By Carol Bogart

I used to love to smoke. Snuck my first cigarette when I was about 8. Climbed up on the garage roof to smoke it. I didn’t get hooked on dad’s Lucky Strikes, though. No filter. ick.

In junior high at lunchtime, my pals and I smoked up a storm at the hamburger grill on State Street. Very chic. Very glamorous.

By the time I was a TV news anchorwoman/reporter working in Denver, I was up to two and a half packs a day. During a visit home to Ohio, my young niece watched me light up a Winston and wailed, “Aunt Carol! I don’t want you to ddddiiiiiieeeee.”

Well, I felt bad. And tried to quit. And couldn’t.

I soon discovered that I couldn’t even write whatever story I’d been assigned without my customary ritual: light a cigarette, place it in my cute little green ashtray, start to type. This was back before most workplaces banned indoor smoking.

I’d pitched my carton of cigarettes, planning to quit cold turkey. In the ashtray in my car, I was able to scrounge a few barely smoked butts. The quit smoking project terminated.

About a year later or so, when I’d decided to pull out all the stops in my quest to have a baby, I read that smoking can affect fertility. This proved to be the strong incentive I required.

I’ve always been the sort of person that, if you tell me I can’t, I damn sure will. So, instead of telling myself No Cigarettes! – instead, I said, “You can have a cigarette. But you have to wait three minutes.”

The hands on the clock seemed very slow. But – when the three minutes was up, the worst of the craving had passed.

It took three days to kick the physical addiction. I carried a pack of Winstons in my hand the entire time. At the end of the third day, the cellophane seal was gone, the foil was ripped, but all 20 cigarettes were inside, unsmoked.

Breaking habituated behaviors: smoking when I was on the phone, or driving, or after a meal, or after … whatever – that took longer. I guess it was about eight years before I could truthfully say I didn’t want a cigarette.

Every time I go somewhere today and see all of the restrictions smokers face, and after observing, first hand, a friend’s death from lung cancer, I’m never ever tempted to go back to smoking. Now if only I could convince my son to kick the habit.

Carol Bogart blogs at http://carolbogart.blogspot.com. Contact her at 3bogart@sbcglobal.net.

To read more about smoking’s health risks, visit the American Cancer Society site at www.cancer.org.

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