These are just three of the alarming facts about cigarette smoking that we are used to hearing. We see disturbing images of its effects on print and TV advertisements, on the internet, and even on the actual cigarette packs. Health organizations execute campaigns to raise awareness. Taxes are also imposed by the government to help eliminate cigarette purchases. These creative public strategies have helped reduce the number of smokers through the years. However, a lot of people who already have been exposed to these ads, these terrible statistics, and these increased taxes are still out there, currently holding a lighted cigarette in their hands.
Here’s a true story. Back in college, our class were given a group project in Media Planning course – a smoking awareness campaign. We were asked to do an in-depth campaign consisting of creative strategies in influencing smokers to break the habit. Ironically, while our group was thinking of a creative plan at the exterior of a renowned coffee shop, half of the people in our table were smoking. The smoke of the cigarettes and the aroma of roasted coffee were blended with the smell of fear and tension that we might fail the subject by giving an intangible idea. Then the silence was destroyed by a question: how can we stop others from smoking if we, ourselves, can’t even quit?
The bulbs on top of our heads lighted up. We came back to the cliché line that “change starts with the self.” If our strategy won’t work for us, then there’s no way it can convince other smokers to quit. So we asked ourselves, “what will motivate you to stop smoking?” Some will quit for their own health, some will quit for their loved ones, and some will quit in order to save money.
Instead of stating overused facts about what you will lose when you continue, let’s reverse the situation by focusing on what you will gain when you quit.
Quit and save thousands of dollars
In the US, the price of one pack of 20 cigarettes ranges from $4 to $6. The average smoker in the US, as stated by Tobacco Analyst David Adelman, consumes 18 cigarettes or nearly one full pack a day. Therefore, a smoker can spend up to $37.80 per week, $162.00 per month, and $1,971.00 per year. If cigarettes’ price increase by 6% annually, then one can spend roughly $26,000.00 in ten years. The numbers are only for average smokers, not mentioning the chain smokers who consume more than 20 sticks a day and those who are willing to pay more than 7 dollars for a single pack.
Just imagine what these amounts can do in one’s life. On a weekly basis, the money you could have spent on cigarettes may take you further with a tank of gas, three days worth of grocery items, three boxes of pizza, or a monthly gym membership. In a year of no smoking, the money you saved can give you designer clothes, high-end gadgets, a family getaway to your dream destination, or a chance to invest in a small business. In ten years, you can pay off loans, buy your new home, or your dream car.
When you burn a cigarette, your dollar burns with it. Cigarettes are dangerous culprits; they cast a spell on you and enslave you to crave more and buy more. Don’t let the opponent win over you. Kill the fire now before they put a flame on you in the future.
Quit and save yourself from dreadful medical bills
“Maybe I’ll quit when the symptoms that we always read about finally kick in,” a friend of mine sarcastically said. Probably the best advice a quitter can give to smokers is to quit now, not tomorrow and definitely not on the day when you can barely breathe not because of the health risks but because of your medical bills. Smokers, in general, are aware that smoking causes lung cancer. However, most of them are not informed of its other implications, especially in the digestive system and in the circulatory system.
When one quits smoking, the positive effect can occur in as fast as 20 minutes. Your heart rate drops back to normal 20 minutes after quitting, giving you lesser risk of heart attack after 24 hours. After 48 hours of not getting in contact with cigarettes, your sense of smell and taste will start to enhance. One week after quitting, you’ll be able to perform your sports, exercise, and other daily activities without feeling tired and sick since your lung function is starting to improve.
I remembered an old joke cracked by a relative: “If lung cancer won’t kill me, financial problems will.” Loans such as emergency loans are there to provide short-term solutions, although these may not enough to pay off the distress caused by the disease.
Quit and save glorious moments
Life can be manifested by an hourglass. The sand represents one’s lifespan and as time passes, it slowly runs out. When one gets addicted to smoking, he or she allows the hourglass to develop larger holes, creating a quicker way to end life. Based on a fact by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy of smokers are 10 years shorter than those of non-smokers. And probably the last years of a smoker’s life are expected to be spent on painful processes of healing.
If a cigarette can cut life by 11 minutes, then a huge amount of time gets burned into ashes every single day. Just imagine an average smoker who decides to quit can save 198 minutes or 3 hours and 18 minutes a day. This time is long enough to see a movie with loved ones, type out a beautiful poetry, or dine and laugh own kids. If he or she saves ten healthy years, there’ll be a long period that is enough to see how the kids grow from teenagers to adults or enough to savor quality time growing old with his or her spouse.
The point here is each second counts. Treasure it. Live it. Savor it.
21-day challenge: Quitting and Saving
According to the myth, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Although this has no accurate basis, it continued to gain popularity and helped a lot of people improve their lifestyles. There are two basic rules. First, you have to abstain yourself from smoking, from doing the activity to dealing with people who might influence you.
Second, fill up a clear jar with the money you could have used in purchasing cigarettes. Every day, you will drop some bucks in the jar and after 21 days, you’ll visibly notice the gain from losing cigarettes in your life. Every time you get tempted, just take a look at the jar and see how much you have improved from day 1.
What will happen after 21 days? From a realistic perspective, there’s no guarantee that you will totally stop craving cigarettes but it will be lessened. In order to accomplish these, you need to remember the three Ds: Discipline, Dedication, and Determination. Quitting may be difficult but never impossible, especially when you value more significant things than the tempting taste of nicotine.