It is five years since I gave up smoking. I used to smoke on an average a pack a day. Like most smokers I too started very young, during my first year at the engineering college. What started as an fun experiment soon developed into a daily habit and stayed with me  for the next forty odd years. I remained loyal to a particular brand and saw the company grow into one of India's topmost diversified enterprises. The total amount of money I spent on cigarettes would have made me much richer and feel moresecure and  comfortable  today.

Today when I see someone smoking and if he happens to be young I have a great urge to go to him and request him to quit the habit. So far I have done it only a couple of times and surprisingly instead of being resented have been heard  patiently. I have to keep my limits. I feel very sad when I see females smoking. I whole heartedly support all anti smoking campaigns. One of its impacts has been the banning of cigarette advertisements.The enhanced awareness has resulted in smoking not being seen as a healthy habit and in fact smokers themselves are conscious about their habit. Public smoking has considerably reduced. Smoking inside train compartments and also on railway platforms  has practically stopped. So has in hotels and cinema /theater lounges. In almost all offices, banks other public places it is very rare to find anyone smoking.

It is almost pathetic and comical to see a group of smokers puffing away in a corner at the ground floor before entering their offices in multi storey complexes. While all this has made smokers and the at of smoking in public both unwelcome and embarrassing the data shows the number of smokers in our country is large enough and entry of new smokers is good to keep the cigarette companies in production and their profitability is also sustained. It is like consumption of petrol. The consumption is price inelastic, howsoever the rate of excise the government may increase.

The brand of cigarette I started smoking with cost me six paise per stick or sixty paise per pack of tens. Today the same brand is selling for Rs six per stick or Rs Sixty per pack of tens. A price rise of 100 tomes in forty years. But at all prices it has increased its sales. Smokers must have their daily quota at any price. It is almost as habit forming as drug habit, only saving feature is the slow adverse effect on one's health and cash outflow is also much less. Isn't it ironic that one pays for kiling oneself.

I did enjoy smoking initially for a few years. It did give me a high and often I smoked with pleasure. However I never came to know when it became  a compulsion and soon I was smoking not for pleasure but merely out of a habit whose slave I had now become. Many attempts to quit resulted in my being off cigarettes for say a few days and then I would feel that I can now smoke at my will and soon I would be  puffing as before. It would make me feel more weak and helpless. I decided not to attempt quitting as it made me feel defeated.

However at the back of my mind the thought that I must quit was always there. Till one day I almost on a spur of moment decided that enough is enough and I am positively quitting my habit of smoking. I stopped going to all such places which had got associated with my smoking. I changed my return route from office as I would stop at a particular spot to have my last fag of the day. I also stopped dropping in to my smoking colleagues offices and homes. I did find it tough but I somehow developed the will to overcome the desire to puff. To my utter surprise and good luck I found that I was able to survive without smoking. Every smoke free day was a bonus and I felt more confident that this time I could succeed.

Eventually I did succeed. It is exactly five years since I gave up. I dont get the urge to smoke even if I am in company of smokers. Repeated invitations by my smoking friends for a puff for old time sake are also not able to entice me any more. Upon sharing my experience with exsmokers I came to know that almost 90 percent have given up smoking by just quitting it on the spur of the moment. Almost all agreed that they never succeeded giving it up in a planned manner.

Upon giving up I found that the constant twitching that took place in my throat vanished. The taste of my mouth returned back to normal. My nose generally used to remain blocked (due to swelling due to hot smoke) became unblocked. I started feeling more energetic instead of feeling fatigued most of the time. Food started tasting much better. I started falling asleep much faster than before. What is interesting is for the first time in my life I started counting the rupees I was saving every day. My family members were happy. Many of my friends were happy. No longer I had to leave get togethers for a smoke and listen to comments.

Those of my readers who are smokers I request them to just simply  quit the habit and persist for a few days. The chances are very high that they will succeed. They owe it to themselves and their loved ones. Give it a try. You will feel happy you did so.

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