President Obama; Here’s How To Quit Smoking

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The coughing worsened when I went jogging. I would spit out yellow things that I don’t care to describe today. Then I found a marvelous solution. Cough medicine

[Publisher's Comment: On Quitting Smoking]

I would like to share with President Elect Obama my experience with smoking in the hope that it can inspire him to quit smoking as one of his New Year’s resolutions.

Many years ago I was a pack a day smoker when I was in College in Syracuse. Sometimes when I went out on Saturdays to party, I even smoked two packs a day. I also drank—quite a bit then.

Then one day I realized that I had a big problem.

Whenever I woke up in the morning I would cough incessantly. It bothered my then girlfriend. The coughing worsened when I went jogging. I would spit out yellow things that I don’t care to describe today.

Then I found a marvelous solution.

I started buying cough medicine. So every morning, when I woke up, I would take two table spoons of cough medicine. My coughing was controlled and I continued happily smoking. I carried my medicine with me in my book bag. I was very proud of my solution.

One day, I was completely broke, on a Friday. I would not have access to cash until the following Monday. I wondered how I would survive without food. As for cigarettes, I collected all the cigarette butts discarded around my room and lit up and smoked to the hilt, or the hilt of the hilt.

I was hungry so I collected all the pennies; from the floor, from under the bed, from drawers, from boxes, from clothing.

I went to the corner store and picked a loaf of bread and some milk and some canned sardines. But when I got to the counter and saw the packs of Dunhill Reds and the Marlboros behind the cash register; my knees buckled.

I returned the food, came back to the counter and asked for the Dunhill Red, then spread my pennies on the counter. The store owner looked at me for a couple of seconds.


"Come on man, you come here everyday," he said. "Take the cigarettes and take the food as well. Pay me next time."

I was elated. I got the food and the cigarettes; he even gave me my pennies back. I could buy more cigarettes before the week was out.

I lit up and took a deep puff. It didn’t hit me until after I had walked about three or four blocks.

I had been willing to starve for an entire weekend; when it came down to it, I had picked cigarettes over nourishment.

It was only then that it dawned on me how powerful and ugly an addiction cigarettes could become. I felt utterly ashamed. I wondered how the store owner had thought about me.

Yet, I did not quit smoking on the spot. It shouldn’t be done cold turkey if you ask me. I did stop buying cigarettes though, which in itself was not easy and I wrote "Last Pack of cigarettes I bought" and the date on that Dunhill pack.

Then on, I would ask people for cigarettes. But you can’t ask for 20 sticks a day. Naturally my consumption declined. Soon, I found that I could go days without a cigarette and even weeks.

One day I realized I’d gone months without a cigarette. I was now in control of the situation, and not the other way around as it is for most smokers I knew.

Although I last smoked over 20 years ago, I still have some of the attributes associated with past smokers; I can smell a lit cigarette, and a smoker, from a mile away.

As a former addict, I also know it’s not easy to quit, so I try not to be too judgmental. But I always share my story when I can.

I don’t miss smoking; especially the yellow stuff I used to spit out and the smell that lingered on my skin and on my clothes.

Best of all, I now have no urge at all; I am in control.

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