Ex Smoker: Antoni Maroto, Catalonia, Spain

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Why did you start smoking?
I started smoking, because I thought it was cool. It made me feel less insecure as a person. It felt like it was the perfect accessory when I had to socialize.

For how long did you smoke before you quit?
I was a smoker for 10 years before I quit. I started at 20 and quit at 30.

How many times did you try to quit?
I lost count of all the times I tried to quit. I do recall two failed attempts that lasted approximately 6 months each.

What made you start smoking again?
In those two aforementioned failed attempts, I went back to smoking while drinking at parties and believing that just one cigarette would not matter. But, of course, it did.

How did you manage to quit eventually?
I quit cold turkey. Previously, I had been smoking less and less, and reading about quitting and staying quit. That lasted some months until I had the last one at 7pm, April 25, 2014.

What did the process of quitting look like?
The first month, I felt I was nervous all the time and I could not concentrate on anything at all. I had some wild mood changes as well. But the benefits of quitting started as soon as 3 days after I put off my last cigarette.

What were the things that challenged you, while quitting?
The first thing I thought was that I would need to learn how to live again without tobacco, since it had been attached to many situations for 10 years. I was afraid of not being able to handle it.

In what way did your life change after quitting?
I started to feel more alive and less stressed. My body started to ask for physical exercise. My self-esteem improved greatly. I started to enjoy a more satisfactory sexual life. I felt cleaner and healthier. My closest ones were really grateful I stopped damaging my health.

Were there any side effects caused by this process?
I would say there were barely any side effects. We all know food smells and taste better when you quit smoking, so… yes, my appetite increased. That made me gain some weight, but not much: 4 kilograms.

Who supported you in the process? What helped you?
My partner was the greatest support I had when I decided to quit. Family and friends were very supportive as well. Indeed, some time later, some of my friends decided to quit smoking too. Reading and discussing about it was really helpful.

A lot of people don’t take that in mind, but how hard is it to quit smoking and what was the emotional cost you had to pay while doing it?
When you quit smoking, you have to think that you are making one of the best decisions in your life. Fear of failing and/or not being able to handle it can be very powerful; but if you believe in yourself, you will succeed. After all, why would it be bad for you to quit?

What would you advise people who would want to quit smoking?
My advice for someone who wants to quit smoking is to search for information on how to do it and, then, do it. It is important to know that any moment is fine to start. You do not have to choose a special day or wait until life feels better. There is no perfect moment; and people who have just quit and feel they had to choose a better moment, there is no such moment. Unless you decide to create it yourself: don’t wait to be happy, be happy from right now.

Looking back, what were the biggest harms the smoking did to you and your family?
The biggest harm was that tobacco had started to accelerate my aging: worse teeth than average, more gray hair, more wrinkles, and less energy. I could not handle physical exercise as much as I can do now. Plus that fear that sometimes would pop up and say when I lit a cigarette: will this one start the process of a fatal disease? That type of thinking is not healthy either.

What makes you happy?
Being alive makes me happy. I love life and I want to live a long healthy one.