PEI

This guy quit smoking after more than 50 years, and he says you can too

Tuesday is World No Tobacco Day, and one P.E.I. man who smoked for almost 50 years has a message for Islanders: "Never quit trying to quit."

'I got a life back,' says John Ford

John Ford, 64, of Tyne Valley, P.E.I., quit smoking two years ago after more than 50 years. (Canadian Cancer Society )

Tuesday is World No Tobacco Day, and one P.E.I. man who smoked for more than 50 years has a message for Islanders: "Never quit trying to quit."

John Ford, 64, of Tyne Valley, P.E.I., smoked since he was eight or nine years old, and is now helping the Canadian Cancer Society to get the message out that support is available to help people quit. 

He told me if I didn't quit smoking soon, I wouldn't live to see the [oxygen] tank— John Ford, former smoker

"It took me a long time." he said of quitting his pack-a-day habit, noting he tried to quit well over 100 times.

Ford had asthma and shortness of breath from COPD — Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease — so severe he could hardly walk or carry on a conversation, he said.

"I was worrying terrible about having to go on the oxygen tank, so I went down to see my lung specialist — he told me not to worry about it," said Ford.

"He told me if I didn't quit smoking soon, I wouldn't live to see the tank."

But it still took Ford another year to quit.

The Cancer Society has a variety of supports for those looking to quit smoking.

Patched up

Ford credits nicotine patches with helping him to quit for good two years ago. Even though he'd tried them before, this time was it just took, he said. Every time he feels a craving, he grabs a jelly bean. 

He goes to physiotherapy, is using an exercise bike and has changed his diet  believing now that he quit smoking, he can do other good things for his health. 

"I got a life back," Ford said proudly. "It wasn't even a life, it was just existing."

Breaking an addiction to smoking is extremely challenging, and the cancer society wants Islanders to know there are many supports available through its P.E.I. office.

The society's free non-judgmental support service the Smokers' Helpline works with people to develop skills to deal with cravings and triggers, and can be reached at 1 877 513-5333.

"I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" Ford said, noting he's looking forward to an active retirement from oyster fishing. 

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