After swimming my laps, I do a few exercises in the therapeutic (90 degree F) pool. Last Sunday, the deepest corner of the pool was occupied by two fellows in their seventies who had both quit smoking. One of them told me that his addiction had been severe. He tried everything: accupuncture, hypnosis, the Patch. Yet he went right on consuming two-and-a-half packs a day.
One morning he woke up, unable to breathe. He somehow drove himself to the local emergency room, where they diagnosed pneumonia and put him in the hospital.
"I had three cigarettes in a pack in my pocket," he said. "I stole moments in the stairwells to get a few puffs. Then I was out, and I started thinking about the full pack I had left in my car. I could see it exactly where it lay on the seat."
Desperate for his next smoke, he tried to bum cigs from anyone, but no one would oblige. He offered a nurse $25 to retrieve that pack from his car, but the nurse refused, explaining he could lose his job.
Three days later he was released, and he could not wait to open that pack. "I flicked my lighter, but it didn't work. No problem, the car had a lighter. I started the engine, pushed the cig into the lighter, and smelled the tobacco. 'What are you doing?' I asked myself. I went three days without a smoke and it didn't kill me.'"
He still has that pack, but now, fifty-plus months later, he has not smoked.