Nfld. & Labrador

Cold Turkey: After 22 years, I'm quitting smoking

Quitting cigarettes cold turkey will kickstart a new phase of my life, writes guest columnist Carla Crotty.

Carla Crotty documents her transition to a smoke free life

Carla Crotty decided to quit smoking in October. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

It's been just a few days since I last smoked a cigarette.

My last cigarette.

DuMaurier regular — that's my brand.

It's one of the most expensive kinds you can buy. This princess is having nothing to do with smoking "no name cigarettes".

For 22 years, with a few reprieves along the way, I have stuck with that little red package of Imperial Tobacco.

I have been a smoker since I was 13 — that's more than half my life. Outside of family and close friends, it's the longest relationship I've ever had.

That makes this occasion a bit more sad. Another relationship bites the dust.

The first time 

I had my first smoke when I was completely alone. I didn't discuss it with anyone. I wasn't coerced or pressured by anyone. I knew full well at the time how wrong it was.

It was on a night when my grandparents' home, across the street from my own, was full of people.  I managed to sneak a king-sized cigarette from my great aunt's pack. I knew I wouldn't be missed by anyone.

I snuck away, hid in my own backyard and lit up my very first smoke.

I don't remember hacking up a lung or anything, but I don't think I thought it was the best thing ever. I'm pretty sure I was confused, more than anything, about what the big draw, so to speak, was.

Why quit now? 

My decision to stop smoking came about just as randomly as my choice to start. I've been thinking hard about it during the past couple of weeks. I haven't been sure if I really want to quit.

Then one night last week, I put out my last cigarette.  I said 'shag it, I'm not buying another pack.'

Just like that, I quit smoking.

Don't get me wrong, I've got plenty of reasons for deciding to break up with DuMaurier after 22 wonderful years.  First and foremost, I want to set an example for my three sons. As they get older, it's harder to hide the fact that I

smoke. Let's face it, I THINK I'm hiding it but I know they know. So, I'm definitely quitting for them.

Not so cool

In the years since I picked up the "dirty habit," society has decided that smoking isn't as cool as the movies make it it out to be.

Smoking has sort of become the new skeety. People turn their noses up at smokers in public now. Actually, they probably do that because of the skeetiness and the smoke.

And of course, I don't want to risk my health, or my looks.

Then there was my social life. Fewer and fewer people I know smoke. It's getting easier not to smoke when I'm around friends because many of them no longer smoke. 

And the money! I haven't tallied up the thousands of dollars I've spent on cigarettes, but I'll eventually do the math. I know I don't want to waste any more money on them. 

My first non-smoking day was really emotional. I woke up and let the world know through social media that I had quit smoking.

A public announcement will make me accountable for my actions, and make me less likely to fail.

Twelve hours into my day, I was crying, partly because I wanted a cigarette. Two hours later, that desire had completely subsided.

At the end of it, I was almost ready to pass out from exhaustion.

Still, I got through that first day. And the days since. Done and done.


Carla Crotty is a freelance writer in Conception Bay South.


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