Despite his age, Mr Ithnin looks strong and able. You can still see his youth shine through as he speaks passionately about his bikes and riding experiences. Mr Ithnin, an ex-smoker, has kicked his smoking habit and remained smoke-free since 2013. This is a story of someone who quit for his daughter’s sake, only to become healthier and embrace life to the fullest.
I was 16 when I took my first puff. Smoking at that time felt grand; I felt like I was a ‘somebody’ whenever I smoked. It never crossed my mind how bad smoking could be in the long run.
I became a chain smoker after I joined the Navy. I went from about 4-5 sticks to 40-50 sticks per day!
Marriage and change
I swapped my wild days when I got married to my first wife, Ziza; she didn’t like me smoking or riding bikes as she saw them as ‘dangerous’. Riding, in fact, was my greatest passion and I loved motorbikes. But, despite how reluctant I was to give up riding, I did because I loved my wife more.
Quitting, as I recalled, was never a tough one. I was 22 then. I thank my strong willpower for that; when I decided to quit, I quit. It was also about the people I spent my time with. For instance, when I received an invitation to tea with friends who smoke, I turned down the invite with a friendly excuse, because I knew I would be tempted if I were to see them smoking!
Back to square one
I hit rock-bottom when my wife passed away due to cancer in 2012; I was in great grief. Not knowing what to do, I quickly found myself puffing away incessantly; it’s my way of dealing with her cancer and later, her absence in my life. I can’t even remember the number of smokes I had per day; I just took a puff whenever I thought about her.
Three months after my wife’s death, I picked up riding again in addition to smoking. Like her late mother, my daughter got concerned whenever I took the bike out; she worried about my safety and health. It hit home when she said, “Mom has passed away and I don’t want you to go too” and that’s when I decided that I should stop smoking.
The road to cessation
I joined the quit smoking program at UKM Medical Centre, as suggested by my daughter. Under the guidance and advice from Dr Linda and Dr Rashidi, I managed to follow the program to completion and stopped smoking after about a year.
The program itself was interesting. It is a weekly group counselling that lasts from 1 to 1 ½ hours. I attended lectures, had my breath tested for smoke and was given nicotine gums to help with quitting. It didn’t interfere with my daily schedule at all. The program was so helpful that I even imparted what I’ve learnt from the centre to help my friends who are thinking of quitting.
If there’s one thing from the program that left quite the impression in me, it has to be the slideshow on a smoker’s lung. It was frightening! I had never really given a thought about how smoking would be for my lungs until I saw the slides. The slides showed how my lungs would become darker over time, becoming black even, if I kept smoking. These images were enough to put me off smoking.
Smoke-free & care-free
Life has changed since I stopped smoking. I found the will and strength to move on, and with God’s blessing, I found a wonderful woman to become my wife. Life is great with my wife and my family, and I really feel blessed.
I still go on a ride now and then with my bike, especially with my friends. We are planning to ride up to Cambodia soon, and I am really looking forward to it!
Do you know?
Don’t worry if you cannot locate a smoking cessation clinic in your neighbourhood. You can also choose to visit a retail pharmacist for help in quitting smoking.