I smoked my first cigarette in 2002.  We were drinking at a college party and I thought, "What the heck, I'll try a smoke."  One thing lead to another, and like it does for so many people, I was hooked within a few weeks.   At my worst, I was smoking a pack and a half a day. 

I was young and I thought I had plenty of time to quit.   Quitting turned out to be just as hard as everyone said it would be.  My first real attempt was in 2005.  I had only been smoking for a few years, but the physical dependence was strong. I've heard before that you only need to be smoking for a few months for it to be just as hard to quit as a 'seasoned' smoker.

The first time I tried to quit smoking I lasted for about 3 days.  I remember feeling physically sick, irritated, angry, and all around pissed off.  It was terrible.  I then slipped into smoking little cigars, convincing myself that this was better.  Within a week, I was back to smoking cigarettes.

I tried several times over the next few years to quit.  The longest I ever went was a few days, but I found my biggest obstacle was the urge to smoke when drinking alcohol.  I would be doing great, and then I would have a couple of beers and voila, I'd smoke half a pack.  Then I'd just jump right back into it.

I kept trying to quit, and I got to the point in the last few years where I would only smoke when I drank.  I thought that was good, but then realized I have a couple of drinks at least a few days out of the week.  So I was essentially still a smoker.  I was smoking about 3 packs a week.

What finally pushed me to quit altogether was the fact that I was starting to notice harmful effects.  My tongue would get dry, irritated, and have a white coating from time to time.  It hurt.  It looked bad.  It was always after a night of smoking.  I was finding that I was having a hard time catching my breath after walking up a hill, or up stairs.  I'm a big guy, but not that big that I should be gasping for air.  My voice was getting weak.  While broadcasting, the end of my phrases were getting breathy.  My voice was being affected.  I would try to take a deep breath, and I would feel the tightness in my airways.  I would wheeze when I laughed.   It was time to just quit.  I knew I could.  I basically already had worked my way down to just one crutch... smoking when drinking.

It happened to be on Halloween when I smoked my last cigarette.  I didn't even plan on it that way.  I didn't smoke the cig and say "This is my last one."   It wasn't until the next day when I decided not to go buy a new pack.  Instead, I went out and bought a decent e cigarette.  Not one of those cheap disposable ones, but a starter kit.  I got the "e-juice" with hardly any nicotine in it.  Because I didn't really need the nicotine.  At this point, I just needed something to do with my hands when I'm drinking.  I needed that mechanism.

So if I was out having a couple of drinks and got the urge to smoke, I would pull out my e cig and take a few puffs.  It saved me from buying or bumming a cigarette.   I don't use the e cigarette often, and only as an emergency if I'm having a cocktail and the urge hits.   I don't think e cigs are a miracle cure.  I'm sure they are somewhat harmful to you.   I've read up about them, and I do believe they are safer than cigarettes.  I'll go on about the difference between the two in another post.  But for now, it worked to keep me from going back.

I feel better and I breathe easier.  My voice is stronger, and I no longer gasp for air like I was before.  I don't snore at night anymore, my sense of smell is improving, and I don't stink link a cigarette anymore.  It feels pretty good.  Just yesterday I was cleaning out a toolbox in my garage and I found a half a pack of camel lights.   Without even hesitating, I threw them in the garbage.  That's never happened before.

I guess if I had any advice to someone who's trying to quit smoking is to keep trying and find a method that works for you.  Don't give up.  I tried at least 10 times to quit smoking before I finally had the willpower.  I'm not gonna say I've won the battle, because it's been over a month.  But I'm taking it a day at a time and I'm optimistic about the future.

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