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Easiest way to quit is never start

I recently wrote an in-depth package of stories about smoking. Although I was never a smoker, I can attest from personal experience it is hard to quit.
When I was a kid, we would buy candy cigarettes. Hard to believe, but we really thought those little white pieces of mystery candy with the red-colored tip made us look grown-up and cool. (We wanted so badly to be adults. If I had known then ...)

You have to realize, those candy cigarettes didn't even taste good to kids. I cannot even describe the taste, just sweet, I guess.

My father was a smoker when I was young. This was back when we were still bombarded with TV ads for cigarettes and cigars. I can recall foolishly looking forward to the day I could walk into the A and P store in downtown Lacon - just up the street from the four-lane bowling alley where they still set pins by hand - and buy a carton of my favorite brand of "smokes."

Yeah, I thought I'd really be something.

Well, in the meantime, people learned smoking caused cancer and I lost all desire to look cool because of what I smoked. Luckily, when things change, sometimes it's for the better. Anyway, the A and P has long since closed.

My dad tried mightily to stop smoking. He used Life-Savers as a substitute. For a time, cigars or pipes were considered less harmful. He tried both, although I don't think my mother was overjoyed about the cigars. One brand, a cigarette/cigar combination, offered merchandise in trade for a certain number of cigar bands.

I remember being briefly interested in the Baltimore Orioles, because it was about the only baseball team's yearbook you could get for free with enough of the little paper bands. I talked my dad into saving them so I could read about the Orioles. I liked baseball so much, any team's yearbook was a treat, although I was and still am a Cubs fan.

Dad finally quit smoking. Now 73, he probably hasn't smoked in 30 years or so, maybe more.

My grandfathers also smoked. I don't remember my mother or grandmothers smoking, but, believe it or not, the reason may be because it was not considered "lady-like" to smoke. Now, the percentage of women with lung cancer is soaring. Thank goodness, most of my family, including extended family, remain non-smokers.

Luckily, the only pack of cigarettes I ever bought, when I was at Western Illinois University, was a brand that is very harsh. It only took a couple to make my throat feel so bad I gave the rest of the cancer sticks to a friend. Some friend. I should have just thrown them into the garbage.

Now, if we can just convince kids that smoking isn't cool. Somehow, they still have the attitudes we had as kids, even though there is so much evidence now of the harm smoking does. It's hard to stop smoking. It's so much easier to just never start.

Source: The Register-Mail