Congratulations to everyone participating in "National Kick Butts Day."  I hope that by the time you read this you will still be tobacco free.  I will not lie to you, putting down the cigarettes was the toughest thing I have even done in my life, but it was worth it.

Smoking cigarettes was considered "cool" when I was a kid.  Everyone on TV smoked.  All of the famous movie starts smoked.  Hell, even Mom and Dad smoked.  Smoking was permitted in restaurants back then.  You could smoke on planes, trains and automobiles.  We were even allowed to smoke at New Bedford High School during lunch break.

I started smoking at age 12 in 1970 and smoked for 22 years before finally giving it up years ago.  Of course, like most smokers, I quit a million times before I actually "quit."  Notice I didn't say "quit for good,"  because I am addicted and could easily start again tomorrow.  I really loved smoking.

There is no quick and painless way to do this.  People try many gimmicks and fads and even hypnotism to try and quit smoking.  Some of those things help some people but the truth of the matter is that you will never quit smoking unless you want to and come to peace with your decision to quit.  You will be tempted. You will be challenged. You will be tested.  And you will even try to rationalize how smoking one cigarette per day wouldn't be all that bad for you.  Hell, it's better than the two packs you smoke now, right?

When I married my wife in 1991 I promised her that I would quit smoking when and if she ever became pregnant.  Within a year I faced the big moment.  She was pregnant and was calling in my promise.  I put my cigarettes down right then and there and never touched them again.  It can be done.  I did it.

Once you make the decision to quit, feel good about it.  Only you know what an appropriate substitute to smoking will be.  Try to avoid eating your way through it and in fact look at it as the time to change your life in other ways. Improve your diet, workout, drink water instead of soda.  Trust someone.  If you feel you are about to cave seek out that person and lean on him or her.  Just remember, you can do this.  Good luck!

This May marks 25 years for me without smoking.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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