I have tried many times over the last few years to kick this addiction once and for all, but somehow, I always managed to be lured back into its clutches after a few weeks or even months of abstinence. I thought I had it beaten! I think it must have been the “just one” lie which got me the last time. I smoked for another couple of years before I found the willpower to discipline myself again. Every time I failed, I felt ashamed. Other people were quitting and staying quit, but I kept falling by the wayside, and smoking more as a result. How could they get it right and not me?

I was only 13years of age when I had my first pinch of pleasure with tobacco; the feeling was one that I would hardly forget. It was in my junior secondary class, and every time we heard the closing bell rang we would run into one of the unfinished buildings to smoke.

Such habit became exciting and I never thought of the damage I was doing to myself. In the strings of these events I graduated from the university as not only a computer scientist but also as an adult chronic smoker. I have had people preached to me on the bad effects of smoking, notwithstanding, all turned on the deaf ears of my addiction. Some clients had raised eyebrows at my smoking in office while others had put up with my habit chiefly owing to the speed and quality of my work.

Some years back, I had a bad cough with chest pain but never complained to a doctor; it later became obvious that my teeth weren’t as white as my co-workers, who never smoked. I no longer jogged every morning with my colleagues, and I had cultivated the habit of taking mints and candies at intervals to conceal my bad mouth odour. I also hung out with new cliques that smoked all sorts of weeds.

I met my wife Lola in a club, I was 28 and she was 3years younger and we both smoked like chimneys. She worked in a bar before we got married. My wife’s first pregnancy came a year after our wedding; it was a thing of joy for both of us notwithstanding the bad things some ‘self righteous people’ had said about us. About 4weeks after been diagnosed pregnant, Lola had a miscarriage. We both thought that was the cruelest thing that could happen to our youthful family.

Pathetically, my wife has had her own share of smoking history; her parents started smoking local pipe when they were teenagers. People never thought they could stop, but they later did! We thought we had loads of time to quit further down the line. Lola’s mother died from a heart attack at only 50, after suffering from a stroke the year before, both smoking related illnesses. And still we smoked.

After four agonizing miscarriages within a decade of our marriage, we had our first child; he was a cute boy, but borne with profound mental and physical retardation. Many times we moved outside to smoke, as he had such trouble breathing, and we didn’t want to add to that! Thank God no doctor ever said to us that his condition was smoking related. We couldn’t have withstood that guilt!

Few years later, my father died from cancer of the gut, as well as emphysema-related lungs damage. His death was one shocking spell because he had quit smoking for years and we never had any reason to raise his issue in the course of battling against our addiction. Still I smoked, even as he asked me on his deathbed to try to stop. I did mean to, but thought that I had too many worries to cope with. How would I cope without a cigarette? Little did I know then, that smoking was only adding to my inability to cope with life challenges; clouding my whole world in smoke.

Our son later died after almost 11 years in our home. While I smoked more than ever, my obsession with tobacco had melted my confidence and ridden me into depression. It affected my work, and day after day I continued to lose clients. My sleep later became irregular, as I was always snoring too loud, too loud that I hardly slept for 4hours a day. Lola had a stent inserted into a valve in her heart because of certain blockage the doctor said was caused by smoking!

I became very scared that I also ordered for some tests to be done on my chest owing to my recurrent cough and chest pain. Today, as I wait at the hospital reception for results of these tests, my wife and I thought no matter what the tests reveal, this time we have the strongest will to quit smoking; a cankerworm that has eaten up the foundation of our family and taken from us our youthfulness.

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