Great American Smokeout: A Quit Story by Jason Opheim

Great American Smokeout: A Quit Story by Jason Opheim

When I was growing up in the mid 80’s, most everyone was smoking. You could smoke in the hospital, on airplanes and smoking in cars and homes was standard. My friends and I tried smoking different plants to see if we could find something similar to the cigarettes the adults were using. I started smoking cigarettes at 9 and about the same time I started experimenting with smokeless tobacco. We felt as if we were mimicking the adults and it made us feel older. By the time I was 18, I was smoking 1 ½ to 2 packs a day and using smokeless tobacco regularly.

During my late twenties, after my children were born, I tried multiple times to quit by going cold turkey, using the patch, nicotine gum, and by tapering off with no real success. The desire was there but my commitment wasn’t. I didn’t want to smoke anymore, for the health of my family, but I was getting tired of trying to quit.

That outlook changed once I hit my early thirties. I realized that in order to quit, I had to do it for me first. I wasn’t being selfish; it’s that the only person who could make someone as stubborn as myself make such a change, was me. It took a lot of prayer and effort to stick with it. Soon, I noticed I couldn’t stand smoking in doors. Then, I began only smoking at work and not at home. Eventually, I stopped smoking completely.

It was hard though. Whenever I was around someone who was smoking, or if I could see them smoking, I would walk up to them just to smell the smoke. And, because smoking is such a social act, I felt left out, like I was missing great conversations with my coworkers.

Now it’s been 5 ½ years and I’m so happy to be tobacco free. There is more money in my pocket, my health is better, and food has never tasted so good and I’m not putting my family in an unhealthy situation by having them deal with my 2nd and 3rd hand smoke.

Not everyone quits for the same reasons, and not everyone quits the same way, but for those that continue to try and are successful, the joy of breaking free from the addiction of tobacco is so liberating. I can only encourage those that want to quit, to do so; for those that are trying, not to give up; and for those that are not interested, to educate yourself on how it affects those around you.