Archive for Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Smokers try to put out addiction

November 22, 2000

Victor Allen has had a few experiences with some pretty powerful drugs. He has tried cocaine, morphine and other drugs, but managed to kick them all. At 61, he fights his toughest battle with the hardest drug yet nicotine.

For the past two years, Allen has battled his addiction with cigarettes. He's tried gum, candy and nicotine gum but still nothing has worked. After a check up last week, he received word that his smoking had to stop, or his breathing would.

"Fifty years of smoking has just about done me in," said the Pinecrest resident. "My lungs have no breath. I can walk from here to the mailbox and be gasping for breath."

Allen started smoking when he was 14. He said it was considered "the in thing at the time" and was a display of manhood to peers. Later in life, he began driving a truck that ultimately would help cause his habit to increase.

"Up until four years ago, I was smoking three to four packs a day," Allen said. "I was a truck driver and all you could do was drink coffee and smoke cigarettes."

After nearly a lifetime of smoking, Allen has realized his quitting is a life or death situation. Last Thursday was The Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

According to the agency, the idea behind Smokeout is for smokers to prove if they "can quit tobacco for a day, they can be smoke-free for life."

While he believes the Great American Smokeout is a good cause, Allen said, he has found quitting to be difficult. He said getting a person to quit requires more than just one day, it's a constant battle to not pick up the next cigarette. A battle he is fighting daily and he hopes to win.

Still, he now smokes half a pack daily.

"I think what it boils down to, the person really has to have a desire to quit before they can quit," Allen said. "The longest I've been able to go without is two weeks."

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