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Why I Quit Smoking
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Why I Quit Smoking

I was a jock in high school in the late Eighties. And a smoker.

A chain smoker.

I got hooked after I tried it at age 16 in Grade 11 and I couldn't stop. I became an addict right away.

I woke up every morning and thought about smokes. Before school, I smoked.

I thought it was cool on some level, but I also needed it. Craved it. I was no "social" smoker. I felt the withdrawal if I went long without it.

I was the point guard on my basketball team. I smoked before basketball practice, after basketball practice, during half time of basketball games if I could sneak out.

Non-smoking friends and classmates laughed at me. The dumb-ass jock who smoked. Jock-smoker. Oxymoron.

I was slightly embarrassed but I chose cigarettes.

I loved basketball. I loved smoking. I was the foyer guy, but also the back parking lot guy. Socialize in foyer, go hack a butt in the back.

The addict.

And my lungs felt it. I was way more winded than the other guys on my team -- non-smokers -- and I got sick way more often. My sinuses were always acting up.

Here's the thing: The problem with addiction is you don't really know you're addicted until shortly after you try something a couple times. It sneaks up on you. Quickly.

And if you have an addictive personality or you're susceptible to something -- if it's in your DNA somehow, like alcoholism -- you can get hooked. And boy did I.

So I smoked my way through the rest of high school and then university. I played varsity soccer. I smoked before practices and games, and after. Couldn't keep up with my teammates on the pitch. Wasn't nearly as good as I could have been for that reason.

I got up to smoking least a pack a day. Two packs if I hit the bars. My smoking intake increased the older I got.

All my clothes reeked, my body reeked, my breath reeked, my teeth were getting stained. My car reeked, my residence room reeked. I reeked. A shower would only temporarily mask the smell. And then I'd light up a smoke again.

After university, I entered the job force, and I still kept right on smoking. Being in journalism, a lot of journalists smoked then still. So it was perfectly acceptable. And despite my wife's protestations, I just kept right on at it. Not around her ever or in our house but outside or wherever.

Now about my wife.