Erin Lavery, Senior Supervisor, Service Delivery:
I can spot them by the words they choose.
These participants say things like, My husband says I should quit or, My doctor says that I should stop smoking before the surgery. They talk a lot about what people around them say they should do. They say should a lot. One thing they dont say is, I want to quit.
These people are a different kind of participant. They arent staring down their cigarettes with anger or determination. They are not tired of how much it has stolen from their lives. They feel pangs of fear or sadness when told to throw their smokes away by chastising co-workers and friends. These are the people who want to want to quit smoking.
Its hard to blame them. For many people I speak with, cigarettes are more than just tobacco or a nicotine fix. They are their best friend, their social support, their distraction, and a way to calm their nerves. Their packs smell like their mothers or grandmothers and hold memories of childhood or long summer days. Each inhale makes them feel closer to calm.
One thing that these participants usually dont realize is that they are not on the sidelines watching other people battle this addiction. They are beginning to fight it as well. They are not far away from making a change. They are walking- sometimes slowly- to the front lines. Wanting to want to quit is the first step in going smoke free.
Nearly everyone who has quit came to a point when he or she looked at the choice to smoke and saw that smoking didnt match up with the way they wanted life to be. Smokers often realize the consequences and still didnt want to let tobacco go. Love the cigarettes. Fear the cancer.
In this age of mass media campaigns and health education in schools, youd be hard-pressed to find someone who smokes and doesnt know what the cost can be: hundreds to thousands of dollars in annual expenses, years of life, the chance to know their grandchildren, energy. The list goes on and on. They know that if they dont let go, they could lose so much.
Its that wisdom they hold that will lead them to one day realize the cost simply isnt worth it, that maybe other things can fill the void, and that maybe a void is better than the alternative. And when they make that change, it is so exciting because they usually find something they didnt expect: quitting can be wonderful.
Quitting tobacco is about more than avoiding terrible diseases or saving some money, although both are clearly important. Quitting means taking back control of your life. It can make you feel powerful. It can prove that you are able to do things that didnt even seem possible. Quitting tobacco isnt just about freedom from nicotine. Its about freedom from hiding the relapses, from breaking those promises to quit, and from choosing in lean years between cigarettes and the things you need.
So, to those of you out there kicking around the idea of quitting, welcome. Youll get there and youll love it.