Embracing The New Me Part III: Quit Smoking

You can find part I here and part II here.

In January 2014, I decided to quit smoking tobacco. It’s been nine years since I took my last puff, and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride about my accomplishment. Quitting smoking was no easy feat, especially considering the circumstances I faced. In this blog post, I’ll share my journey and provide some insights for those looking to quit smoking.

The Challenges of Quitting Smoking in Indonesia

Living in Indonesia, where approximately 57 million smokers, or over 30% of adults are smokers (source), quitting tobacco comes with its challenges. One of the consequences I faced was losing quality time with friends during smoking breaks. Additionally, the tobacco industry had a stronghold on the live music industry, being the main sponsor of major music events. As an anti-tobacco person, I often felt isolated from the industry.

Smoking has been deeply ingrained in Indonesian culture since a very young age. The tobacco industry has made significant efforts to promote smoking as part of our cultural identity. This influence extends beyond business and seeps into politics as well. I’ve witnessed the son of a prominent tobacco producer in Indonesia sponsoring multiple mayoral candidates in a major city. The goal was to ensure that whoever won the election would be favorable toward the tobacco industry when making public policies.

Tobacco companies hold significant power in Indonesia, making it challenging to confront them directly, no matter how righteous your cause or how deeply you care about public health. It’s a difficult battle, but smoking ultimately boils down to a personal choice. I made the decision to quit, despite the tobacco propaganda machine’s efforts to sway public opinion.

My Journey to Quit Smoking

I had been smoking tobacco for 25 years, a lifelong habit for many young people. Breaking such a deeply ingrained habit required a long process and unwavering commitment. However, I did it once I reached a certain stage where I was ready to quit. It was as simple as snapping my fingers, but getting to that point took time.

Step 1 – Isolate Myself

The first critical step in my journey was isolating myself from other smokers. Fortunately, I lived with people who didn’t smoke and didn’t appreciate the habit for various reasons, including health concerns and the lingering smell. Smoking became an activity that only mattered to me, and my family didn’t support it.

Step 2 – Limit Smoking Spaces

After isolating myself, I began limiting the areas where I could smoke at home. Previously, I used to smoke indoors, with the convenience of air conditioning. However, I decided to stop smoking inside the house and in my car. This made smoking more inconvenient and unpleasant. Smoking outdoors subjected me to hot and humid temperatures, and not being able to smoke inside the car meant I had to wait until I found a suitable spot to satisfy my cravings.

Step 3 – Commitment to the Cause

Once I isolated and limited myself, it was crucial to stay committed. There were no exceptions. Over time, smoking became more burdensome and less enjoyable.

Step 4 – Waiting for the Trigger

I didn’t know how long the first two steps would last, but in my case, it took around three years. It may vary for everyone. Three years felt too long, and I couldn’t wait to quit. However, I couldn’t find the right moment until I experienced severe stomach pain and diarrhea, which turned out to be dysentery. A subsequent blood test revealed I had type 2 diabetes. I had to stay in the hospital so that I couldn’t smoke for a few days. When I was released, I made the decision to continue not smoking, and I haven’t looked back since.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Just a few days after quitting, I noticed positive changes. My throat felt better, and the daily sputum I used to have disappeared. I began sitting in non-smoking areas of restaurants and bars, savoring the luxury of being free from cigarette smells. Food tasted better, and drinks became more enjoyable.

Quitting smoking early has significantly impacted my overall health, especially my current disease. By choosing to quit smoking, I have reduced the risk of my body getting infected to a great extent. Looking back, I can confidently say that it was absolutely worth it.

The Lengthy Process of Quitting

Quitting smoking is a personal journey that can take time. The length of the process may vary for each individual. I hope my story offers some insights and learnings for those who are looking to quit smoking. Starting smoking may seem like a habit that’s difficult to break, but like any other habit, it is possible to quit.

It’s your choice. You can quit smoking if you truly want to.

Author: Robin Christian Malau

Content creator & jack of all trades living in SF Bay Area, California. SE Asian.

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