Why did you start smoking? I began smoking in 2005, at the age of 23. I was old enough to know better. I was stressing at work rather badly one particular day, and a co-worker told me that I should go take a break and "have a smoke." I always detested cigarettes, but at the time, it sounded like sage advice, so I did. A few days later, another stressful thing happened at work, he offered me another cigarette, and I took it. Later that night, I bought my first pack. Menthol, because they had a different flavor.
How long did you smoke? I smoked from then until April 25th, 2022 which was 17 years total--all by chance. It was way too long to do something I never wanted to do and knew that I shouldn't do. Using it as stress relief became an excuse, and then smoking just became a routine way more than it became a habit.
What made you decide to quit? Probably a lot of underlying reasons. I had tried to quit a few different times in the past for all of the standard reasons. Health. I wanted to breathe better. I wanted to be able to be more active. I didn't want to risk dying young from something I could have avoided and leaving my daughter without a family. But even though I knew that I needed to quit, I guess I wasn't fully prepared to do it. I was walking home from work on April 25th, 2022, smoking my last cigarette, and decided I'd just wait til the next day to get more. I walked to work the next day and forgot to get more. I made it through the day without one and realized that I was just done. I haven't smoked since.
Have you noticed any benefits from not smoking? I breathe better, I cough and wheeze less, I spend less time by myself outside smoking and more time interacting with others, my smile is brighter, I stress less because I don't have an excuse to need to be stressed, and you just can't fully explain how it feels to be healthier and happier.
Any advice you want to share with others? Needing to quit and wanting to quit are two very different experiences and feelings. We all know we need to quit, but you also have to WANT to quit. And next time anything makes you feel like you WANT to quit, don't question it or second guess it because if that feeling goes away, there's no telling when it'll come around again. So seize the Want.
We appreciate Josh's willingness to share his story. Want to quit? Seize the Want! Contact GCHD for free resources and support. Visit myhealthdepartment.org/tobacco for more information.