Kickin' Butts

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
  • 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
It is the time of year when many Airmen around the 442nd Fighter Wing are making New Year's resolutions, and quitting smoking could be a priority for many of them.

I started smoking in 1991 while deployed with the Army to Operation Desert Storm. A fellow soldier was always lighting up and out of boredom I bummed one off him every now and then thinking, "It's no big deal, I can quit this at any time." I was wrong.

Fast forward 18 years and I am still battling the temptation to satisfy the nicotine-starving beast within.

I tried a number of methods to quit: cold turkey, keeping a straw in my mouth, sunflower seeds, nicotine gum and even a fancy electronic cigarette which was the butt (pun intended) of many jokes from my peers.

At times I would have a certain degree of success, but inevitably I would find myself puffing away and hating myself for it. That only led me to feel like I should curl up in a ball in the back of the bath tub while a steaming hot shower cleansed me of the filth of failure.
Physical training has always been important to me and in June I noticed it was becoming more and more difficult to keep my breath while working out. So I decided, enough was enough and maybe my age, 38, was catching up to me.

I wish I could tell you I am nicotine free, but I am not. I have been consuming approximately five, four milligram nicotine lozenges a day for the past six months--BUT, I am cigarette free!

My resolution for 2009 is to become absolutely independent of nicotine.

As Airmen may consider taking the same plunge I would like to share something a friend once told me. I was once again down on myself for having failed to quit the cancer sticks and he said, "It's O.K. - Never quit quitting."

Due to shame and guilt, you may find yourself sneaking a smoke behind your house in the future months. I've been there.

As you hold the cigarette away from your body and exhale a little harder than normal to prevent the smoke from stinking up your clothes, a little tear may freeze to your cheek in the upcoming winter months.

Indeed once again you have fallen off the proverbial wagon. I've been there too.

Take comfort in the thought that the next time you quit smoking may be the last time you quit smoking. I certainly hope June was my last time.

No matter what your New Year's resolution is, I wish you all success in 2010.

And never quit quitting.