It’s been a week since I stopped smoking. Whoa, what a nuisance that was in my life! I decided to write a post about it, try to raise some awareness and maybe empower some of our followers on their path to quitting too.
I started smoking in my 22nd year of age, when at university. It just felt so “hip”, sitting around the bars, drinking coffee, chit-chatting with my female university friends and “saving the world”. With a cigarette in hand, of course. That made me feel so much more special. (Now that I look back in retrospective – OMFG how stupid I was!)
It’s funny though, I always knew that smoking will represent just a phase in my life, from which I’ll move on in the future and leave it behind me. I always was doing sports (also semi-professional in my adolescence) and was quite well informed in the terms of taking care for your body; what’s more, I knew I couldn’t smoke while being pregnant, poisoning an unborn baby with nicotine and thousands other cigarette smoke compounds.
But still, I loved smoking (can’t say I didn’t, sorry! 😦 ) and so I smoked for 12 long years, with two pauses in between.
Thanks god, to this day I didn’t suffer any visible damage to my lungs, no visible smoking-related disease showed up. I just keep my fingers crossed that this is how it’s gonna stay in the future, too. I feel the consequences of smoking on my lungs, though: my lung capacity diminished (although the doctors tell me that this is due to not doing sports regularly, and it’s not connected to smoking – I still have a hard time believing them!), and in the last year I developed a morning cough. My lungs were trying to excrete the excess toxins through producing more mucus and coughing it out. Whatta pity, and all because I was being plain stupid.
Below you can see a pic with possible carcinoma development in our airways due to smoking.
I decided to stop after a trip to my doctor this April, which was actually not related to smoking. It just sobered me up about what I’m doing to my health – actually, how I was undermining my own health and bodily systems. Yikes. I also became increasingly aware about that with the development of morning cough in the last year; I wasn’t coughing every morning, but still. And I just knew that the time to quit smoking has come. My best try in describing this process is that I experienced a shift in perspective -about my health, life, and what do I want to do with the time I have left on this Earth. Sounds harsh, but that’s just the way it is.
How’s the legislation and cigarette pricing in Slovenia today?
When I started, you could smoke everywhere in Slovenia, even in closed public spaces (well, not to say that we were doing that actually). But smoking in bars was inevitable. You could get a pack of cigarettes for a really low price. Since then, and through transition of our country to democracy and also higher public health awareness, things changed for the better. For the worse for us smokers, but I was always advocating these changes, because I felt them in my heart. Smoking inside all closed public and working places was prohibited in 2007, the bottom age limit for purchasing and selling tobacco products raised from 15 to 18 years of age. Thumbs up, Slovenia! (From my eyes, the world’s perspective on tobacco use shifted, too, and I’m glad about that. As it was typical to be a smoker in the middle 20th century, so it’s typical to be a non smoker today.) Today, a pack of cigarettes in still not that pricy compared to other EU members (approx. 3,50€ in Slovenia), but our governments keep raising the taxes for cigarettes – again, I’m totally in for that!
What are the statistics?
I acquired the table of statistics from WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic Country profile Slovenia (2013):
I decided to show just the statistics of active smokers and not to include illness and mortality rates due to tobacco use. This doesn’t mean that the latter are not a reality though!
How did I manage to quit?
Well, I planed it just a little bit, but not too much. I knew that I wanted to stop, but wasn’t still firmly determined. One day I just bought lighter cigarettes and then went to even lighter two days after. I was usually smoking cigarettes with 0,6 mg nicotine, then went to ones with 0,4 for two days, and then on slims with 0,1 for two days. Then the date 1st of May came along and the evening before I said to myself that this was certainly a nice date to quit. And I didn’t light a cigarette next morning.
It didn’t go all smoothly all the time, no no. The days when I was minimizing the quantity of nicotine in my cigarettes, I was pretty irritating, a nuisance to myself (I usually don’t take it out on others), confused, non-centered, low on energy, lethargic. When I felt at the lowest, I thought to myself that I should quit that instant and not wait for x number of days, but thanks god, reasoning came to the rescue sometime after that. I wanted to minimize my nicotine (and other cigarette toxins) uptake gradually, so that I wouldn’t have a full blown abstinence syndrome the first day of quitting. And it payed off, at least for me.
So the day I quit I really didn’t notice any physical abstinence symptoms (like sweating, cold hands, trembling, etc.). Mental was a whole other story! 😉 I could say that the most important cigarette of the day for me was the morning one, followed by the one before going to sleep, followed by those smoked right after meals. The morning of the first day of quitting there was a full blown mental war going on in my head, and it was so hillarious! At times, I even got nervous because my mind just would shut up about “Hey, what do you say about a cig?”. Crazy! This question popped into my mind in at least 20 different forms, and my mind was shooting it out constantly, like once in three minutes. And, well, the “non-smoker me” answered: “No, you’re not going for a cig, remember? You’re a non-smoker now.” (We can call it also the super-ego in psychological terms. 😉 ) And then my “smoker me” replied: “Oh. Yeah, that’s true. No cig then.” (We could call this also my “id” in Freudian terms! 😉 ) And on and on it went. then, at one point, those thoughts just didn’t jump out that frequently. Next day was even easier. And oh my, the joy of the third day, when those thoughts were popping out even less! And so on, you get the point.
Well, on the third day of not smoking I fell really ill, so I can’t give you much useful info. I noticed to have more physical energy, was in a better mood overall. I was sleeping really crappy, but I can’t tell why (maybe also because of falling ill gradually). I’ll let you know about all positive effects I notice in an update, ok?
Last but not least – just to be clear and sum things up:
If you know someone that’s struggling with a thought to quit, pass on the link. It never does any harm to be in numbers. If you’re aspiring to quit, I hope this was somehow useful to you. Thumbs up, you can do it!
My warmest regards to all of you, and have a beautiful day! 🙂
Oh, and thanks to Pixabay for free images! I know you’re not asking for any credits, but I’m thankful for your work. Good work, guys!