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Stories of former and non-smokers

 

Sofia - 25 years old (published 7/1/2011)
On January 1st, 2011 I decided to quit smoking. Four aces: The New Year gives us each time the change to place certain objectives.  It is a quarter to one and in order to fight my urge for a cigarette , I am reading one more time all the negative things smoking does to the human body, and the stories of all the other "fighters" if I may use the term even thought it is a little strong, but I will use the term since it is how I feel. I want to tell those who have quit and all those who are trying to quit that the reason I am quitting is because I want to be FREE.  I want to have fun without having to make a stop at the kiosk, to dance without being afraid that i might burn someone, to cry without wondering where I will put my ashes, to get angry and be able to knock my hands hard on the table, to drive with the windows up, to dive and go further than anyone else, to give kisses without searching for trident. And I make you my partners in my desire to be FREE because now you know that I am enslaved, the way you were in the past and the way some of you still are! Good luck to me and to you and Happy New year !!!

Manolis – 55 years old (published 22/12/2010)
I used to smoke up until the age of 35 and for the past 20 years I have quit when I realized that I smoke when things went well and I would say to myself  "let me have a cigarette and enjoy it", but also when things didn't go well and I would say "let me have a cigarette so I can feel better" and when I was going about my daily routines (i.e. driving or waiting for something) I would say "let me have a cigarette so time can pass". I smoked because I didn't know how to enjoy the good events or how to handle the bad events, nor did I know how to make my daily routine more interesting and I told myself that when someone smokes at every instance he/she is stupid, he/she can't enjoy the good or the bad, or the regular, and thus is stupid and is affecting his health, the health of others and is polluting the air we all breathe. I decided not to be stupid and to handle everything on my own, without hiding my feelings behind smoke and nicotine.

Mania - 27 years old (published 27/3/2009)
I started smoking when I was 18, in the beginning because I want to be cool  and then because I got hooked on it.  I have always wanted to quit.  Every time I would light a cigarette I thought to myself that I have to quit sometime. But I never made the decision. Until I started bicycling everyday for many hours. Now I have quit and it has been 2 months, going uphill is easy now (not just easier!) and I feel more determined than ever - I had quit 2 more times, the first time was for 9 months and the second was for 2 months, but deep inside I knew I was going to start again both times. One thing is certain, a cigarette is not an "escape" from problems. Unfortunately, when someone has problems it is hard to think this way. In my opinion, the best time to quit is when there is balance in all aspects of life - usually in terms of employment, finance and personal life.

Anonymus (published 28/2/2007)
I would like to dispel this popular myth regarding smoking, namely that cigarettes obstruct weight gain. I had been a smoker for over fifteen years and at the same time overweight too, the worst possible combination that is. When I quit smoking ten years ago, I also made an effort to lose weight, quite successfully. Since then I have been a fervent anti-smoker, given that I am also a hospital doctor, even though many of my colleagues and nurses smoke, mistreating the human body, which they have undertaken to serve. 

Andreas - 29 years old (published 27/10/2006)
I've been smoking since I was fifteen. Four days ago, I woke up in the night and I was coughing like an eighty year old man! It freaked me out. I started swearing at the damn cigarettes. I got the whole kit (shag, pouches, lighters, filters, paper) and threw it in the bin. I decided to quit. Next day around ten o' clock I literally started shaking. I ordered coffee and lit a cigarette. I bought some Nicorette gum, but for the first couple of days carried on smoking two or three cigarettes a day. Yesterday I had none. Today I haven't either, and to tell you the truth I don't miss it that much. I could even say that it even bothers me when I smell it! I hope I manage to quit once and for all!

Charalabos Papadimitriou - 74 years old (published 14/6/2006)
I've been smoking sporadically since the age of sixteen, and regularly since twenty. At forty-two the following happened: one morning at the office, when I lit my first cigarette of the day to have with my coffee, I felt a piercing ache in my chest. Two hours later, with my second coffee and second cigarette, I felt once again an intense, momentary pain in my chest. I didn't pay it too much attention. That same night though I woke up with an unbearable pain in my chest, as if I was being crushed by a giant. I thought I would die. When it got light, I could not believe I was still alive. The pain was gone, but the entire day I was feeling a sort of fatigue. I went to see some doctors, I took some tests and stayed in bed for a week. It was probably not a cardiac arrest, but pseudo-chest pain typical for smokers. I wondered: "what am I doing? Am I going to make orphans of my children because of damn cigarettes?" I realized that the cigarette talked to me and said: "quit me, or I'll be the end of you." I quit that very day. For two years I felt the desire to smoke, but I resisted. After two years I completely forgot about it. Since then I never had another problem with my heart.

Angela Natsouli - 50 years old (published 3/6/2006)
When I was a student, I started buying cigarettes for the same reasons that kids today smoke, showing off. It was then fashionable to smoke Dunhills in the burgundy flat pack. So I was walking round with a pack in my satchel and belonged to the "in" crowd. At parties, cafeterias etc I lit up and "smoked". But I could not inhale the smoke. It was bothering me, it was bitter and burnt my throat. This went on for a few years, until I got a polyps deep in my throat. It didn't bother me unless I smoked, and then, even the little smoke I inhaled made it larger. I then felt something alien bothering me. At first I didn't know what it was that disturbed me when I smoked. But one day I got a mirror and opened my mouth, and saw it there, deep inside behind my uvula. Since then I stopped smoking completely. And after a short while I had the polyps surgically removed.

Christos Pierroutsakos - 52 years old (published 21/2/2006)
My father was a heavy smoker, smoking roll-ups, pipes etc. He quit when he was fifty and finally left us when he was eighty of heart failure. On the day of my father's funeral, in all the emotional tension I was under, I said to him: "Father, for many years it has been your wish that I quit smoking. Well, I will do it!" So I quit and started exercising: walking, basketball and the gym. Every day as I visited my father's grave, which was at the top of a hill at the edge of the cemetery, I felt I was going faster and better. And in my psychological tension I was talking to him and was telling him: "Father, we did it. I am healthy." So in the end I managed to turn the pain of loss into something positive. Ten years later, with a group of friends, everyone was smoking, so I lit one up too, as a joke. Something amazing happened. As soon as I drew in the smoke, I got dizzy like a rookie and collapsed! Since then I have never had a cigarette.

Christos - 41 years old (published 27/2/2006)
Last year my uncle had by-pass surgery. In the next bed in the same ward lay a seventy year-old gentleman, a refined man, who was also about to undergo surgery because of damage sustained from smoking. He had quit thirty years ago! He protested: "When I was 40 I wanted to live, and it's still haunting me…" That night I had a dream: As soon as I woke up in the morning, my daughter came and started kissing me, as she did each morning, but I was not alive! And she was shouting: "daddy, daddy…" I realized that I have invested in my family and I have some obligations where they are concerned. I thought that I was not born with a cigarette in my hand and that smoking is a lie. And I quit once and for all.

Giannis Markopoulos - 65 years old (published 9/5/2006)
I had reached the point of smoking four packs of cigarettes a day. Once, I was having lunch with friends at a seaside taverna and our discussion led to their challenging me that it was impossible I would ever quit smoking. Their challenge stuck in my mind. A little while later I threw my pack of cigarettes and my golden lighter into the sea and declared that I was quitting then and there! And may I point out that that golden lighter had a great emotional value for me, since I had bought it for myself the day I was accepted at the Technical University. Since that day I have not had another cigarette.

Konstantinos Kalogiannidis (published 5/6/2006)
I quit smoking twenty years ago, and I am one of those who quit once they are faced with imminent health damage. The danger was in the end averted. Since then I have come to hate smoking more than you can imagine, and consequently became the most fervent anti-smoker. I often think back to the extent of my addiction during that time and am astonished… So I decided with the help of a few colleagues and friends to found the "Antismoking club of Serres". Now I exercise easily, I don't get tired quickly, I breathe deeply, I'm not short of breath, I feel different… I quit smoking and I am happy about it! Dear friends, say "death" to that which causes death, namely smoking. And let's realize that what a smoker does to himself is his business, but the effect he has on others is everyone's business. 

Anonymus (published 26/9/2006)
I am not a smoker, nor have I ever been one. My two children (36 and 34 years old) have never smoked either. From a young age they were doing sports and they always wanted to have good stamina and improve their performance. My husband was a smoker, but managed to quit about twenty years ago. Fear was what made him quit. One day he happened to have a look at his tongue in the mirror and saw that its surface did not look normal. He went to two or three doctors, who each had a different opinion and prescribed a course of medicines (to no avail), recommending at the same time a cancer examination. Even hearing the word "cancer" distressed him. One of the doctors told him to quit smoking. He repeated this many times and, when asked if he should go ahead with the examination, his answer was: "Go ahead and I am sure that it will be negative and you will carry on smoking. The change to the surface of your tongue is giving you a signal that your system can not tolerate smoking. It might next try to show you in a different way and by then it might be too late." He quit. A few months later his tongue looked normal once more and he is absolutely healthy. 

Antonis Koutsokeris - 45 years old (published 16/1/2006)
I have been smoking since I was nineteen and until thirty-one. I was smoking as much as one-and-a-half to two packs a day. But I was disturbed by the smoke of others. I also realized that I was quite prone to viral infections and even a simple cold would affect my lungs. Sometimes I found myself in the sort of environment where I felt I was disturbing others with my smoke. Gradually I came to realize that I was doing something bad. I also realized that what I did looked bad too; whatever I was doing, I was doing it holding a cigarette… I decided to quit. The first time I lasted four days and then had to smoke again. But within the next ten days I found the strength to give it up for good. It was not easy. For two or three years I went on wanting it, sometimes very badly. But I managed to control myself and I made it and of course I have not regretted it one bit. 

Fotini (published 17/6/2009)
My name is Photini and for the first time I feel good about the decision I have reached! I have decided to QUIT SMOKING after seventeen years! I am addicted to it, I hadn't even quit during my two pregnancies. Today I rang an Antismoking Centre and have my first appointment for Friday 19 June. I am worried I might not make it, but it is worth trying, for the sake of my children above all, for yesterday evening my three-year-old fell into my arms and I pushed him away because I was holding a cigarette. Then he said: "Throw that thing away!" And I decided to throw it away for their sake, since I could not do it for mine. We are wasting valuable time with our children because of this cancer! Good luck to all!

Alexandros Fotinos (published 12/11/2005)
I started smoking when I was sixteen years old. I always knew that smoking is harmful, so I tried not to inhale too deeply, to breathe in the smoke together with air and exhale quickly. At nineteen, when I was a student, some other people and I happened to be at the house of a classmate of mine whom I fancied and at some awkward moment I lit up. She was clearly annoyed and complained that she did not want people to smoke in her house. I felt embarrassed, and, for the first time, realised that my smoking may be a nuisance to some people… A year later I had a stomach disorder and the doctor prescribed a specific diet and advised me to quit smoking. I followed his instructions for three months but then eventually started smoking again. Three years later I broke my leg in a bike accident and was put in a cast for three months. I decided to quit smoking on my own, so I would have better control over myself. Unfortunately, as soon as the cast was off, I started smoking again. Deep inside however I wanted to quit. I gradually started to realise that the cigarettes that I really enjoyed each day were very few indeed. The rest I only smoked out of nervousness or restlessness. Besides, I always admired the very few people I had met that managed to smoke only one or two cigarettes a day. I considered it a difficult thing to do. Three years later, at twenty-six, I had to join the army for my service. In an effort to make the most of my time there and to make something of the experience I quit once more. In fact I quit three times during the service. The first two I started again, under pressure from various problems that I encountered. But the third time, I did three things together: I quit smoking, I gave up sweets (I had put on weight and my teeth hurt as well) and I joined a gym. And it finally stuck. For three months I replaced cigarettes with gums and nuts, and then gave those up too. Since then I exercise regularly and take care of my diet. And I feel strong and healthy.