“It Was Easy to Quit Smoking”: A Smoker’s Tale of Kicking the Butt
Over the 13 years that I was smoking, I saw the price of cigarettes skyrocket from Rs 20 a packet to almost Rs 200.
Friend: Kya peete ho?
Me: Wills Filter, Navy Cut.
Friend: Even doctors don’t treat people smoking Navy Cut.
I actually quit smoking on World No Tobacco Day (31 May) in 2011. And for the 13 years prior to that, I was smoking away a packet of Wills Filter every single day. Whenever a friend wanted me to switch brands, the ‘Wills Filter-Doctor’ argument came into play.
Morning crap, before entering college, in between classes, after lunch, on my dates, with the evening tea, post dinner, Wills was my constant companion through college and later in my professional life.
Over the 13 years that I was smoking, I saw the price of cigarettes skyrocket from Rs 20 a packet to almost Rs 200. Every budget, the finance minister made sure the prices of cigarettes were increased. There were times when I was spending almost Rs 3000 a month on smoking, which affected my monthly budgeting, especially when one is earning just Rs 15,000 a month. Still, quitting was not an option.
But things changed after I went to FTII, Pune, in the summer of 2011. My wife was in the fourth month of her pregnancy and I was really concerned about her and the baby’s health as I pursued my film studies. In Pune, I stayed at a place with no public transport. I had to walk 2 kms every day just to reach the nearest highway.
That was the longest I had walked over the last few years, and I slowly realised what smoking had done to my body; I had no stamina, felt breathless, and was completely fatigued after walking just 2 kms. Suddenly I felt scared – was I going to live long enough to see my unborn child grow?
I knew I had to quit. But the question was – should I cut down slowly or should I go cold turkey? I chose the latter.
It was 31 May, 2011 – World Anti-Tobacco day. Newspapers and television screens were full of anti-smoking messages. I had smoked my morning cigarette, attended my film class and stepped out for lunch. I picked up the day’s newspaper. It had a full page ad of a cancer patient along with an anti-smoking message. In that instant, something happened, and I decided that it was the day I had to quit smoking. For the first time in 13 years, I didn’t smoke my mandatory post-lunch cigarette.
The week that followed was tough. I had my cravings, but I made sure there were no cigarette packets in the house, and I walked away whenever my friends lit one up. The trick was simple: I had to stop smoking the few important cigarettes of the day, the loo-time and post-meal ones. The rest was easy.
The urges took exactly half a month to die down and when I returned to Delhi, I was no longer smoking. I was clean.
For 13 long years, there was always a packet of Wills Navy Cut in my pocket, but suddenly we were no longer ‘Made for Each Other’ – the ‘killer’ Wills Navy Cut slogan had lost its hold on me.
(Tridip K Mandal is a journalist with The Quint. This is his personal experience on how he quit smoking.)
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