By Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
Every word of this achievement is true and I can challenge any habitual smoker that he can give up the habit of smoking cigarettes/bidis/cigars, without anybody’s help and show that he has that will power in him to call himself a master and not a slave.
Do you have that will power in you? Then read this…and prove.
I was a heavy smoker between 1959 and 1979 – a pack a day. I had difficulty in breathing air into my lungs; felt my lungs were making wheezing music due to the presence of heavy mucus in my lungs, I could not exercise, felt my libido was slackening, memory power had gone down, I was getting irritated with small things, my family hated me because I was making them passive smokers, my youngest pet granddaughter of 2 years who always clung to me, had developed allergic bronchitis due to inhaling blue hazy smoke from the burning cigarette inside my room. Most of the time my mouth was stinking of stale smoke.
Am I right in doing this disservice to my loved ones, was the question that haunted me?
My position necessitated regular hour-long meetings with higher-ups in my office. Since I had this syndrome, urge to smoke, craving for nicotine, I used to excuse myself, go out, light a cigarette in a corner, have fast puffs, throw away half the cigarette, visit the toilet, clean my tongue, pop a minty to ward off the stinking smell and get back to the meeting. My colleagues used to wrinkle their noses and keep their kerchiefs to their noses. My superiors knew my smoking habit and kept me at a distance. I felt insulted.
These lifetime experiences made me think seriously as to why I have become a slave of mean thing like a cigarette, whereas I had earned a good name and fame as an achiever in my workplace and the society with my innovative thoughts and ability to thrive amidst chaos; I had proved that nothing is impossible. It became a passion for me to prove that I have that will power to say ‘No, I don’t need you, you silly cigarette, to hell with you and shouted
– “I am the master of my thoughts and will power; I have supreme control over my actions and needs.” I had to prove it to this damned cancer stick and decided to do it.
Then the pieces of the puzzle of why a smoker can’t give up smoking started falling into place. I took every minute of my craving for nicotine as a challenge and told myself that I am the master and not the slave.
I placed one cigarette and a matchbox with only one stick on the table and started doing my work on my system. The idea was to help me postpone the urge by looking at the only cigarette and one match stick that would give me an opportunity to smoke only once and then nothing afterwards. So, whenever my mind got triggered with the urge for nicotine and my hand reached out for the cigarette, I instantly became alert and reminded myself about not being a slave. Then I would control the urge, look at the cigarette on the table and by invoking my WILL POWER, would laugh at it and say loudly – “ if I burn you, you will burn me up if I don’t burn you, whom will you burn? You should know I am the master and not the slave” and again got engrossed in my work, had also switched on some soothing music and dozed off.
Woke up, had tea, instantly the urge to light a cigarette was about to become all-pervasive…but I reminded myself about the challenge, looked at the cigarette, took it in my hand, smelt it, felt some satisfaction, kept back the cigarette on the table and went back to work. Had lunch, a similar urge creped in my mind, look at the cigarette, did not even touch, put on some music, again dozed off. When I woke up it was almost 4 pm and tea time – again went through a similar act and felt some satisfaction about the urge to smoke was getting less and less and it was a great feeling. It was more than a few hours and I felt I was breathing freely, felt healthy and was not stinking.
To my surprise and satisfaction, as minutes/hours went by, I felt that my craving for nicotine was under my control and I had not reached out for a cig for more than a few hours; this very thought of not reaching out for a cigarette for more than 30 minutes, made me feel happy. “I had developed the will power not to become a slave.” This was the moment of truth and I congratulated myself and said ” …hey man if you can withstand the urge for a few hours, take every urge as a challenge and quit smoking forever”. Then I called my family members and in front of them crushed the cigarette and showed them that I have quit smoking. Got a lot of hugs and they shed tears with happiness. I told them no more bad smell in the house.
Another strong reason was the question of burning up my hard-earned money by smoking. I had already burnt a few lakhs of rupees and by quitting smoking one pack of 10 cigarettes a day, valued at a conservative average cost of Rs.100 per pack I am glad that I have saved Rs.15,62,400 in 42 years between 1979 and 2021
This victory made me smile and the smile has remained on my face and will continue forever because in 300 minutes I had given up the horrible habit of tobacco.
If I can do it, you can also. So, ‘Commit to Quit’ with your will power, help yourself to be healthy, save money, save trees and the environment. End result would be a drastic reduction in demand for all kinds of tobacco products, thus hitting the greedy profit-making tobacco industry that is killing people with its products.
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided smokers an opportunity to quit tobacco and live a healthy life. Therefore, let us be wise and stop spending money to spoil our own health. Our breathing oxygen is more important than inhaling smoke from cigarettes and bidis for dying an untimely death.
(The writer is Honorary Advisor on Tobacco, Cancer Patients’ Aid Association; Convener, Anti-Tobacco Forum)