By Neena Strichart
I have a very important announcement to make … as of yesterday I have lived three years as a non-smoker. Or, as they say in some circles, “I am three years smober.”
I started smoking as a young teenager. I did not succumb to peer pressure, as some might think; instead, I believe I started smoking as a way to emulate my father. I can’t remember Dad without a cigarette in his hand. He smoked non-filter brands like Chesterfield Kings or Pall Mall, and sometimes rolled his own, which not only gave him the nicotine he craved but turned his fingers a lovely shade of burnt yellow. Yuck. He was a very handsome fellow and was always perfectly groomed. It was a shame that he always sported a stale tobacco odor. Our house was also under a yellow haze with a smoky stench. Although my non-smoking Mom was (and still is) a wonderful housekeeper, the inside of our windows were hazy and our drapes and carpets held a special kind of stink. We didn’t notice it at the time. No one really did. Back in the 50s and 60s, EVERYONE smoked. It was glamorized in the movies and on television. Heck, even Lucy and Ricky smoked on I Love Lucy.
After several attempts to quit throughout the years, I believe that with three years of no smoking under my belt, I have finally done it and I believe I won’t ever pick up the habit again. How did I do it? I had to find the right motivation. My reasons for quitting in the past had been pretty generic: not wanting to spend the money on cigarettes, hating the way my clothes smelled, feeling ostracized by non-smokers, fear of cancer, tired of getting pneumonia and bronchitis, knowing my smoking distressed friends and family members, etc. Although they are all valid reasons and may be motivators for others, none of them worked for me.
I have written before about the one factor or motivator that finally struck a nerve with me, and I feel this is a good time to repeat the story:
About four years ago, I found out I had periodontal disease. It was painful, and I was scared to have to undergo the cutting and suturing necessary to treat the condition. Thanks to a friend, I went to Dr. Gregg in Cerritos, who put me through some pretty intense and very costly laser dental/gum procedures– and I haven’t had any problems since. How is that a motivator? Dr. Gregg told me I’d have to go through the whole thing again if I didn’t quit smoking, and if I decided to keep smoking and NOT have the procedure repeated, I would probably lose my teeth. Now there’s my motivator. With the genetics in my family (I should live to be nearly 100 years old), dying doesn’t scare me, but living without teeth does. Ah, vanity. That was and still is my motivator!