Advocate Spotlight: Rob Swenson

For more than 20 years, I quietly observed the anniversary of the minute that I quit smoking for good. Every June 1 at 2:30 p.m., I would take a mental break to congratulate myself for going another year without a cigarette and renew my personal commitment to nonsmoking. In recent years, however, the anniversary minute has been slipping by unnoticed with increasing frequency. I’ve been a couple of hours or even a day late in realizing that the minute had passed, and that’s fine. I consider it proof that tobacco doesn’t control my life, like it did years ago. On June 1, 2017, I’ll have gone 30 straight years without smoking. I’m proud of that.

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I’m one of those guys who started smoking as a teenager because it seemed kind of rebellious and cool. Soon after finishing high school, I was hooked. The need to smoke became a financial and scheduling priority.

My physical dependence on cigarettes lasted about 15 years. Then I started getting concerned about the health risks. Society’s views about smoking started changing in the 1980s. That encouraged quitting, too.  Today, laws and rules continue to get more protective of nonsmokers, and I support the movement.

It took me a couple of years to quit smoking for good. I only lasted a few hours the first attempt. But I kept trying. I quit for a few weeks, then for a few months and finally for good. Taking a no-smoking class and practicing self-hypnosis helped me quit. Exercise helped me stay quit.

Today, I’m a committed nonsmoker. I oppose the recreational use of tobacco in any form, but especially smoking because drifting smoke endangers other people. I encourage smokers to quit, regardless of whether they just started or have smoked for decades.

Here’s one of the most helpful hints that I recall from a no-smoking class: The urge to smoke will pass regardless of whether you smoke, so let the urge pass.

There is no right way to quit. There are lots of good options. If you smoke, I urge you to find a strategy that you like and follow it seriously. Then, quit for yourself, not just for someone else. You won’t regret becoming a nonsmoker.

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