Thursday, July 26, 2007

Behench*d Sutta ...

Quitting smoking is damn easy. I have done it a million times

... only to catch it again. This is how I would summarize my efforts of quitting this smelly habit. I have been smoking since high school with the legendary Wills Navy Cut (WNC) being my poison of choice. Other brands came and went, but WNC was my steady girl.

Before we go further, let me assure you I am a health freak otherwise. My 72 inch tall (I wish i could say 'long' instead :P) frame weighs 75 Kg and I have a head full of hair, teeth still intact, agile limbs and an otherwise active lifestyle. I take my meals on time and I stay away from fizzy drinks and fast food. I do my daily routine of 60 push ups and shadow boxing in the morning which help me sleep at work. I stay away from women (not by choice) and take my 8 hours of beauty sleep (plus the doze at work). My only major health vice had been my addiction to the cancer stick.

This addiction started off with me just like 99.9% of all smokers, which is peer-pressure. As discussed as point 9 here, I always believed that my 'good boy' image was responsible for me not getting enough action with the women in high school. And the statistics didn't lie. All around me I saw guys with cool motorbikes and cigarettes hanging out with the women, while your's truly was trailing far behind on his Hero Ranger and getting bitten by dogs. I realized it would be easier to build my own bike than convince my dad that I needed one to be popular and so I decided to take the easy way out. I went for cigarettes. I don't know if it helped, but it sure burnt my frugal pocket money and my image went for a toss. Now I was a geek who smoked and that is not as cool as it sounds. Trust me on this one.

Enter Engineering School where almost everyone smokes. At this stage when most of us are busy doing 'higher studies' (the study of the effects of illegal substances on the human brain) smoking was considered a very tame habit. It was only during my final year I realized I had an addiction problem. Every time I picked up a newspaper or went online, I was plastered with researches and images of the ills of smoking and trust me, they aren't pretty. Till then, I always thought that I could quit this nasty habit anytime. I totally misjudged the intensity of my addiction to these deadly paper sticks. My first attempt lasted a whole princely 2 hours and I didn't even realize when I lit up my next stick!

The next attempt was a more serious attempt. But the road wasn't easy. I was living in a wing where getting a cigarette was easier than getting a bar of soap. I tried every method under the sun to help me cure myself. I tried yoga, read books on the subject, took up a hobby and even started attending classes. While all this had a positive effect on my grades, it didn't do much for my habit and I was back to it in 1 month. But I will have to admit that it does feel good when you don't smoke for a couple of days and the biggest factor for my failure was that at the back of my mind, I didn't really want to quit smoking. I justified myself saying that I will quit once I start working and leave my crazy lifestyle.

I was so wrong :)

Late working hours, crazy deadlines and even wilder colleagues made my mission so very hard. And to top it, my clients! Since I am in the gaming industry, I have to deal mostly with people from Asian countries and if you thought that I smoked, wait till you see the Koreans, Japanese and the Chinese smoke. They take it to the next level, despite the gory pictures of cancer victims on their packets. In contrast our “Statutory Warning: Smoking Is Injurious To Your Health” looks quite tame (click on the thumbnail to see what I mean). You can imagine the effect it had in me. While I nurture dreams of making it to the cover of Time Magazine, I definitely didn't want to end up as a picture of the ill effects of smoking on a cigarette packet. This time I had it for good. Now the resolve was firm and also the desire to father children, keep my hair and teeth and most importantly retain my lungs helped. I am off it for quite sometime now and I can't see myself going back to it again. I am surrounded by people who smoke and I hang out at places where smoking is very common, but I have been able to hold myself and I don't even think of it anymore.

Some useful pointers for people who want/trying to quit:

1. It doesn't really help score with the women. The smell drives them away (at least this is how I console myself for all these years of failure). Not scientific but is great for my fragile ego.

2. Try to quit for the right reason, which is for your health. No other reason is as compelling

3. The most common strategy of reducing your numbers till you even out is effective in the short term, it doesn't really help in the long term. Your mind still knows that you are going to have a smoke and so you don't really develop the will to quit smoking

4. When you have a craving, eat a fruit. It sounds corny, but it did help in my case. I think the extra energy gives you more strength to stay away :P

5. Keep count of the number of times you refrained from smoking in a day. Within a month you will notice the number dropping

6. Take up a physical activity. Once you work out your muscles and lungs, you won't have the heart to kill them

7. Floss your teeth. Studies have shown that people who floss stay away from smoking. I think the reason might be that if you floss, you take care of your health.

Reminds me of the poem “for want of a nail.. the battle was lost”. In my case the nail was a bike :)


Jugal said...

Once a smoker, forever a smoker! :D (till you get Cancer that is.) :P

One of my chain smoking roomies once said in his eternal wiseness: "Chhodna-wodna kuchh nahin hota hai... Bees baar chhodega, chaalis baar pakdega!"

And in another wise moment he had said: "Kaise chhodega? Saala dus kadam chal, tapri dikhta hai! Khaane ka paisa hota nahin hai lekin ek cigarette ka paisa nikal jaata hai!"

Cigarettes are the most available, cheapest and quite an occupying source of entertainment.

'Occupying' because another friend said, "If I'm working and working and I'm enjoying what I'm doing I've never felt like a cigarette because I feel occupied. Else I always feel like a stick between my fingers."

For more wisdom, watch: "Thank You for Smoking" :)

This comment comes from living with smokers for the last 5 years. Every hour that I am out of house, I have spent with at least 2-3 heavy smokers :) I meanwhile, I guess should be called a chain second hand smoker :D

Anonymous said...

I think life will be tough to handle if i quit....but thats strictly my case only;)

Neway i hope this piece of blog will really be helpful to all the smokers who wana giv up....
Kudos to Su
Keep it up..cheers:P

Divya said...

I have always been preaching my friends to quit smoking, or at least to cut down the number of cigarettes they smoke everyday. But even if they have tried to follow my advice, none of them has been really successful in achieving the desired objective -'To quit smoking'.

I am glad that there are people like you Sukamal, even if few, who take the initiative on their own to quit this nasty habit.

At the end of the day, it's all in our mind. It's completely on us to keep a check on whatever we think, feel or do.

To all the smokers: Just believe in yourself and tell yourself time and again the moment you get an urge to smoke, 'I have strong nerves and I can quit smoking'. might just help, or else keep Suku's blog in mind, whenever you go for that next cigy.

Cheers Sukamal!

Anonymous said...

"While all this had a positive effect on my grades..."

I am dying laughing here!!!


Anonymous said...

'the desire to father children'....touche! :)methinks if this makes even one person quit, buddy u won!!!

Karthick Gopal said...

Your a cancer-ian too hmmmm..
First few days are shit. Then it's about just not thinking about the what if i had a sutta...

But great work and congrats and now keep it this million and one'th time that you have quit.

Your heart, lungs, blood pressure and your central nervous system thank you much.

Beni Pegu said...


I am just thinking about my hopeless case. When Singapore's exorbitant prices and gory images couldn't help me quit, I don't know what else can.

Anyways point 6 sounds promising. Time to hit the pool!

Best wishes, bro. Wish you a smoke-free, and by extension, cancer-free life!

F0RS@K3N said...

made me think about the alanis song ... "the only way out is through ..." :)

Anonymous said...

This decreases the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and ultimately decreases the amount of oxygenated blood reaching the heart muscle. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, a substance that causes the adrenal gland to stimulate the release of a hormone that causes your blood pressure to rise abruptly.