Is one of your New Year's resolutions to try and quit smoking? Lots o' luck! I tried three times before I was really able to kick the habit but it was worth the sweat, pain and embarrassment.
I started as a kid in 1941 when I was about 10 years old. There was this old man named Mr. Bowker who ran a news and tobacco shop a few blocks from where we lived. I started out with a brand called Wings that came along with WW II and I think cost around ten or fifteen cents a pack. And I don't think it was illegal to sell cigarettes to minors then. By the time I got to college I was up to two packs a day and when I got married in 1953, I was a four-pack-a-day smokestack. I loved every puff and it was "cool " then to smoke. I went from Wings, to Herbert Tareyton cork tips, to Pall Mall and eventually tried and stayed with Marlboro.
A scary event around 1960 changed my life. In ten years, I had never missed a radio or TV show, but wound up spending two days in bed with a serious throat/chest cold. This got me thinking, especially because articles had started appearing about the possiblity of smoking as a cause of lunch cancer. I had a career, a loving wife and four kids at the time and they were dependent on me as the bread winner.
For the first dew days it was easy. I didn't feel very good anyway. But then the craving started and a couple of times I "borrowed" a smoke from a friend and eventually bought a pack to keep in the car. My wife also noticed bits of tobacco in my dress shirt pockets and we had a serious confrontation. This was embarrassing. I had no excuse. So I tried again and was doing fine until I had to fly to New York for an important interview. This was a big event in my career and I was nervous wreck and, of course, a cigarette would calm my nerves. The interview went well, but I was back taking more than just a few puffs a day.
In 1962 Sheila got pregnant again and this would be our fifth child. I was beginning to make good money. We had a lovely home and were leading an idyllic life, except for the fact that I was smoking again. Then, news started to leak out about an upcoming Surgeon General's report that was going to be devastating to the tobacco industry. It would strengthen the link between smoking and lung cancer with further proof of cause and effect. I'm not a stupid person - imprudent at times, but not stupid. I quit. That was more than fifty years ago and I'm well past the risk factor.
Filed under: Opinion