As of This Hour I No Longer Smoke!

In rebellion I started smoking when I was a freshman in college. Starting was easy; I just announced one day that I was going to start smoking. This mistake went on for about 20 years.  When I was working at Hercules, I stopped on a bet with Dwight Mendenhall.  He was always trying to stop, so I would bet him ten dollars that I could go longer without smoking than he could. I won twice, but I was never paid. Hercules had a rule that you could not take matches in the plant. If you did you got a security violation. Dwight had been caught twice with matches on the back seat of his car.  If he was caught a third time, it was automatic termination because of a security violation. With a security violation there was no hope for another job in the aerospace industry. He resigned rather than quit smoking.

 Stopping for real was much more difficult. I remember all of my old movie heroes dying from lung cancer, the push by the medical doctors that  smoking is hazardous to your health, and my knowledge of the Word of Wisdom, but this was not enough.  I needed a personal conviction, and that came during a discussion with another smoker. Kaye Phillips  was the person that explained the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal with such clarity that I could relate to these symptoms when not smoking for a while. She then explained agitation, tunnel vision, and even visual blackouts.  I had experienced these when I went to church on special occasions for the children. I would not smoke on these mornings, and by the end of the three hour block I had to take a walk and have a smoke. My symptoms would disappear.  It was only after I was self-diagnosed as a nicotine addict that I could solve the problem. The real impetus came from the family.  With the knowledge that second hand smoke was harmful, the girls (Kate, Cindy and Carla) voted that I must smoke outside of the house.  I considered this to be harassment but did as required. The kicker came in a discussion with the family where Boyd asked how old he needed to be to start smoking like dad.  Of course I did not want him to start. I was studying the teachings of Steven Covey on how to make a change in your life.  First, you announce the intention to change to your friends. I did this at a New Years party at Tom Wilson’s home.  As we approached midnight I smoked my cigarette down, and at the stroke of midnight I announced to Tom Wilson and Jerry McClure, “ Tomorrow you will be smokers but I will not be.” Tom eventually quit but Jerry never did, dying from lung cancer just as all of my movie heroes had.  In a way, Jerry was a scientist hero helping me get started at Miami University. 

That was not the end of the story.  I had no problem for about six months and then I enjoyed a cigar.  But I remembered that Grandpa Wilson had quit smoking for six months and then restarted, never to quit again. I took that to heart and never had a temptation to smoke again. Thanks to Pa Roy for sharing that story. Sometime after the cigar incident, a change came over me and tobacco became repulsive to me.I learned that it is never too late to change a bad decision if you repent.