DEAR ABBY: It will be three years this Christmas that I gave myself the best Christmas gift anyone could give me. I quit smoking, cold turkey. It was Christmas Eve and I had two cigarettes left in the pack. When I finished the last one, I looked at the pack, crumpled it up in my hand, and thought to myself how much I disliked everything about cigarettes. When I threw the pack away, I decided then and there I wouldn't run to the store for more.
I can't explain what happened to me the next day (Christmas), but it was as though I had never smoked a cigarette in my life! I didn't go through any nicotine withdrawals or have the shakes, or even think about wanting a smoke -- and I still feel the same way today.
In the past, I had quit for 3 1/2 years, twice for two years, once for 18 months, for a total of nine years. They were horrible times. Any time I was in the presence of a person who was smoking, I wanted a cigarette. I suffered from withdrawal and the shakes. I now know that I will never smoke another cigarette.
Abby, I started when I was 13. I am now 52 and hope to live another 30 years. My parents were smokers, but they quit more than 30 years ago. Today, they are 79 and 83 years old. My mother lost three sisters to cancer (two of them were smokers). My father lost two brothers and two sisters, one of whom had emphysema, one had cancer, and two died of heart attacks. They were all heavy smokers.
I just want to say, Don't give up trying. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I've never felt better and am looking forward to the rest of my life. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT IN NEW YORK
DEAR BEEN THERE: Congratulations on kicking your addiction. You're right; it was the best Christmas gift you could have received. My readers confirm that although it's a jolt to the system, "cold turkey" is the most effective way to stop smoking. Perhaps your letter will inspire other smokers to quit smoking. I can't imagine a more meaningful gift to themselves and their families.