Two years ago today, I finished my shift and stepped out of the office. I was stood pretty much were I’d stood to take this photo. I lit up a cigarette and smoked it. It was a Pall Mall Red, my preferred brand. I liked the little capsule in the filter that you could squeeze near the end of the cigarette for a bit of a menthol blast. I smoked it. And then I put it out, and knew that I’d just smoked my last cigarette. I’d smoked my ‘last cigarette’ a million times before. And I knew full well every single time that it wasn’t really going to be the last, nob matter how good my intention. I knew I’d be puffing away on another cigarette within hours. A day at most – a thirty year habit isn’t easily kicked. But not this time. This time, I genuinely knew it was my last.
I’ve not smoked one since. I have an app keeping track of the statistics. I’ve saved £6,262.85 in money that would have gone up in a puff of smoke. That’s 14,616 cigarettes I haven’t smoked. My life span has (hopefully) been extended by 183 days.Immunity, lung function and circulation have improved 100%, apparently. My risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. I’m 20% of the way to reducing my risk of lung cancer to the same degree. I’m 13% of the way to reducing my risk of a heart attack to that of someone who never smoked. I may yet live to collect my pension. Also, and both Mrs P and I like this bit especially – I don’t stink of stale cigarettes.
If you don’t already know and are wondering how I managed to quit, then I’ll let you in on the secret. It’s easy, it really is. You catch a nasty virus that wrecks your lungs and forces you to make a choice – smoke or breathe. One or the other, you can’t have both. It turns out that you will likely choose to breathe. Nicotine patches helped a lot though. But the real secret, no matter what you think might help, is this. You don’t put another cigarette in your mouth, no matter what.