Sunday, March 11, 2012, is the day when I stopped smoking forever ... hopefully.
I’m 37 now. I was at primary school when I smoked my first cigarette, which might go some way to explain why the directions on my inhalator packet say the device is for ‘adults and children 12 years and over’.
I’ve decided the inhalator will be my saviour, the master of my destiny, my new trusted companion which will accompany me absolutely everywhere over the next month or so.
This, and Wrigley’s Doublemint gum, are to be my weapons of choice during my ‘fag fight’, as I’ve labelled it.
I know how hard it is to quit – I’ve stopped before, a few times – but now I’m really determined and I’ve got quite a few incentives to give me the push I need.
The most pressing one is the recent, crippling fear of dying of lung cancer and leaving my six-year-old daughter without a daddy. I’m really paranoid about this now.
Another very important reason is money. I’m always complaining that I’m skint but, being a 10-a-day man, I spend about £21 a week on cigarettes.
So I could save myself £84 a month, £1008 a year. A grand a year I’m spending on fags when I should be blowing it on holidays, concerts, treats, nights out, eating out, clothing, getting the car fixed or even just saving it.
The third reason, which became more apparent after a game of football with my daughter last week, is simply to feel better and get healthier.
I used to be pretty good at kicking the old bag of wind around, but on this occasion I was running around like an old stiffy, hardly able to kick the ball further than 20 metres without having a hernia and being out of breath.
I’ve become lazy. While I look pretty slim, I’ve had a middle age spread going on for the past five years or so which I want shot of.
I used to also be thin and athletic, but would eat like a horse. My mum used to say, “you can’t fatten a thoroughbred”. That saying is either not true or I never was one.
Sadly, I think I’ve got both the ‘addiction to smoking’ symptoms, which are the physical addiction to nicotine and psychological habit of smoking (one after meals, when I drink, one in the morning, etc).
It was National No Smoking Day yesterday (Wednesday) and I spoke to Yvonne Pringle, a smoking cessation specialist nurse with NHS Forth Valley, to see what she could do for me.
She said: “The good news is is that there is a lot of help available through a whole range through support groups, drop-in clinics, free nicotine replacement, convenient one-to-one support at pharmacies among other highly effective ways.
“You are four times more likely to succeed if you have help and support. Smoking costs NHS Forth Valley millions every year because it is linked to every part of the body.
“People may come in with chest pain and we quickly realise that smoking is a major factor in their illness. I appreciate that giving up smoking is very difficult for many people, but there is so much and so many benefits.”
I didn’t sleep well last Sunday night after smoking my last cigarette at around 8 p.m. I don’t know if this was some sort of cold turkey, withdrawal symptom, but already I was irritable on the Monday, my first day of stopping.
When the cravings bite I’m coming up with some great excuses to have just one cigarette – “Isn’t this the year the world is supposed to end? I might as well keep smoking!”, “I’ll just have one or two a day for a few weeks and wean myself off them”, “If I’m offered any by other people I’ll just smoke theirs and not buy any” ...
I know it’s going to be an uphill task and it won’t happen overnight, but I’m looking at the bigger picture here.