, pills, patches or other gimmicks” (p. ix).
  • Step one to quitting? “Remove the reasons that we do smoke … once the desire to smoke has been removed, the ex-smoker doesn’t need to use willpower” (p. xiii).  Carr, in his book, dispels all reasons to smoke.
  • A key benefit to quitting? You stop a severe addiction: “Every drag of a cigarette delivers, via the lungs to the brain, a small dose of nicotine that acts more rapidly than does the heroin the junky injects into his vein” (p.  23).
  • Addicts tend to crave a full pack a day because of the nicotine levels: “Nicotine… leaves the bloodstream quickly…. There is enough nicotine in each cigarette to make the average smoker want a cigarette about every 45 minutes” (p.  24).
  • Don’t prolong or mask the pangs: “[don’t] try cutting down or using substitutes like candy or gum (especially substitutes which contain nicotine)” (p. 4).
  • Instead, quit at once and enjoy the pangs: “Instead of feeling fearful and anxious about pangs, embrace them. Say to yourself: ‘I know what this is—it’s the little nicotine monster dying’…” (p.  166).
  • The pangs will soon disappear: “It can take up to three weeks before your mind and body become fully accustomed to the absence of nicotine” (P. 163).
  • To sum Carr’s simple way to quit smoking, “1. Make the decision that you will never ever have to smoke again.    Don’t mope about it; celebrate” (p.  156).

Before New Year’s Eve, join a gym, get a makeover—and butt out, cold turkey!   Three weeks of pangs will be followed by freedom.  But don’t, like me, scream for months in the moonlight with nicotine gum.