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Quitting Just Ain't Easy

By LC Van Savage

The business of quitting has become a very big business indeed. Quitting booze, quitting sex, quitting drugs, quitting chocolate, quitting aberrant behaviours, and the most commonly heard word to come after the “quitting” word is, of course, “smoking.”

Quitting smoking is really hard, right? Like booze, it’s a totally legal drug in our country, and we all have the “right” to use it to shorten our lives as we see fit, and many of us do. There’s a huge plethora of gizmos and gadgets, pills, gums, candies and therapies available to help us quit sucking poisonous smoke into our tender, pink and innocent lungs.

Mongo and I quit twenty some-odd years ago, and here are some methods our kids used to get us to quit, altho they spoketh in fork-ed tongueths because they themselves were sneaking a few butts behind not just barns but any buildings anywhere. And I’m not quite sure exactly what sorts of “butts” they actually were inhaling, but that’s another column.

Mongo and I would go into the bathroom in the mornings and our Marlboros would be floating in the toilet bowl, swollen and gross, not a particularly pleasant way to begin the day. Another way was for them was to run a needle through every cigarette in the pack leaving holes in the cigarettes, not the needle in the cigarettes. (That would maybe have had more impact.) Another was to leave heart rending notes in the cigarette packs begging us to quit. Yet another was for the kids to walk into a room, blue with our smoke, clutch at their throats, gag loudly, fall to the floor gasping for air and then remain dead still, not breathing. Scary.

I remember once sitting on the side of the tub smoking as the boys were being bathed and hearing my grandmother coming upstairs. In desperation I heaved the cigarette into the tub. Of course my little Judases screeched, “Hey! Mom! You wanna kill us? Watcha throwing that cigarette into the tub for?” My grandmother, who’d promised us all new cars if we’d never smoke in our lives, snorted, stood in the bathroom doorway and loudly withdrew her offer. Thanks, guys.

My favorite story of quitting was told to me by our dear Dutch friend Hans Tromp. He was a heavy smoker but fell in love with a woman who captains a huge charter boat that takes people to the Antarctica. Her name is Eef, pronounced “Aif.” She’s beautiful, athletic and glowing, and doesn’t smoke. Hans was taking the cruise with her, so he’d purchased 50 packs of cigarettes for the journey. He was all set. Suddenly, gazing at this ship captain he loved, he realized he had to quit, so went up on deck and heaved his lighter and all those cigarettes into the bay, after slicing open many of the packs. They all floated. He waited patiently, but they floated away, not sinking. But he’d made the gesture. His addiction was over. Hans would now be able to breathe that pure and clear Antarctican air and truly appreciate it.

Many days and nautical miles later, Eef dropped anchor and old sailing friends sailed close. The owners and crew climbed aboard for some wine and good food. ( is also a wonderful chef when she’s not sailing her craft.) Some of the guests began to tell a story and laugh about a certain “find” they’d discovered. It seems that lined along a distant shoreline was this tremendous cigarette booty. Some needed drying out, some were used to start campfires but the rest of this tobacco largesse was simply smoked. They happily announced they all had enough cigarettes to last them a very long time and even pulled a few out and offered them around. Hans politely refused, explaining he’d “quite recently quit.” He looked longingly at the weathered packs on the table but he stayed the course. Bravo Hans!

As an author with several books published, LC Van Savage still finds time for air time and an active community service life.
See her biography by clicking her byline (name in blue at top of the page.)

Check Here for Recent "LC's Take" Columns


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