Friday, April 6, 2012

Cigarettes by Betty Lockwood Ciociola

I quit smoking. Again. This is the third, maybe fourth time I've quit and gone back to cigarettes. I'm not talking about quitting for a few weeks, nor even a few months. I've quit at least twice for a number of years. I've always gone back to smoking.

I started smoking cigarettes when I was thirteen years old. By the time I was fourteen, my parents were buying my cigarettes. They were both smokers, and in the early 1970's it wasn't frowned upon as it is today. Of course,we didn't have the facts we do today about smoking and the risks inherent with it. Personally, I don't remember giving it a thought.

Smoking was also a lot cheaper! I sometimes would use my lunch money to buy a pack of cigarettes. fifty-five cents. I did quit when I was 17. I became pregnant with my daughter, and didn't smoke throughout my pregnancy. I started again the day after she was born. I was smoking two packs a day. I would open one in the car on the way to work, and the other in the car on the way home. This was at a time when one could smoke just about anywhere – bars, restaurants, offices. I had an ashtray on my desk at work, as did anyone else who so inhaled.

I was twenty-five the first time I made up my mind to quit. I remember thinking that, if I continued on, by the time I was forty I'd not be able to breath. So, I stopped. Cold-turkey, mind-over-matter. I lasted until I was thirty-one, six years. I was going through a divorce and my life was changing. I turned to cigarettes again.

I smoked for nine more years, until I became pregnant with my son. This time I managed to stay cigarette-free for five years. I started again slowly, but eventually built up to a pack a day habit.

Cigarettes were getting more and more expensive not to mention the health concerns – chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer. I decided I had to quit. I tried going cold-turkey. This method had always worked for me in the past. It certainly wasn't working for me this time around. I'd panic if I didn't have a pack of cigarettes. I would wake up in the morning determined that today was going to be the day I quit, only to break down and run to the store. I was angry with myself for my lack of will-power. I finally broke down and went on a medication to help me quit. It worked. In December of 2010, I quit for the fourth time in my fifty-two years.

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