I remember the first cigarette I ever smoked. The first drag hurt like hell and I coughed and gagged for a good five minutes….then I tried again. I was twelve years old and with a small group of friends. One guy was actually a friend of my older brother, and it was he that offered me that first smoke. Had I known at that moment how I would feel today, I would have turned around and run like hell.
Instead of running away, I continued to try smoking until I was finally able to keep my lungs full. I actually thought I had accomplished something. Over thirty years later I am still smoking, and my addiction is powerful. It truly dominates my entire way of life. I would love to quit, and have tried many times without success. Although I know it is killing me, and realize that quitting will prolong my life my, the addiction is stronger than my reasoning and I continue to poison myself. This is a particularly hard pill for me to swallow because I have always been very strong willed and determined. These attributes have seen me through many challenges and have helped me achieve many goals. Overcoming my addiction to cigarettes has been the one thing that eludes me.
For many years I was in a career that demanded a great deal of physical activity. I exercised regularly with running as a big part of the routine. That career ended three years ago and the exercise ended along with it.
I haven’t run since then and my over all health has declined considerably. Before retiring from my old job I still felt that I was in pretty good shape. My weight was good, I was strong, and I had great endurance during all kinds of physical activity. Three years later and I don’t feel like the same man. My weight fluctuates, my strength has declined, and I tire easily. Shortness of breath is common and quite honestly, I often feel as if a heavy weight is crushing down upon my chest.
As an active person I was seldom sick. It was literally years between colds and bouts with the flu. Not the case these days. Lack of exercise coupled with my nicotine diet has reduced my ability to fight off illness and now I am sick more than I am healthy. Yet I continue to poison myself.
If you think the poison is overly dramatic you couldn’t be more wrong. The toxins in cigarettes are killers. Tar and nicotine are just the tip of the iceburg, especially if you what other substances you inhale with each puff.
Take for example Formaldehyde. While produced in many forms for a variety of uses, the one we most commonly recognize is its use in embalming human remains! I am sucking this into my lungs. As if that isn’t enough, cigarettes also contain Hydrogen Cyanide, which the Nazi’s used to kill millions in gas chambers. I am sucking that into my lungs!
Most people are familiar with Carbon monoxide. Well that’s in there too. If Carbon monoxide gas was leaking in your home and there was not adequate ventilation there is a good chance you could die. Simply go to sleep and never wake up. I am sucking this into my lungs.
Probably the worst though is Benzene. Also produced for use in many applications, it is most commonly used in the production of gasoline. It is also used independently as an industrial solvent. I am sucking this into my lungs!
The list goes, but my point should clear. Cigarettes are poison. A few of the above mentioned toxins, if ingested in their raw form, would put and to your life quickly, with no shortage of pain.
Non smokers reading this may be thinking that having this knowledge should be more than enough to make anyone quit. I wish that were case. Regrettably, my addiction is stronger than my reasoning. I know what it is I am consuming, and that each time I inhale I shorten my life, but yet I continue to smoke.
Health considerations aside. The financial impact of my addiction is staggering. I have done some simple math, the results of which not only surprised me, but deepened my disappointment in myself for allowing this habit to have such complete control over me. I smoke nearly two packs a day at an average cost of $4.25 a pack. That equates to $3,102.00(three thousand one hundred two) dollars per year. At the price I am now paying, over the course of another 31 years, I would spend right around $ 96,162.00. To put that in perspective, where I live that’s a nice two bedroom home. It’s over five times what I paid for my most recent new car purchase! Twenty-seven times what I paid for my last family vacation! In terms of groceries, at my monthly average, I smoke enough to buy to make approximately 2747 trips to the super market!
As I write this article, cigarette dangling from my lips, wheezing, coughing and feeling as if I have been kicked in the chest, I realize more than ever that I must do something to break my addictions’ hold on me. I have to muster more determination than ever before and once and for all, make a commitment to leave cigarettes behind me forever. For my health. To ensure that I am around to play with my grandchildren. To improve my finances. To simply live a longer happier life.