by Airman Ryan Conroy
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
I have been slowly killing myself for the past three years.
I intentionally inhale toxins that destroy my lungs and heart.
I smoke cigarettes.
But, I’m quitting — again.
According to the Aviano Air Base Health and Wellness Center tobacco cessation class, the average smoker attempts to quit five to seven times before achieving success.
This will be my third attempt.
To this day, I still tell people I smoke to be social and network. But, the truth is that I like the feeling of breathing in the smoke and letting it all go. For me, smoking may be the easiest way to reduce stress. It’s an instantaneous relief. It also has the most severe consequences.
The Center for Disease Control states adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for more than 440,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
My grandparents were examples of those deadly statistics. My grandfather died of emphysema and my grandmother of lung cancer. My mother described their experience as “suffocating to death.” Yet, those important facts never really bothered me because they never adversely affected me.
What finally influenced me was realizing I would be out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs, the stares and comments I would get from nonsmokers and the smell that perpetually permeated every piece of clothing I owned. None of these characteristics are attractive to say the least. This is the motivation that I hope will drive me throughout the rest of the quitting process.
Recently, the first lieutenant in my office began to comment to my supervisor and I every single time we would go for a smoke break. “You know you’re killing yourself, right?” and, “Seriously Airman Conroy, you need to smoke again?”
She encouraged me to go to the HAWC for a class on quitting smoking, and finally, I gave in. During the class, the instructor spoke about the health risks and consequences, shared information on nicotine replacement therapy and provided every Airman in attendance the tools they needed to quit for good.
I realized I needed a life change in order to accomplish this goal.
Instead of smoking every time I get a little stressed out, I intend to do a few sets of pushups. The dollars I would have spent on cigarettes are now going into a travel fund. I figure the little rewards will help me maintain my mental strength through adversity.
When I hit my lowest moments, and desperately crave a smoke, I know that I have a support system in the office through my supervisor, who decided to quit with me, and my first lieutenant who couldn’t be happier for the both of us.
I don’t want to end up like my grandparents — because let’s be honest– smoking is just a really slow suicide.
See original article here: