Posted by Laura: October 2012
Juan – short for Juanita – smoked for nearly 20 years. She started smoking when she was a teenager. "I remember my first cigarette. I was 15. I had it with someone from work who was a couple of years older. I thought she was pretty cool and she smoked."
Over the years Juan smoked varying amounts. "It fluctuated. In the beginning I was sneaking around trying to keep it a secret from my parents, so I'd only smoke occasionally with friends.
But as an adult I smoked around 15 or so a day and possibly more when out. It was a social thing and there were definitely triggers, like having a drink or being with friends that smoke."
Juan had tried to quit smoking before. "I remember I read an article on hypnotherapy and quitting. I though that was nuts so I stopped smoking, probably to prove something to myself. It lasted three months.
I quit smoking for 4–5 months when I was in India too. But started up again when I moved back to Holland; at that time everybody there smoked."
Most recently Juan gave up for a month or so last year. "I was on a six-day walking trip. A group of us were doing the Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair overland track in Tasmania.
I'd cut down on smoking before going away as a result of the training. And when I was walking the last thing I felt like was a cigarette.
It was a few weeks after I got back that I was going to the Golden Plains music festival and I started up again. It was a bad decision. I think I was scared about not allowing myself to smoke at a festival."
The next time Juan decided to give up she knew she could do it. "I wasn't worried about giving up. I had decided I wanted to be a non-smoker and that was that. I didn't like the idea that there was something that could control me.
I was inspired by a talk with a friend. It really hit home, and made me think about why I smoked and why I hadn't given up."
Juan gave up and hasn't touched another cigarette. She's now 10 months smoke-free and says there is no turning back. "I was totally ready to be a non-smoker, after 20 years of having a habit that ruled me, it's amazing to be back in charge."
Juan's tips for wannabe quitters:
Juan says it would be impossible for her to start smoking now. "The benefits far outweigh the enjoyment I used to get from having a cigarette."
If you're a smoker and you want to kick the habit, visit quit.org.au or ring Quitline on 13 7848.