Friday, January 4, 2008

How I Finally Ditched that Yo

Just like any drama queen for a girlfriend, I called it quits with Mr. Yo for quite a million times already. And as always, all the goodbyes resulted into reconciliation. So after a day, two days, a week, a couple of weeks or a few months at the longest, Mr. Yo and I are one again.

As the old, familiar saying: you sow an action and reap a habit; you sow a habit and reap a character; you sow a character and reap a destiny goes, I started smoking as a mere social action. I admit--without the slightest bit of shame, that I tried smoking out of satisfying my curiosity and succumbing into peer pressure. Later on, this mere social action became a habit. It became an activity after class, during long breaks, before and after an exam, after eating and while drinking coffee and booze.

It was a costly habit. Just like most women I know, I started with West Ice, Capri and DJ Mix strawberry. Let's say that I consumed a pack a day (including the bums), at P50 a day then, it could've been enough to feed someone everyday. Since I've gone for the cheaper Winston and Marlboro Lights, every year, I spent P9,000 for cigarettes.

Because it was hard to let go of something which became a habit. I pretty much became dependent on cigarettes. Mr. Yo was my ever reliable buddy. He accompanied me on stressful days like on hell weeks when there were so many papers and exams. He was there with me on cold, lonely nights when I was faced with teenage heartbreaks. And he made the best partner-in-crime: he made gimmick and drinking nights funner than what could've been without them.

I was a Yosi Girl and it was both a character and a fate which I did not feel like changing.

You see, those informational campaigns didn't work on me (and I guess on majority of smokers). I was grossed by the chemicals present in a stick of yosi and what that stick can possibly cause to my body organs. But it did not move me to stop smoking. The dad or the uncle of who who had to live on soup and Jell-Os coz solid food just can't go through his throat did not also bother me at all.

Yes, I have been cautious. As a part of an organization which advocates against cancer (good grace, I know I've been such a hypocrite), I decided that if I cannot quit then I might as well become a responsible smoker. I only smoked in designated areas for smoking and I made sure that no non-smoker--without their consent, inhaled the fumes of my cigarette. I thought that if I sinned because I knew that I was killing myself out of the habit, I was doing less evil by sparing others from second hand smoke.

I may not have died from a smoker's disease but then came the day when I slowly started to zoom into the teeny weeny effects of smoking on my skin, breath and respiration. Yes, I hated the eeky smell that the cigarette left on my fingers and clothes. Yes, I dreaded the fact that smokers' skin age faster. Yosi became that bad for me that even my body refused another puff whenever I forced myself to smoke.

How I quit started with an act. It was an act that sprang from the will and the choice of not smoking. Soon, refusing to smoke became a habit. Then because habits make a character out of us, I was no longer among the smoker's click. Nobody in the office thought of me as Yosi Girl. Even former yosi buddies did not think of me as a smoker anymore. And because of this, I was able to reverse my destiny.

I am happy that I no longer feel the urge to smoke. I am happy that I no longer feel tempted by friends who smoke. And most of all, I am happy that I can already cope with stress, heartbreaks and other problems without the aid of Mr. Yo.

I realized that quitting is an act of self-empowerment. If you ditch that yo for good, then you stand an inch higher on your heels.

* * *
Thanks to the power of institutions to change habits. Laws and ordinances that prohibit smoking in crowded places made people smoke less. Yes, thank you Ateneo for the smockets or the SPGs (later on, wala na talaga). Thank you Mayor Binay for making Makati the first Philippine city to prohibit smoking in buildings; Davao and other cities followed.

And thanks to my daughter. Because of my pregnancy and breastfeeding days, I knew that it was indeed possible to quit. So for her, I give her the assurance that I won't leave her because of dying from a smoker's disease.

Images from, and

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