It’s time for you all to Quit It! No ifs or ands. And if you don’t, I’m going to kick your butts!

What is this about? Speaking from my own experiences in the early ‘60s, and then again in the mid-’80s, I can honestly say that smoking is a very addictive drug. I began smoking my first year of college, because my fraternity brothers said that it was something most of them were doing, including partying with a large keg of beer most every Friday and Saturday evening.

And even though I broke the habit within the first year, after moving out of the fraternity house, I started smoking again after my first wife and I divorced in the early ‘80s.

Why did I choose to smoke? Because the nicotine has a way of making you “feel good and relaxed.” Yeah, right! At least that’s what the mind and body tries to tell you. However, the highly addictive drug nicotine, even though it can give you a temporary high, it can also bring you down with cancer and heart attacks. How do I know?

My birth mother who smoked for more than 30 years died of lung cancer at the age of 70. I have lost other friends and family due to the same addiction.

What if you don’t smoke, but live with someone who does? My cousin, Rita, had a dad that smoked around his daughters for years. They only breathed in the second-hand smoke from their dad’s cigarettes.

However, my cousin, only two weeks older than me, was diagnosed with a severe case of lung cancer, which ultimately progressed to brain cancer, leading to her death at the age of only 42. And in 2010, my brother, two years older than me who had begun smoking, because our mom and stepdad allowed him to while still in high school, died of his addiction to tobacco and alcohol.

I lived with my smoking birth mom for only six years, through junior high and high school. Most of the time she and my brother smoked, they would go to the back porch, or backyard. So I didn’t have to breathe the second-hand smoke like my cousin did.

These echoes of smoking have returned due to people whom I have recently met that are smoking and don’t seem to have any concern as to their addiction. Even though it is obvious to both them and myself that they are very susceptible to colds and other illnesses, they don’t appear to make the connection.

So who else doesn’t seem to make the connection between smoking and disease? Believe it or not, many, if not most drug stores sell cigarettes, which I now call “cancer sticks.” There have even been times when I’ve asked those at the checkout, “Why does the drug store sell cigarettes?”

Most responses are only given with a roll of the eyes and turned up palms, which is a way of saying that they don’t have, or want to give a response.

Some pharmacies have removed cigarettes from their shelves. And I hope that some day the CEOs of other pharmacies will allow their policies of permitting the sale of cancer producing products to go up in smoke.

Even though one particular pharmacy, which I won’t name, says the reason they continue to sell tobacco products is so they can offer programs aimed at helping people kick the habit. If that is the case, then why isn’t information posted near the shelves of cigarettes that mention such programs?

Do your homework, says this retired teacher, and if you agree with what I’ve shared, discover which retailers and pharmacies do not sell cigarettes, and support their businesses more. In fact, some retailers who have taken tobacco products off their shelves have said that they have actually noticed an increase in business.

One very successful business I have discovered that doesn’t sell tobacco products is Costco. Since they also have a pharmacy in their stores, it has been their decision to not sell cigarettes any longer, even though at one time they did.

If you want to live longer, and while doing so live healthy, quit smoking! Are there other reasons to quit? Yes. Consider how much is spent on your habit within a year. Do you want your financial situation to improve? It is a fact that most smokers spend $2,500 a year or more to support their habit.

It is also a proven fact that your food will taste better when you quit, because your senses will noticeably improve. And your sleep habits will also improve, because smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat — duh!

There are also other known benefits of giving up smoking. So if you don’t want to fail this class on how to stop smoking, do your homework and Don’t Stop Quitting! By the way, this could be a New Year’s resolution. The following information can assist you with your homework:

The National Cancer Institute Quitline: 877-448-7848

The American Cancer Society Quitline: 800-227-2345

All states have quitlines with counselors who are trained specifically to help smokers quit. Call these numbers to connect directly to your state’s quitline.

— Contact Allen Stark at amsstark@msn.com.

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