Help someone take that first step

“Have you quit?”
That was the question Paul Cousineau posed to a friend at the front counter of the Fort Frances Times on Monday.
“If you could see what my mother is going through, you wouldn’t be smoking,” he added.
In this season of resolutions, next to dieting and exercise, the vow to quit smoking probably is one of the most common made.
I remember when health classes in elementary schools began talking to Grade 3 and 4 students about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. The images of black tarred lungs and the fear that we would see our parents die a horrible death from smoking was implanted into the minds of seven- and eight-year-old kids.
It left a mighty impression in my mind.
My own mother will admit her children probably badgered her into quitting. It took far longer for my father to finally give up smoking.
For Paul, smoking is a life-and-death issue. And liking friends and wanting to protect them from the ravages of lung cancer is an easy argument to make.
I can’t imagine what it is like to need a cigarette when one wakes in the morning, or waking in the middle of the night to smoke. I’ve seen patients who were receiving chemotherapy standing outside a hospital door in their flimsy hospital gowns with a drip in their arms smoking a cigarette.
I can’t imagine the physical need they have to stand outside on a cold Prairie day in January. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have such a dependence to such an addictive substance.
I have had my share of lung infections. I do know what it is like to be gasping for a breath and being unable catch my breath.
It is such a desperate feeling. Yet so many smokers end up gasping for a breath.
My illnesses were easy to cure. Smoking addiction, however, is a life-long struggle.
I’ve been told that even in quitting, the struggle occurs every day.
This is the season of making resolutions—even though most we will never keep. Most have to do with improving our health. It may be exercising daily. It may be choosing to give up red meat or choosing a diet that will help take off the 10 pounds we have gained over the past 12 months.
A word of encouragement from a friend or family member may make all the difference in helping someone stick to their resolution.
Or maybe a plea from a friend to encourage someone to change their lifestyle might give confidence to that person to take that first step.

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