March 2, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Dec.12, 2012)

Mark Twain once said, “Quitting smoking is easy – I have done it a hundred times.”
In my case I quit smoking at least thrice in my life. The first at age 16, when I was a scrawny freshman in college. The idea was to add more flesh to my 90-pound body frame, and when my weight jumped to a hundred and twenty pounds due to voracious eating (quitting smoking does that), I resumed the vice. Nothing beats smoking a cigarette while sipping coffee and scanning the papers.

Thirty years later I would again quit smoking, upon the suggestion of my doctor who said it would do wonders for my health, which he said then wasn’t in the pink.
Thirteen years after however, I again went back to smoking, since all the ladies I was playing mahjong with were all puffing smoke right and left of me, and rather than endanger my life as a passive smoker – more dangerous, the experts say – I went back to the habit, consuming something like three packs a day.

Now, 10 years has passed since the last time I quit the vice. Before that, each morning I would wake up with a coughing fit, continuously spitting phlegm on the hour by the hour, so I decided enough is enough. Or rather, my Minda ordered, “Enough, Benedicto.”
So, how does one quit smoking? First, don’t say one more stick and I am done. For sure more sticks will follow. Don’t make it a New Year’s resolution. By the time New Year comes around, it might be too late for you, and the promise to quit will go the way of all other resolutions – in the trash bin, forgotten and unremembered.
The only way to quit smoking is to quit at the very moment you say so – not a minute or day after, but right then and there. Don’t feel bad about throwing a whole pack, just drop them in the can, and no turning around.

The withdrawal symptoms will be frightening, since the desire is sometimes stronger than sex or faith. You see someone smoking and you are tempted to go back. Don’t! Fight the urge with all your might. Pray if you must. But don’t look back. For maybe two or three months, you will be a wreck – your work will suffer as will you, but hey, sleep will come easier.

Over the years, the urge will still be there, but other activities like reading and tong-its will make you forget. Oh, during tense moments, which means very rarely, I pop a stick into my mouth but I do not inhale the smoke, and throw it away quickly after a single puff.
I do not know why I do that. Certainly I have lost all desire for the vice, but I guess it comes from habit while watching my cock getting pummeled by his opponent. You are right, I should quit gambling as well.

I do not see any danger of resumption – the coughing fits and phlegm in my throat – although now bad memories are still fresh in my mind, so to hell with smoking.
Will higher cigarette prices deter smoking? Well, will the death penalty lessen the commission of heinous crimes? It all depends. Once, when I was still a heavy smoker, I vowed to quit the vice if a pack of cigarettes would cost 20 bucks and I know some friends who did just that.