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Mark Twain once said, “Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it a thousand times.”

I think I have about as good a track record.

I started smoking when I was 17, continued through college and into my professional life. I know why I started smoking: It was one of those, “all the cool kids are doing it” things.

I do not know why I kept smoking. In fact, I never really gave it much thought. But I always had a reason, whether it was stress of work, an upcoming deployment or just life in general.

I never thought of myself as a heavy smoker, maybe eight or 10 cigarettes a day, not one of those two-packs-a-day guys with gravelly voices whose faces look as if they’re made of leather.

I knew I shouldn’t smoke. My family had a history of cancer. My PT run times were suffering and I always was getting “that look” from my non-smoking friends. You know, that “I can’t believe this guy is lighting one up in front of us; doesn’t he know smoking is bad?” look.

Yeah, I know. I know all smokers know.

Despite all those reasons to quit, I kept smoking.

So why did I decide to quit now?

Well, I was surfing the Internet one night and for some reason, ended up on the American Cancer Society Web page. They have this calculator that shows you how much money you have spent on smoking during your life. I plugged in my data. What popped up blew me away: $3,060. I double-checked the number a few times in desperation, trying to see if there had been some tragic mistake.

“What? Three grand on cigarettes? No way!” I thought.

Well, that’s enough for me. That is way more money than I want to spend on something that’s going kill me, too. Since making the discovery, I’ve made a plan, and set a date.

Come Feb. 1, it’s over, no more. I quit.

One thousand one, here I come.

Maybe this time, I’ll kick the habit.

The calculator that estimates how much a smoker has spent on tobacco can be found at www.cancer.org. Click on the “Guide to Quitting Smoking” link, then “Reasons to Quit” on the right side of the page. The calculator is under the “What’s Your Tobacco Tally” section.

Where to get help

Below are contact numbers for smoking-cessation programs at bases in Okinawa and Japan. If a number for your area is not listed, contact your local medical facility for more information about smoking cessation programs in your area. All numbers are DSN.

Japan

Yokota Air Base: 225-8322.Misawa Air Base: 226-6550 or 226-6653.Camp Zama: 263-5050.Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: 253-3266.Yokosuka Naval Base: 243-9776 or 243-9627.Sasebo Naval Base: 252-2074.Naval Air Facility Atsugi: 264-4685.Okinawa

U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa: 645-2620 or 643-7906.Kadena Air Base: Contact the Health and Wellness Center.— Bryce S. Dubee


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