March 9th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

Smoker trades one addiction for another

Editor's Note: Rick Morris is a web developer and volunteer firefighter from Canton, North Carolina. He is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Each athlete receives all the tools necessary to train for and compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September.

October 1, 2001, was the day my father took his last breath.

A smoker for 50 years, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in April that year. I recall how he continued to smoke cigarettes while pushing an oxygen trolley around his kitchen. When it became clear his final ride to the Haywood County Hospital was at hand, he reached for one last smoke.

The irony was that his brand was “Lucky Strikes." There was nothing lucky about a father of eight whose last days would come during his 63 year of life.

“Do you regret that you smoked all your life, Dad?” I asked.

“On the contrary, son,” he said without hesitation, “I enjoyed each and every one.”

A short time later, he accepted a pill and a cup of water, gave us all hugs and said he loved us. It took about five more minutes for him to make the trip to the other side. It was truly one of the worst things anyone should ever witness.

At the time, I had been smoking myself for about three years (I started when I was 29). And since I had been inside the hospital for several hours, I was “nickin” for my next smoke.

Before I could get to the elevator, I was approached by a young lady asking me for approval of my father's organ donation. I knew he was a registered donor and had no issues with approving the request. As I signed the paper, I discovered his corneas were the only organs undamaged and available for donation.

I quickly worked my way down to the lobby and then out front where I promptly lit up.

Such scenarios, for lack of a better term, happen daily across America and the world. The question I kept asking myself was, “How can I continue smoking after seeing that?”

In fact, I asked myself that for another 10 years. Apparently, witnessing my father's premature death due to lung cancer coming as a result from smoking did little to influence me to stop smoking myself. Why? Obviously, I had placed the enjoyment of smoking above all else. No regard for my personal health. No regard for my family's health. No regard for anything detrimental from smoking.

During the 10 years following my father's death I forced myself to quit. Actually, I tried five creative ways to quit and succeeded each time.

But, I never remained smoke free. So, what makes me think this time around is going to be any different?

Well, for starters, I just know it. Honestly, I probably have an edge on just about anyone else who is trying to quit, being that I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year. The new exercise regime and support coming from everyone involved with my training for the 2012 Nautica Malibu Triathlon has been keeping me pretty busy.

So, I've learned to replace smoking with exercise, among other things...

About five weeks ago, I had the fortunate opportunity to commit to becoming and staying smoke free during an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on national television. After I did that, I realized that there would be no going back this time around. How would I be able to face myself, or the rest of America, should I fail.

So, that's a very important advantage. But, more importantly, this time I've become educated.

Yeah, I went to one of those “useless smoking cessation classes." Well, that's what I thought of it in the past. You know, “My name is Rick, and I'm a smoker”... “Hi Rick.” It was nothing like that. It was more of returning to high-school for one day a week than anything else.

Called the “Freedom from Smoking” program, I can tell you that if you want to quit - and I mean really want to quit - you gotta get involved with this program. I don't care if you are 15 or 60, you are going to discover exactly why you smoke, why you have continued smoking regardless of how many friends and loved ones have succumbed to cancer, and how to challenge yourself with replacement activities.

Moreover, I believe you will find the one thing that will work for you in your endeavor to quit and stay quit.

For example, after quitting I replaced my urges with other things I find enjoyable. I would listen to some '80s music, chew some gum, eat a piece of candy or work the Rubik's Cube. Probably the best thing I learned from my teacher, Kathy Keogh, is that the urges, when they appear, last no more than about five minutes.

By replacing that five minutes with an activity I enjoy, I get through it.

But, I have to tell you that the most enjoyable replacement activity is bringing physical pain to my body. I'm talking about exercise.

Remember when you had the energy to do things? Any 'ol thing? Remember how you used to run, or bike, or swim or lift weights? Remember how you played kick-the-can all day long? Or went cow-tipping and could actually outrun the bull? Or dragged the car hood back up the snowy hill?

Well, I won't go into my childhood heritage too much here but exercise is exactly what you want to incorporate as you finally commit to becoming smoke free.

I've been exercising regularly for the past couple months and I feel great. I really feel great. It seems like I'm cleansing all the poisons from my body. I'm starting to notice the power of my lungs returning. I'm working through the creakiness of my bones as they heal. I actually sleep through the night.

I can go on and on telling you how well life is becoming for me as a non-smoker. But, I'm sure you'll just grow tired of that.

So, what I'm going to do is close with this challenge: If you have tried to quit smoking and have failed, I say congrats to you. At least you have tried. If you want to quit smoking and succeed, you need to get enrolled in a Freedom from Smoking class. I'm confident you are going to discover something in there that will help you achieve your goal of quitting. I know I have.

Another irony for you - my smoking cessation class was at the MedWest Hospital, formally the Haywood County Hospital, where my father passed a decade earlier.

Honestly, I'm not a person of the cloth, but during this journey, I'm certain he is nearby. That's gotta count for something.

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soundoff (339 Responses)
  1. Thinquer

    You donated this man's organs? Yuck! Who would want the organs of a lifetime smoker who died of cancer? Think it all the way through. Not a generous gift...

    March 9, 2012 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JA

      You didn't read the article thoroughly, did you? He signed a paper to OK the donate that his father agreed to. However, he was only able to donate his corneas, which were the only ones undamaged. Do you really think the doctors would accept organs damaged by the years of smoking?

      March 9, 2012 at 08:01 | Report abuse |
    • jb from jersey

      can you read? it said the only organ undamaged by smoking was his corneas.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:01 | Report abuse |
    • ser

      dude.....seriously...do you not read....he only donated his fathers corneas. try reading the whole article before making ridiculous comments...JERK

      March 9, 2012 at 08:03 | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Did you read the article? It clearly states that the only organ that could be donated was his corneas. Actually it was a rather significant point of the story that the only donatable body part not damaged by smoking were the corneas.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:04 | Report abuse |
    • Davidl

      Seriously? Tell that to the blind person or the person going blind, you think they care? you should take your own advice and actually think about what you write..or in this case, actually read the article, or wait...you need new corneas?

      March 9, 2012 at 08:07 | Report abuse |
    • joe

      I think it's pretty dang generous especially if YOU NEEDED CORNEAS

      March 9, 2012 at 08:11 | Report abuse |
    • greg

      @ jb, ser, markinfl, davidL and joe – Jeez, didn't you all read the first comment that explained the same thing!!!!! maybe you all need this guys corneas.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      Huh? If you were DIEING and had a choice of a liver from a smoker or death, I am pretty sure you would not turn it down. It all depends on which end of the death certificate you are looking from.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
    • magnus

      you are an idiot. the man's corneas were undamaged by the smoking so he was providing someone else with the gift of sight. you, on the other hand, need a brain transplant.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:37 | Report abuse |
    • shakemeup

      Are you the one who got the corneas? use them.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:38 | Report abuse |
    • johnharry

      reading is fundamental. comprehension nil

      March 9, 2012 at 08:39 | Report abuse |
    • Rickie

      You obviously didn't read the article properly...he said the only thing he was able to donate were his corneas they were the only organs not damaged...

      March 9, 2012 at 08:39 | Report abuse |
    • PHinMiami

      Not much of a 'Thinquer', are ya, Sparky?

      March 9, 2012 at 09:01 | Report abuse |
    • todd

      bro did you not read the article? it clearly specifies his corneas were the only usable tissue

      March 9, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse |
    • under the bridge

      ha ha. Troll bait. And you all fell for it

      March 9, 2012 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • Suhurley


      March 9, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
    • erich2112x

      And the award for this morning's most popular post goes to............Thinquer! Who didn't even read the article. A round of applause, ladies and gentlemen, for this morning's most provocative threadster.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • VFT84

      You got owned Thinquer

      March 9, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Daddy

      Easy way to quit Smoking by Allen Carr ( read this book and you'll quit smoking)

      March 9, 2012 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
    • Juan

      Thinqeor.. You got so OWNED its ridiculous.l ha ha

      March 9, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • TDot

      Thinquer...I suggest u dont use that name for any future comments cuz everyone knows your "thoopid" now n they'll just keep picking on you regardless to how logical your comments are....n oh yeah....."u thoopid"

      March 9, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • Mitch Taylor

      I was a tobacco user for 40 years. At 10 years old I started Copenhagen (it didn't have a warning label). When I was 45 I tried smoking to get away from Copenhagen. The cigarets hurt my lungs so I tried the patch, the gum and finally spent years addicted to the lozenges which are as addictive as any of the rest of it.
      I finally found a way to quit.....
      Cancer...It can help you quit

      March 9, 2012 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • 52Div

      TDot? Is that what the little pukes refer to Toronto these days?

      March 9, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • Thinquerisaretard

      Noob can't read

      March 9, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • cornea503

      Maybe they should have donated his corneas to you so that you could have actually read the article.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
  2. Cherriterri

    ::shakes her head:: Did you not read the story? Because his body was so damaged by smoking ONLY his cornea were viable as transplants. Meaning they were healthy enough to transplant. And personally, if I were needing such a transplant, I would thank God. Such a response as yours belittles the one thing that the man through all his pain was able to contribute to the world at the end.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • werthrough

      The "man" put himself through the pain. One could look at it as he was very selfish in the fact that he ruined all of his "donatable" organs because he was too stupid and stubborn to stop smoking. Not to mention the pain he obviously put his family through. Sorry, I pity NO smokers, but despise them for it. I was the only one in my family that decided not to smoke and I cannot tell you how glad I am.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      werthrough: You despise your entire family? Perhaps you should take up tolerance and civility – and while you're at it, 'allow' others to manage their own organs without having your approval. You have a few bad habits yourself.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
    • bfpierce

      "Sorry, I pity NO smokers, but despise them for it."

      You have no intelligence then, you're just a shell who hates anything they don't agree with or do.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
    • graham

      Hey Werthrough...I'll be you're a blast at parties! No one cares who you "despise", or if you put "man" in quotes to describe a smoker. Go ahead and despise people. They'll live their lives unaffected, and you'll continue being a bitter little piece. Sorry you don't pity smokers. I pity you.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
  3. Fox me? Fox you!

    Drugs. Wellbutrin. Worked like a charm, no nicotine withdrawal. Highly recommend it, but it is important to replace your addiction with something else. Been exercising like a fiend ever since, and I feel 20 years younger.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mecatfish

    Maybe Thinquer got his corneas.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dan

    @Thinquer: Did you catch the part that read, "As I signed the paper, I discovered his corneas were the only organs undamaged and available for donation" in your rush to be the first to comment?

    After smoking for 30 years I switched to electric cigarettes (Green Smoke, if anyone wants a reference). I still get nicotine but I don't get all the other crap found in cigarettes. My lungs are now clear, I can smoke inside at work, it's slightly less expensive, and nothing smells like an ashtray. This is a good option that's worked for me. Highly recommended.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vapervaper

      " I can smoke inside at work".

      No. You can "vape" at work. Lets not confuse the two things.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
  6. BigJon

    I smoked for 15 years and just quit 4 months ago. Not a day goes by that I don't want a cigarette. I still haven't found a better way to relieve stress than having a cigarette though. My sister, a drug rehabilitation nurse, told me that I would never be free from it, not totally, and that unless i replaced the addiction with another one, I would relapse. Most smokers have whats called a "addictive personality", i.e. they get addicted to things, especially mood modifiers like drugs, easily. Add in other factors like stress or depression, and it gets worse. Not a excuse mind you, but for some of us, it's the explanation.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Crowded

      Well it is a shame your sister gave you such bogus information. I quit after 13 years, but both of my parents quit after 30 years of smoking like fiends. None of us has "relapsed". I did have a couple of false starts, but once I realized that cold turkey was the only way (as my parents did) I was able to quit and I have no cravings and no worries about my ability to stay off them. I haven't smoked in ten years and I don't want to and neither have I picked up more addictions. In fact, stopping smoking caused me to reduce my coffee and alcohol intake drastically. So your sister really doesn't know much about nicotine addiction or just doesn't have faith in you.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:39 | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      Really, what would your sister – a drug rehab nurse know about nicotine addiction? My doctor as well considers it the most addictive drug he's ever treated. His nurse to me yesterday (yes, really) that her son told her it was more difficult to give up than crystal meth. I'd join the 'crowded' cult – they know everything about nothing, and nothing about everything.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      I agree. I have a very addictive personality. I was addicted to smoking and I know I can easily get addicted to almost anything. I have found myself at times addicted to odd things even, like work, cleaning, alcohol, programming, organizing things, and even after I quit smoking I ended up getting addicted to running. It is an odd and sometimes difficult personality trait to have.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Sultan

      Are you looking for excuses handed down by your sister?

      March 9, 2012 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
    • ATLien

      Excuses are like B-holes BigJon. I smoked for 20 years – woke up with a headache one morning and realized it was because I didn't smoke before bed the night before and that was it. Never had another cig. People fail because they don't have a strong enough will to quit or just plain don't really want to. Take control of your own life and don't let people make excuses for you.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • pat

      I can help brah, see like the father, I smoked for 18 years and enjoyed each and every cigarette I ever smoked. I loved smoking, I loved everything about it. I liked the taste, smell, feeling of smoking, the urge for poop from the morning one, the way it felt in my hand, the way non-smokers would tun their nose up at me, fat people telling me I need to quit for my health, etc.... I havent' touched a cigarette in 6 years. I have been through hell in my personal life and still didn't pick them back up, so I know its stuck. Quitting, is a decision, period.
      Yeah, I still crave from time to time. I dream about it a lot, but I just don't do it. It's not that hard once you go through it. The key, I think, is to go through everything you normally go through in a week/ month/ year without one. Once you've done that, it's easier.
      I don't believe in replacing habits, I didn't replace this one. I didn't eat more, drink more or anything else.
      The physical additiction to nicotine is a bunch of bull. The mental is way tougher....A cigarette is a good freind. It's always there, it doesn't b*tich, whine, or moan. It's always there when your board or happy or sad or anything.

      My biggest regret is quitting when I did, I figure looking back now, I had a few more years of smoking enjoyment left, but I did it and going back now would be a huge mistake, so I am done.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:42 | Report abuse |

    all in all a fine article sir. i congratulate you. i can also say a few things on the matter.

    1. i smoked for 16 years. i decided one day to quit then it took me a few weeks to commit to it. i got cessation meds and beyond the first i dunno, 4 days, i was home free. in 2 months i had even bought a third regimen of the medication and in fact i hadn't needed it. yet all the while during those 4 days in the beginning it was rough. as you said i went thru the gum phase for the oral fixation, and in fact kept my hands busy playing a dice game until my wrists wanted to fall off. but it was completely worth it.

    2. i am now allergic to cigarettes! yes! its unreal i know, but i am like a shark when it comes to smelling a smoker. and i steer clear of them.

    3. i have since quit smoking 4-5 years now, and also quit alcohol. same way, cessation drug, and kept off the want and need. just hit my 3 year and 10 day mark today (2/28/09)

    one of the main things about addiction is you lose alot of your friends. maybe not smoking so much but alcohol and such and it hurts a lot to deal with it. but it kinda was easier to deal with due to being educated about it. they said in AA that it was going to happen, then again they brought god into AA as well, so i just did it alone, and it worked out. yet blogging about everything in life is an easy way to get by and with a huge amount of family support (dad's one of 13) it's a piece of cake...

    i congratulate you in your endeavor and keep it up.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vapervaper

      "allergic to cigarettes"

      No. You are not.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:34 | Report abuse |

      no im not replying to myself, but the vapor doesnt allow me to reply to it so....

      i had a test done in my late 20s after i had an adverse reaction to my cat and yes, in fact, in the medical allergy test, tobacco was one that reacted to my skin. maybe you need explained to, so ask your doctor.

      i was never allergic to cats until i had one. and i was never allergic to cigarettes but i had an adverse reaction to it when i quit. upon furthur testing, there it was. allergic. they explained it to something like having no exposure to it and then all of a sudden it exploded when i had it around me all the time, like my cat. and the reverse is true as well. when you clean out all the toxins in your body and then get some reintroduced, there can be an allergic reaction.

      i remind you people are different, so if it didn't happen to you, then congrats. one less thing for you to worry about. for me, i get hives, my esophagus tightens to the point that i can't breathe, and have to stay away from it wholeheartedly. i carry prednisone with me in case i get an adverse reaction i can breathe while getting out of the situation.

      google it or ask gupta.

      lucky for me though, vaporized meds work out just fine.

      just not tobacco smoke.

      March 9, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
  8. Carl

    "During the 10 years following my father's death I forced myself to quit. Actually, I tried five creative ways to quit and succeeded each time. "

    Umm, no. If you got back to smoking that means you failed each time.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chelsea

      spoken like a true non-smoker

      March 9, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse |

      I believe there was implied irony with that statement. Troll.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      March 9, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
    • SDN

      makes your own failures a little less painful.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      As a former smoker I agree. Any time you "quit" and then light up another smoke, be it a week or a year later, you truly did fail at quitting smoking. If you count any time I "quit", threw out my smokes and and stopped smoking for a day/week/month/etc before smoking again. I must have successfully "quit" smoking about 1,364 times. Even after 6 years smoke free I have been successful at quitting smoking, but if I light up again tomorrow I failed.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • Juan

      I think he means, when you smoke 30 a day and suddenly smoke none for weeks at a time, you have quit. If you smoke again you relapse. You can tangle with semantics in an effort to be a dck, but he did in fact quit.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse |
  9. BWSFL

    CNN videos linked to these brief articles are such a waste of time. I'm getting sick of being suckered into watching 30+ second commercials only to watch a 13 second video that offers less than a photograph could. Adding to the audacity, CNN includes a 5 second, self-promotional commercial after the 30 second commercial. The ratio of 35 seconds of crappy commercials to 13 of crappy video is insulting. I'm going to stop clicking on CNN video links. IF you agree, perhaps you should, too.

    Regarding the article above. It was as disappointing as the 13 second video. Perhaps this CNN article should be my proverbial last cigarette?

    March 9, 2012 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ancient Curse

      Totally agreed. I avoid CNN videos like the plague. Can we just get to the story, and skip the freakin' ads? Sick of having some ad shoved in my face everywhere I go.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      It's called making money, courtesty of advertising revenue. You do realize that Time Warner (the parent company for CNN) is a FOR PROFIT BUSINESS, right?

      March 9, 2012 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    Does anyone else see this article as a shameless promotion for CNN in the format of an editorial article?

    March 9, 2012 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jim in Texas

    I would urge the author to disconnect from thoughts of failure or success to each attempt to quit. These terms are tied to shame, and shame is a very poor motivator. My doctor said that he believes nicotine to be the most addictive substance on the planet. That test monkeys in labs will pass up heroin and cocaine to get to it. I smoked 2 to 3 packs a day for 20 years, and even though it's been another 20 since I quit, I still dream of cigarettes at night. I'm also a recovering alcoholic of 25 years, and I can tell you that quitting a 5th a day vodka habit was easy compared to cigarettes. Don't think of quitting in terms of failure or success. In fact, don't think of it as "quitting" at all. It takes, on average, 3 attemps before smokers can become ex-smokers, so forgive your "failures". This is not a disease of moral failure or will. It is an extremely addictive substance.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. mike

    Quit smoking with no cravings and ENJOYED every second of it. READ ALLEN CARRS EASYWAY TO QUIT SMOKING!!!!

    He allows you to smoke while you read the book (genius) as he slowly erases all of the mental brainwashing you have encountered throughout your life, while also explaining that nicotine addiction is very easy to beat. READ THIS BOOK AND YOU WILL QUIT! it should be in every store, replacing all of the bs nicotine patches and gum. Big pharma does NOT want this book to become any more popular than it is, because then there would be no need to sell their crappy nicotine products. 🙂

    March 9, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      March 9, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse |
  13. steveo

    "witnessing my father's premature death"

    No death is ever premature.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. chelsea

    This article is right. I smoked for a pack a day for "only" 12 years and was not able to quit until I found something to replace my smoking addiction. Rx drugs and nicotine gum were only temporary relief. Smoking is more than a chemical addiction. You have to address the psychological and social aspects as well.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Chelsea
      > Smoking is more than a chemical addiction
      That’s what the Rx drugs and nicotine gum are for. The chemical addiction isn’t lifelong once you stop.

      > You have to address the psychological and social aspects as well.
      Nonsense for weak people.

      March 9, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse |
    • Joseph Bleaux

      Tom the piper's son obviously never smoked.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Crocky

      Or had any other type of addiction.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  15. twotonnewton

    Medically assisted suicide? What pill did his dad take before taking "the trip to the other side?"
    And the example of being motivated by something that happened ten years ago is kind of weak. If he said, "I walked out of the hospital and just as I was about to light up I remembered my dad and haven't touched a cigarette since," that would be a strong example.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Paul

    Amazing story. At least the first half. I've never been a smoker so I really do not understand the addiction and such. My mother smoked since the beginning of time and when I finally moved out of my parents' residence after college, WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MADE! Now I rarely get sick–about once a year on average and even then, it is a 2.5 day thing and no more. I've worked jobs digging through garbage, working with septic systems, handling thousands of random peoples' eyeglasses daily, worked in heat, worked in cold, and I can go years without getting sick. Now I can't even go to visit my parents or go anywhere with them without feeling like dying afterwards because of the 2nd hand smoke.
    She'll have the nebulizer (or however you spell that) in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I do have a slight addiction to soft drinks. My solution for that was to QUIT BUYING THEM. It helps to be cheap, but it worked for me.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Frisco Spade

    I try to share my experience with anybody who brings up the subject. How I quit: I didn't "quit." Instead of quitting I decide to never smoke again. There is a big difference between quitting (which can be done innumerable times) and deciding to never smoke again, which only has to be done one time. 🙂 After 18 years of smoking, that day, 22 years ago, was my last day of tobacco use.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Brad

    If what you do to quit isn't working after several tries, it just means that wasn't the right method for you. Try something else. I quit cold turky, that worked for me, might not for you. Do what YOU need to do to quit, and don't be discouraged if you fail to quit. My 19th time to quit was the one.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 50 yr Smoker

      Can't count the times I've tried to quit... but this time 29 days so far... Now I'm just getting addicted to fruit, veggies....

      March 9, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  19. stonedwhitetrash

    I chain smoked P all Mall's the unfiltered ones for 30 years and had tried to stop smoking and finally succeeded, and the way i did it was COLD TURKEY and that was over 20 years ago~~ The hardest thing I ever did, to some such as me the ultimate addiction

    March 9, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oscar

      I wonder if the struggle you went thru to quit helped you stay smoke-free. Not having gone thru it myself, I don't know. Good for you!

      March 12, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  20. scranton

    Great job Rick. You are absolutely correct about exercise.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jeff

    I've been smoking E-Cigs for 7 weeks now. I realize i still have the urge to smoke. Its just a lot healthier way to do it. I can still say im a non smoker. I can still write non smoker on my life insurance. I can tell people Ive been smoke free for 7 weeks. Even though I feel like Ive been smoking thw whole time. If you havent tried them, and want to quit smoking, give em a shot

    March 9, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 50 yr Smoker

      Got two of 'em...

      March 9, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • Karaya

      Reminds me of Bill Clinton and some of his definitions... 🙂

      March 9, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
  22. Karaya

    And the hardest part of it – to stay out of cigarettes when you realize this is a lifetime battle, regardless of how long you you stay smoke-free, you will still want it. At least that's the case for me. The dependency is for life, nicotine is more addictive than most of the other drugs, on par with cocaine and topped only by heroine.
    But we can hack it, brothers!

    March 9, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Andrew

    He started smoking at 29, what a weak man. Most regular smokers start in their teens. Anybody who starts to smoke over the age of 25 is truly stupid. Plain and simple.

    Its not good at any age, but you brain should be able to make the right decision at 25, and you don't get addicted nearly as easily at that age either.

    March 9, 2012 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. arthurrrr

    In 1997, after smoking for 29 years, i asked God to take cigarettes away AND HE DID. I smoked for one whole day after that simple bedtime prayer and he put me in bed for 2 days- never smoked again, nor craved it.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. DB Cooper

    Good essay! Every smoker is different and what works for one may not work for others. I quit (or stopped, if you prefer) only after suffering a major heart attack at 41, followed by a six-way coronary by-pass, largely due to smoking for 20 years. Unless you are or have been a smoker, you truly cannot understand the grip that it can have on you. Though I don't crave cigarettes, I do miss smoking. Fortunately, like the author, I've found regular exercise to be helpful and healthful.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. angel

    best t hing is to try to just NOT START smoking-just like any other bad habits–hardest thing we will every do-but best way to not have to go through the quitting!!!!

    March 9, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Pat

    "Quit for Life" is another great program. It sounds similar in that they also help you find out why you are smoking. When you know why, it is easier to be strong during those 5 minutes when you get the urge. I quit July 14, 2006 and got lung cancer July 21, 2010. Those 4 years healed my body enough to survive lung cancer. It is never too late to quit.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. TG

    Tobacco is used in many ways. Some tobacco products are even sold in health-food and herbal-medicine stores. Nevertheless, “all forms of tobacco are lethal,” says the World Health Organization. Death may result from any number of tobacco-related diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Smoking mothers may also harm their unborn babies. In what forms are tobacco products usually used?

    Bidis: These small, hand-rolled cigarettes are commonly used in Asian lands. Bidis deliver several times more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than do regular cigarettes.

    Cigars: These are made of filler tobacco tightly wrapped in tobacco leaf or in paper made from tobacco. The slightly alkaline tobacco of cigars, as compared with the acidic tobacco of cigarettes, allows nicotine to be absorbed through the mouth even if the cigar is unlit.

    Kreteks, or clove cigarettes: These usually contain about 60 percent tobacco and 40 percent cloves. They deliver more tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide than do regular cigarettes.

    Pipes: Smoking a pipe is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes, for both habits can cause many of the same cancers and other diseases.

    Smokeless tobacco: This includes chewing tobacco, snuff, and flavored gutkha used in Southeast Asia. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth. Smokeless tobacco use is every bit as dangerous as other tobacco use. Smokeless tobacco—such as chewing tobacco—can deliver more nicotine than cigarettes and contains more than 25 cancer-causing compounds that increase the user’s risk of developing cancer of the throat and mouth.

    Water pipes (bongs, hookahs, narghiles, shishas): With these devices, tobacco smoke passes through water before being inhaled. Nevertheless, the process may not reduce the amount of toxins, including cancer-causing agents, that get into the lungs.


    ● Be positive. Praise and rewards work better than nagging and lecturing. “I think you can do it if you try again” has more power than “You failed again!”

    ● Be forgiving. Do your best to overlook anger or frustration directed at you by someone trying to quit. Use kind expressions such as, “I know this is hard, but I’m so proud of you for doing it.” Never say, “I liked you better when you were smoking!”

    ● Be a true friend. The Bible states: “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) Yes, try to be patient and loving “all the time” toward someone trying to quit—whatever the hour of the day or the mood of the person.

    (source of information, Awake !, May 2010, pg 8, published by Jehovah's Witnesses)

    March 9, 2012 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Josh

    "A short time later, he accepted a pill and a cup of water, gave us all hugs and said he loved us. It took about five more minutes for him to make the trip to the other side."

    The hospital gave him a suicide pill ???

    March 9, 2012 at 09:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      I have a huge problem with this aspect of the story as well.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:19 | Report abuse |
    • Joseph Bleaux

      I believet that's legal in some countries and quasi-legal in some states. I see no problem with that.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
  30. JAMF

    I have quit a lot of things..........Cigarettes war unnaturally difficult. PItty on smokers for being subjected to the Evils of big tobacco.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Bob

      As a former smoker I in no way blame "Big Tobacco" for my addiction or for the fact that I started smoking in the first place. It's not like Mr. Big Tobacco showed up at my house one day and told me that I had to start smoking or else. I made that stupid decision myself. If someone decides its a great idea to take a chainsaw to their leg because it looks like fun is "Big Chainsaw"to blame for their poor judgement? Why do people always need to blame someone else?

      March 9, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse |
    • auntie_cipation


      I agree that we make our own choices to some extent, but we are influenced subconsciously by the culture of marketing. Why would putting a chainsaw to your leg ever look like "fun"? Well, because "Big Chainsaw" has spent millions on ads that create that idea and establish it in our culture. Yes we have the freedom to choose it or not, but again our impressions are greatly influenced by that world of PR. So, without removing individual responsibility from each of us, I would also put plenty of blame on Big Tobacco, sure enough.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
  31. Listen

    Legalize it!

    March 9, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Alex

    So, if you relapsed now after making this pledge, "How would [you] be able to face [yourself], or the rest of America, should [you] fail"? So, the opinion of millions of faceless people WHO YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW, means more to you than your own family? YOUR words, "Obviously, I had placed the enjoyment of smoking above all else. No regard for my personal health. No regard for my family's health."

    My wife smoked for years and quit about 2 years before we met. Which she says is lucky for her since I'd have never been interested in pursuing a relationship with a smoker. I lost my mother to cancer when I was 15 and would never wish that on any children we would have. I know it's hard. Not from my personal experience, but from how my wife has described her struggles to me. But she always said that she's glad she gave it up for the sake of her family. By all means, kick the habit, but get your priorities straight.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Perk

    Why do all the articles or testimony from smokers who quit emphasize how you NEED to do this program or you NEED to do that thing if you truly want to quit? I quit smoking years ago and all I NEEDED was the simple desire to stop...I made a choice and stuck to it. People are so weak minded it's sad.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      It sounds like you replaced it with a "need" to act like a salty little pr#$%


      Ease up a bit.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Joseph Bleaux

      Some people are indeed weaker than others, that's called life. Some people are also insensitive jerks, like you.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      One of the hardest things that I encountered when quitting wasn't the chemical addiction it was the physical addiction. The routines that had to be changed or done without a smoke. Even something as simple as walking outside of a building. When I was a smoker any time I left a building I would light up, also after meals, etc. Getting over that was difficult. It did help that the girl I started dating at the time hated smoking, that helped to make quitting smoking an easier decision. Hot girl or cancer sticks?

      March 9, 2012 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
  34. Joseph Bleaux

    Ironic, I'm trying to quit today. I quit for 6 years, started back last summer during a time of heavy stress. I was also suffering from depression and was on medication for that briefly. One thing that helped me when I quit before was to cut a straw to about the length of a cigarette and put that in my mouth when I really wanted one bad. Also used nicotine gum, which actually did help. Exercise really does help. Vigorous excercise completeley cured my depression. It helped with the smoking, I've only been smoking about a half a pack or less per day.
    Today I'm using nicotine gum and will power. I'm really motivated to quit and I believe that I will be successful.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Nick

    Don't beat yourself up too bad. I didn't quit for two years after my grandmother died of lung cancer and she didn't smoke a day in her life so I can assure you, there are other people out here feeling just as guilty if not more so. It is one of the hardest things to do in life if you are presented with this challenge. I was able to quit because it was breaking my boyfriend's heart and I was becoming a terrible person who was a slave to my impulses. I had to use medication and while it left me with a lingering depression, I can think of no worse end than smoking my every waking hour until I die. The depression left after a few weeks after I stopped taking my quit smoking meds. It was a tough six months in all, but I broke it and I am so so so happy. But not proud. Because I'm not proud that I ever started in the first place. Please, take the necessary steps to quit smoking.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Edit the artilce - edit your work!

    Great story – bad grammar.

    How come no one at CNN edits the articles that are published?

    'Being that' is not grammatical – ever.

    "... being that I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year."

    One must say ' ...since I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year' or 'because I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year.'

    Moreover, why is the non-word 'gotta' use here instead of 'have to' and 'yeah' instead of 'yes' and 'I'm' instead of 'I am'?

    What about these obvious grammatical errors – “ how well life is becoming for me”. Not only is ‘well’ misused, but ‘life’ is also. ‘Life’ cannot become ‘well’. ‘Life’ cannot ‘become’ anything.

    CNN needs to hire someone to attend to errors like these. They are an embarrassment for the writer and what is supposed to be a professional news organization.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gfy63

      Ain't you read the editors note,he be from N.C.,the drug (nicotine)capitol of the world,it be about tobacco not grammar.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  37. Edit the article - edit your work!

    Great story – bad grammar.

    How come no one at CNN edits the articles that are published?

    'Being that' is not grammatical – ever.

    "... being that I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year."

    One must say ' ...since I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year' or 'because I'm a member of the CNN Fit Nation team this year.'

    Moreover, why is the non-word 'gotta' use here instead of 'have to' and 'yeah' instead of 'yes'?

    What about these obvious grammatical errors – “ how well life is becoming for me”. Not only is ‘well’ misused, but ‘life’ is also. ‘Life’ cannot become ‘well’. ‘Life’ cannot ‘become’ anything.

    CNN needs to hire someone to attend to errors like these. They are an embarrassment for the writer and what is supposed to be a professional news organization.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad M

      Furthermore, Susan, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised that all four of them habitually smoke marijuana cigarettes.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • RB

      If you knew as much about language & communication as you pretend you do, you would recognize that these are quotes taken directly from the interviewee's spoken word. You don't edit quotations. That would be fraud. Kind of like your knowledge of the English language.

      March 9, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
  38. Jeff

    As a previous smoker who has been smoke free for almost 8 years now.......no succession program, gum or quitting system will help you UNTIL, you have seriously decided to quit. If and only if you have made this commitment will you be able to quit. With that being said, the only way to know if you are fully committed to quitting, is to do it cold turkey. Then you will know if you are committed and you can reap the savings and better health benefits as well as not stinking.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Drowlord

    Yesterday after lunch I had my first cigarette in months. Of course, that's nothing unusual. I don't understand addiction at all. I've been a social smoker almost my entire adult life. Sometimes that means I have a few cigarettes a week just to get out of the office for a few minutes and socialize with coworkers. Sometimes that means I have a cigarette every few months when I have lunch with a smoker friend. Since my current boss doesn't smoke, I rarely touch a cigarette.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Brad

    Is anyone else disturbed by this: "he accepted a pill and a cup of water.. It took about five more minutes for him to make the trip to the other side"

    Assisted suicide?

    March 9, 2012 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gfy63

      No dumas,he's saying he died 5-minutes after he took his last medication the hospital gave him,probably something chemo-related wouldn't you think Mr.Kevorkian.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
  41. Brad M

    I smoke 25 roll yer own cigarettes a day, costs me about $80 a week. I'm still young but I've got a bad cough in the mornings, rarely sleep through the night, and smoke one first thing when I wake up. I've tried to quit a couple times but never made it more than a day. I guess I'm just weak-willed but I've got no idea how to break the habit. When I've got no tobacco my stress goes through the roof.

    – Brad

    March 9, 2012 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kyellie

      Brad, I quit smoking 7 months ago using e-cigs... they can be found online or now, in most tobacco stores. Know that you're on your way already by posting what you've posted here and good luck to you!

      March 9, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
  42. Joe

    "There was nothing lucky about a father of eight whose last days would come during his 63 year of life." Your last days come during your life no matter how old you are or how you die...

    March 9, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. aj

    I like how people post really dumb comments and other people make 20 lines telling him how dumb he is.

    On a side note, nobody cares enough about me to deal with my "abrasiveness" when I try to quit smoking. So I remain addicted to nicotine loosenges. I'm sure there's more out there like me.

    March 9, 2012 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Ralph Henson

    The only way to quit is to quit.
    You must want to quit.
    You must have the will to quit.
    You can rely on a higher power.
    You cannot change one addiction for another. What happens when you can't do your second choice?
    You must believe you can do it, even with help.
    You can succeed.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sandra

    Yeah, what's this about his taking a pill and dying?????

    March 9, 2012 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gfy63

      When you smoke,you get CANCER,and when you get CANCER,you DIE,its very simple.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • cgybujkyra

      Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

      March 26, 2021 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
  46. kleptiko

    Great article, and I wish the writer godspeed in his recovery. We have to crack down on tobacco, whatever it takes. We also have to protect the population from cigarettes, i.e., 2nd-hand smoke, which contains over 60 known carcinogens. No apartment, no condo, is free from the smoke of a smoking neighbor. Ninety % drifts into you home. Make the damn product illegal and squeeze it out of our lives; I don't care whether the mafia collects the taxes on it, just make it illegal (but pot is OK).

    March 9, 2012 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gfy63

      Finally,an intelligent comment,and just think of the taxes(I'd pay 100 dollars an ounce,the same weight of tobacco in a pack of cigarettes) they could generate on 25 million lbs.,(google cannabis consumption)40 billion dollars a year.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  47. Thanksformutten

    I need a smoke.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Oakielife

    Clicked on this article because I am in the process of quitting. Smoked a pack of Lucky Strikes every day for more than 50 years–13-64! Though I thought about quitting almost every day, in all that time I was only successful for quitting once for a year and once for 3 months. Addictive personality. I'm now 38 days without a smoke–it feels great. But it is not easy. I just hated watching my money fly away for a bunch of chopped plant leaves that were enriching the tobacco monopolists. Also hated being short of breath, as, in spite of smoking, I have always led a physically active life. As I near retirement, my ambition is to hike in high mountains again, to revisit some of the stunningly beautiful wild and remote places again. I've already made it to places–mountain summits, rugged and remote seashores, etc.– that I haven't been able reach in 15 years–not bad for a 64 year old. I wish the author luck and support.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CBinWA

      Good luck to you! Hang in there, you can do it.
      I have been quit for almost 10 years. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. 🙂

      March 9, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
  49. Shane

    Allen Carr's Easyway to quit smoking. It sounds like I'm promoting them as if I worked for them. But I'm just a regular ex-smoker and I know that that book changed the way I understand what it means to be addicted to cigarettes and how addiction decieves the mind. Once I understood the addiction quitting it was easy. The physical addiction is weak (thats after 10 years of daily smoking).

    March 9, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. exsmoker

    I quite after 25 years cold turkey and was more then likely the best desission I ever made. That first month is hell but if you can survive it you have quite forever in most cases. The real trick is knowing what your leaving behind and how it affects your mind. Finding your reason to quite is also very important as well, you have to want to quite if you are to have any luck doing so. Quiting smoking is the biggest mind game you can ever play and it's with yourself, but that being said it can be done and when you win that fight it's the bigger rush then any cig(that you will possiblely want) will ever give you for the rest of your life.

    March 9, 2012 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.