ジャッキーは禁煙すると決め、残っていたパックの中身を切り刻んでその決意を固めました。この写真はその様子をビデオに撮ったときのもの。 JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
子どものころからタバコを吸う父親を見て育ち、自分は絶対に喫煙者にはならないと思っていたのに、10代から喫煙者になってしまったジャッキー。よくない習慣だと知りながらやめられずにいましたが、ついに禁煙を決断、決行しました。その結果は — ?
As a child, I never thought I would become a smoker because my dad smoked and I thought his habit was disgusting. And yet somehow, between the ages of 16 and 20, I did just that. I became a smoker. Toward the end I smoked up to a pack every couple of days. Some people think that isn't a lot, but it would be foolish to say I wasn't addicted.
Everyone knows that smoking kills, it stinks, it's bad for you in nearly every way imaginable and it hurts those around you, too. It's easy to understand why it's a good idea to quit.
What's difficult is making the decision to really, truly quit, and then actually doing it.
When I moved from Japan to the U.K., I bought a carton of cigarettes at Narita airport, not thinking it would be my last. But as time dragged on (and the packs disappeared one by one into my lungs), I started to consider the financial burden continuing to smoke would mean (a pack costs three to four times as much in the U.K. as it does in Japan), the fact that I wasn't getting any younger, and that there was never going to be a "perfect time" to quit.
So I turned to my friends on Facebook and asked for advice. More than a couple of friends recommended a book called Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking. I thought it sounded a bit cheesy, but I decided to give it a chance.
I'm not getting any money from this man, but this book really did change the way I viewed smoking. (I could talk about it for hours, but I don't have enough space here. If you're really interested, his book has a Japanese version, too. Look him up!)
Eventually, I picked a date to quit, smoked my last cigarette and quit. That was nearly 500 days ago. And for the record, it was before my last cigarette from the Narita carton — I ended up cutting up the rest from that last pack to celebrate after I quit.
It was a bit difficult for the first few weeks, but in truth, I didn't find it anywhere near as hard as I'd feared. I'd heard about people gaining weight after quitting, but I just ignored that. In fact, I decided to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted to for the first month, as a reward for quitting. So I ate individually wrapped chocolates. It helped to keep my hands busy.
The way I dealt with the initial withdrawal was mostly mental. I tried to focus my mind on the fact that I was now free of an addiction, rather than trying to avoid a temptation. Now, I no longer find there to be anything appealing or tempting about smoking, in fact I find it a little revolting. And I take quitting very seriously. I don't plan to ever smoke again, no joke. It's a serious, deadly and expensive addiction.
Now that I've quit, it would be nice to help smokers understand how truly free they would feel if they chose not to smoke, but I also know what it's like to have nonsmokers tell you, "You should quit." It doesn't help, it's just annoying. So I think people will quit when they're ready. All I can talk about is my story.
Endnote: Although this is a pretty big scale of a challenge to take on for this column — and you might think it's cheating because it's something that I did in the past — I thought it was a good one to set the tone because it highlights that we can make lasting change in our lives if we just set our minds to it. That's the fundamental principle of this column. And my faith in that principle is as strong as ever as a nonsmoker. If I can just decide to quit smoking and then do it, then what else can I do?
Next time: What if I ... walk 3 km a day