03 July 2008


I pick up smoking in form five (1975). Actually it was peer pressure as most of my friends smoke. Smoking was cool and very hype at that time. During weekend breaks, we would buy and smoke a pack of Benson & Hedges and drink coke together at the nearby stalls outside the school hostel (but far from the prying eyes of the school warden). We'll get a nicotine high and a big headache after the smoking session. Of course we'll buy a lot of Hacks and spray cheap cologne (Old Spice) to camouflage the cigarette smell.

Some boys were more daring, they smoke in the toilet hostels. It was a serious offence if you were caught smoking inside the school and hostel compound. Once there was this form 3 boy who was made to drink tobacco juice, concocted by the hostel warden, after he was caught smoking. He vomited endlessly and most probably quit smoking permanently too. Incidentally the warden comes from my kampong and is a distant relative. Still it was not an advantage as many a times my over-the-limit hair was snipped by him.

The smoking habit stuck through my University days, (a godsend when doing assignments and projects) and through my working life (a godsend too because all my bosses are slave drivers). In the long, cold, dark and gloomy English winter days, cigarettes kept me warm and occupied.

Finally the fun ended in 2003 after 28 years. I suddenly got fed up with smoking, the bad smell, the irritating coughs, the whizzing and everything in between. After quiting smoking, i don't feel like a walking ash tray anymore. Of course it was very difficult during the first month, as the mind keeps connecting with the lost love, but then it gets easier as the months passes by. I have not had a single cigarette since that eventful day, nearly five years ago. It is a small triumph for me.

Now i seldom have coughs and flu, no more whizzing, have a fresh breath, and can even play badminton two hours on ends, every day. I feel healthier and wake up with a zest every morning.

There isn't any short cut to quit smoking. The best way is still cold turkey and of course perseverance. Taking nicotine replacement therapy (nicorette) also helps to a certain extent, but you'll still be addicted to nicotine. During the first day of quiting smoking, trick the mind into believing that you are quiting for a single day only. The next morning, do the same thing. After a week, it gets easier. If you fall, get up and try again. Reward yourself when you cross a milestone. Maybe buy yourself an expensive t-shirt if you manage to quit for a month. Perseverance is the key word to quit smoking.

So for those who want tips, advises and encouragement, please do contact me.

By the way, I will not charge any consultancy fees from friends.

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