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The $2000-A-Year Habit

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photo courtesy of Curran Kelleher

$8 a pack, 5 packs a week, 52 weeks a year averages out to $2080 spent on cigarettes annually. Smokers who are reading this, that intend to join the military, listen carefully. Basic training can change your life. Not in a motivational “hoah, gonna kick some butt” way, but will put an extra $ 2000 – $3000 back in your pocket every year while improving your overall health and prevent future diseases and early death from smoking. This is your opportunity to quit. I know how hard it can be and that it is ” easier said than done”, but hear me out.

Based solely on my own experiences, I believe that there are two different types of habits associated with smoking. There is a physical habit that takes place. This is when you get in your car and immediately reach for your pack of cigarettes without even really thinking about it, or you light one up after a meal. You have developed a routine in your daily life that can be hard to change because you don’t consciously think about it. When you try to quit smoking, you have developed these habits, and if you have anything else on your mind at the time, then you will forget that you are trying to quit until your on the road with a cigarette in your mouth. You just light one up without thinking about it.

The other type of habit is the mental habit. You have probably experienced this before. I’m not really talking about the anxiousness or the calming after a smoke. I’m referring to when you decide you’re finally going to quit. It can’t be that hard, right? I mean, all you have to do is not light a rolled-up piece of paper and inhale it. But you usually decide this right after smoking your so-called ” last cigarette”, when your body has a fresh supply of nicotine. But after a few days or even a week, your mental addiction starts to kick in and actually takes over. You begin to reason with yourself. ” I have gone a whole week without smoking, one cigarette is OK, I should reward myself”. After you have that, smoke you are full of nicotine once again, and you immediately regret ever lighting it up. It’s too late and you convince yourself to have a few more with the intent that over time you will have less and less “reward cigarettes”. However, in reality, you find yourself back to smoking a pack a day.

With this being said, joining the military and spending the next 10 weeks in basic training boot camp is your opportunity. When you go to the ten-week basic training, tobacco is not allowed at all throughout the whole course. The best part is that the ten weeks is long enough to get you out of the physical and mental habit of smoking. Many do not realize the opportunity they have, and from day, one decide they will reward themselves of all the hard work they went through by buying a carton of cigarettes after graduation. This becomes an incentive and a goal that they look forward to, and of course, when they finish, they run straight to the store to buy some smokes. Some even risk smuggling in tobacco during the training and never give themselves the chance. Do not participate in this.

This may be your one shot at breaking the habit for good and saving your health and money. As time goes on, the smell of cigarettes will become nauseating, and you will wonder why you ever tried it in the first place. You will notice that the smell of cigarettes will disgust you. Avoid heavy drinking around smokers and stay away from designated smoking areas. Find other healthy activities to do during class breaks or after work. A few of us during our AIT used to do a series of push-ups in between each class break throughout the day. It helped wake us up, and we just felt good afterward.

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