Why I Quit Smoking
My mother works as an elderly care specialist at Delray Beach Retirement Center in Florida. I often visit her at work when I?m on vacation in Florida. Of all the times I have visited her at the retirement center, I will never forget the day I met Mr. Wilson. Despite his age of sixty-five, Mr. Wilson?s health was the equivalent of a ninety year old. After meeting Mr. Wilson, I would try to visit my mother at the Retirement Center during the time she was caring for him. Mr. Wilson was always glad to see me. My visiting Mr. Wilson gave him someone to talk with and made him feel more alive and energetic.
As I sat and listened to Mr. Wilson?s life story, I noticed the oxygen mask on his face. It never occurred to me to ask Mr. Wilson why he needed the oxygen mask. I only assumed it was because of old age. On my last visit, I found out that Mr. Wilson passed away. My mother informed me that Mr. Wilson died of emphysema, a condition associated with smoking cigarettes. I suddenly realized that I needed to quit smoking cigarettes. As I reflected on my life, I decided that my job, my appearance and my health were very good reasons for me to quit smoking.
My job as a member in the enlisted ranks of the United States Navy strongly encouraged me to quit smoking. I am presently stationed at Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth. The largest Naval Health Care Center in the East Coast. In the two years I have been stationed at the hospital, I have noticed a decrease in the number of smoking areas available to smokers. The hospital provides health care to patients diagnosed with smoking related illnesses, which has caused this decrease. Therefore, the hospital wants to provide an image of a smoke free environment. Also, the hospital will be phasing out smoking on the compound within a five-year period, requiring all staff members to travel a great distance just to smoke a cigarette. I finally realized what a burden it was to look for a suitable location where smoking was permitted. Having to walk over one hundred-yards just to smoke a cigarette made my decision to quit easier. The Navy requires active duty and reservists to participate in, and pass, a semi-annual physical readiness test. The test consists of push ups, sit-ups, and a one and one half-mile run (which must be completed within the allowable time). The score of the test is recorded on the member?s permanent record. I was reviewing my test scores from previous performances, when I noticed that my run times had been increasing over the years. I wanted to blame this on my age, but I knew perfectly well that smoking had effected my endurance. I was no longer able to run a mile and a half with out having to stop and gasp for air. In a moment of desperation, I felt that my career might be in jeopardy. I needed to pass the run in order to remain in the service. I gathered all my strength and completed the run, but not before realizing that I needed to quit smoking.
The way smoking affected my appearance was another factor that contributed to my decision to quit smoking. As a smoker, I didn?t realize that the tobacco residue in my mouth made my breath very unpleasant. I recall feeling self-conscience about my breath when socializing. The tobacco residue in my mouth also stained my teeth yellow; adding to the number of factors that made me feel uncomfortable around other people. I remember approaching guests and visitors of the hospital with a straight face. I was too embarrassed to smile, never knowing how people would react to my yellow teeth. The unpleasant smell that remained on my clothes added to the list of items that made me feel self-conscience about smoking. I would try to cover the smell with cologne. But, there was no avoiding it, the smell of cigarettes would always accompany me wherever I went. I noticed that my low desire to exercise was due to my low endurance in physical activities. After a long period of time with out physical activity, I started to develop a gut. The majority of my clothes would no longer fit properly. I was finding my-self spending a lot of money on a new wardrobe. Having to spend money on new cloths because of my smoking habit added to my desire to quit smoking.
The biggest and most important reason for my decision to quit smoking was my health. I know that nicotine is a poison and when taken in large doses can kill a person. I also know that smoking causes many cancers, not just lung cancer. I was still addicted to this drug. I found myself making all kinds of excuses to comfort myself; basically I was in denial. I would tell myself that if I would quit at the five-year mark, I would not develop any health problems. Five years came and went. I would then increase the number by one or two years, just to comfort myself. Finally, after listening to Mr. Wilson tell me that he had only smoked for ten years and still had developed emphysema, I made quitting my number one objective. Having smoked for a total of 8 years, I knew that there was still time for me to save my lungs from developing lung cancer. I?ll never know how much irreversible damage I did to myself by smoking all those years. I happen to think that some of those consequences are my own damn fault; even though I was a na?ve, irresponsible kid when I started smoking.
Mr. Wilson never knew about my smoking habit. I guess I wasn?t ready for a lecture on smoking at the time. Regardless, every time I have a craving for a cigarette, I just think of Mr. Wilson on his bed looking at the sky saying, ? If I could do it all over again, I would not pick up that damn cigarette.? I?m now aware that smoking is not worth sacrificing my job, my appearance, and most importantly my health.