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Mary was inspired to quit smoking

Sometimes all it takes when times are tough is to know that you're not alone in your journey.

I am 71 and I got into the habit of smoking when I was around 18.

Like most of the youngsters I began smoking, it was definitely giving me a thrill and at that age when one gets into the habit he feels manly.

It all started in a small way - secretly smoking - especially making sure that I would never be caught by my strict parents. Gradually my smoking increased until I became addicted. I was studying architecture which involved maths. During my grad exams I just could not solve any questions even though I was very good at the subject - so I went to the loo and had a smoke and then returned to solve all problems with ease and scoring high marks. Such was the effect wherein I became a slave to the habit.

Time passed on and a few cigarettes now lead to packets. When abroad I smoked almost 30 in a day and I knew I had to kick the habit but just couldn't. I smoked for almost 23 years and one evening I was watching a program on BBC about a doctor who smoked for 10 years and how he kicked the habit. He mentioned that he did not smoke for 1 day and since he succeeded he took it over to the 2nd day. Having not smoked for 2 days inspired him to make it 4 and then to 8 and so on. Until he ultimately kicked the habit at times he craved he would substitute either a chocolate or a toffee to control the urge for that moment until he could be in control again.

This registered in my mind and after about 2 years, one afternoon after my lunch I just threw  out a half smoked cigarette. I had about 15 cigarettes left with me, which I handed over to my colleague. Informing them that I quit. He just laughed it out and said that he would keep them with him for 10 days challenging me. I also told my boss who was also a heavy smoker and we always smoked together. However he used to purposely smoke in front of me - not discouraging, but encouraging me to resist the temptation. Whenever I was craving a smoke, which was very frequent during initial stages for a very long period of time - I used  to pop in a cardamon, or a peanut in my mouth to resist the craving - inspired by the doctor.

Yes it was near impossible to kick the habit. I used to scratch the walls, bang my head on the walls, get angry, arrogant and irritated but still resisted the urge. Slowly and steadily I got over the habit. It took almost 7 years, as they say 'seven year itch'. For the urge to totally receeded but not die, I passed the toughest exam - to get over the cravings.

I did not inform my family and my wife, noticing something was strange in me though she never ever thought of my quitting. After almost 8 months or so she observed that I was not smoking and broached the subject - which I confirmed that I am trying my best. Finally I knew that I won and its now 30 years since I touched a cigarette. I still remember the date when I lit my last cigarette - 27 July 1986. I smoked for almost 23 years - the best brands available in the world.

I believe nothing is impossible and it is ultimately willpower which helped me. My health improved, my appetite grew and I became more active. Even now at the age of 71, I still exercise a lot. Certainly smoking would not have helped me to be what I am today. I want to let all smokers know that you will succeed, when you have the will. SO please give it up, do not take it to your grave!

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