In this piece, I will reveal a bit of my infamous smoking career without mentioning names as it may affect their political and social standing of some individuals. Shall leave that to them to reveal at their own choosing. I shall also revisit the details of my eventual success to stop smoking for good. I shall also describe the lure and ease of getting started. Afterwards, some lessons learnt will be laid out. Little did I know that I will be enough frustrated to ask; is it hard to stop smoking?
I started smoking at the age of sixteen. Just putting that sentence is not easy, given the shame it brings about considering all the money, well-being, years and respect I know I have lost due to my cigarette smoking addiction. At this time little did I know that the effort required to stop smoking was going to be a life-changing challenge.
Young and Experimenting
The very first time I smoked, I thought it was gross. I was not too fond of the taste, the smell and the nauseating feeling it gave me. We also had clans based on the brand of cigarettes we smoked.
I began my cigarette smoking habit on the street behind my high school, away from prying eyes, probably because I saw it as a way to be able to fit in with the more vociferous individuals in the school.
I was a regular teenager who was good at talking to people and, although not the life and soul of gatherings, I was never timid.
We didn’t have to wait for lunchtime to come as we often have many free periods; I would go to the park right by the school, which we later called school two. This is where we would sit or stand around in circles while smoking and talking politics and football.
It is not uncommon for people to change their brand choice (Camel, Rothmans, Bensons and the popular Marlboro).
I really enjoyed being in the company of friends and didn’t know how to stop. I figured that people would respect me for my consistency and choice if I stick to a cigarette brand. Strangely though, there was always one or two individuals who never smoked.
Difficult to tell what the reason was. They just couldn’t be persuaded to smoke. How I wished I could be like them.
Looking back, I know that I was not the only time waster in that park which felt that way.
More than ten years later, I found out that many friends were in the same situation and had started smoking for the same reasons at such a young age.
The ironic part is that we now have to walk away from groups or step outside when we need to smoke as adults.
The social connection we craved as teenagers we realize is now a nasty, expensive habit that many of us became desperate to quit.
Still, I did not stop smoking, not for lack of trying, but because I kept failing and found my self changing my brand every time I got back into smoking.
The best way to solve this problem starts with education, healthy coping skills and human connection. Engaging in social youth program too will help.
If I had had those things, my lungs and finances would look a lot different in my growing years and I wouldn’t have to ask “is it hard to stop smoking”.
Glad to say, about thirteen years since I began, I succeeded in stopping for good.
Nowadays, young people often see themselves as invincible, and invariably, I see them facing the same challenge — just wanting to fit in.
Regrettably, as the battle against cigarette smoking is being won, the tobacco companies are changing tactics by offering vaping products that come in familiar flavours (like milk, gummy bear, cotton candy, Doritos, Cola and mint ) and are easy to hide from parents and guardians.
These flavours are designed to disguise the dangers of smoking.
Unlike the Marlboro, Rothmans and Bensons, these flavours are made to smell nice and sweet on the taste buds!
It is no surprise that young people are attracted to vaping.
Reports say that there is an epidemic rise in vaping within the current younger generation.
Some kids have become disillusioned, thinking that vaping is safe.
In reality, e-cigarettes deliver a huge amount of nicotine, similar to cigarettes, which happens to be potent and addictive.
Almost seventy-five per cent of teenage smokers end up smoking into adulthood, just like me, even if they thought they would stop after a few years.
There is also the risk of different types of cancers and heart diseases from smoking.
In my late twenties, many of my friends who began to start families feel shame smoking in front of their kids for fear of setting a lethal example.
Is it hard to stop smoking?
In my mind, consider those young people are the most vulnerable to the ongoing targeting of the tobacco and vaping industries.
If only I knew then about the true cost of being a smoker and how challenging it will be to kick the habit, I never would have started.
I hope that stories like this and others will encourage more education aimed at younger generations.
They have a lot to gain and money to save by finding alternative healthier avenues for socializing, expanding their intellect and energies, and coping with stress.
Interestingly, many of the young people born after I gave up smoking could not comprehend it when I tell them this story, but my joy is it does help them understand the dangers of smoking.
Prevention is better than cure.
From my experience, the only way to stop kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction is not to sell the flavoured tobacco products that attract young people.
That way, they will never battle to stop smoking if they never started.
Does one wonder whether tobacco companies can reinvent themselves into an environment-friendly industry?
To answer the question – is it hard to stop smoking?
We have seen from this piece how I became ingrained in the smoking habit and, in later years, seen the folly of my addiction.
The problem is quitting nicotine is extremely difficult, but the good news is there is so much help out there to help anyone who smokes to quit.
I sincerely hope this story will inspire someone in a similar situation and willing to stop smoking.