The moment Mun walked into the Café, all pretty in a black floral print dress, and ordered a cup of green tea latte, you know she has confidently made her choice – to be smoke-free and to live healthily. Mun, an ex-smoker, has successfully abstained from smoking for 7 months and counting. Here’s the story about her endeavour.
Why did I start smoking? I was curious. My cousin and I would go to a petrol station to buy a pack, and we’d share the cigarettes between us. We would puff away at a nearby park before heading home. No one in my family knew, and eventually I became hooked on smoking.
At first it was only about 10 cigarettes a day, but over a period of 8 years, the number gradually increased. Smoking became my source of comfort. It somehow felt natural, like it was the only thing to do whenever I feel frustrated or stressed.
Putting a stop to it
When I was 25, I developed a throat infection, which the doctor discovered was caused by my smoking habit. I was told that I had to quit or the infection would come back. Also, my boyfriends’ parents preferred that I quit. So yes, I had many good reasons to seriously consider quitting the habit.
It wasn’t easy quitting! I tried quitting on my own but the urge was strong; I quickly found myself puffing away despite my best efforts to stay smoke-free!
It was discouraging and things seemed hopeless after a while, but I came to know about the Quit Smoking Clinic at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) through my doctor; he referred me.
Fun times (really!) at the clinic
I started sessions at the clinic in November 2014. At first, I had to attend a weekly meeting, each one lasting about 3 hours, but as the programme progressed and I became better at managing my craving, once a week become every 2 weeks. All in all, the programme lasted half a year, but it did not affect much of my normal routine. To my surprise, the programme itself was fun. There was never a dull moment!
Thanks to the clinic, I reduced the number of smokes per day gradually over the course of the programme. From smoking one packet per day, it went down to 16 sticks, 14, 12 and finally none with the help of doctors from the programme and the prescribed medication.
The doctors were good; they were really patient and understanding. There was once when I was so close to giving in to temptation of taking a puff again; I was stressed at that time. The programme’s one-on-one counselling session turned out to be useful; I took on the doctor’s advice and decided to jog instead whenever I’m stressed. It works!
Would I be able to resist temptation when I see others smoke? Let’s be honest, I will still be tempted but I‘m better than that; I can now control myself.
Feeling good again
I have successfully quit smoking since December 2014. And, I do feel better now. I found that my sense of taste has improved; I can now taste food a lot better. I no longer need to search for smoking areas when I go shopping; which means more shopping time for me! And my friends are happy for me; we can all finally sit in the non-smoking areas when we meet up!
Do you know?
Many smokers find it easier to cope with withdrawal symptoms using aids such as nicotine patches and gums. These are available at retail pharmacies. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.