James' father was well liked and influential in the community. He also was a smoker. So James' attempts to be more like his father naturally included smoking cigarettes, starting at age 14. But 30 years later, the damage from smoking started causing him health problems, and eventually he decided to quit.
Now 48, James has been smoke-free for 2 years. He says quitting was hard—patches and sugar-free gum helped him—but his health continues to be a big motivator. Since he quit smoking, James has been able to make other important changes to improve his health. He became an avid cyclist, and began riding several miles to see his doctor at the VA hospital, "…a real accomplishment for me." Now that he sees a doctor closer to his home, he still makes a point to ride 9 or 10 miles every day for exercise. He also enjoys swimming and does some sort of cardio exercise every morning.
James wanted to participate in the Tips From Former Smokers campaign to send a message to people who think smoking isn't going to hurt them just because they haven't experienced a smoking-related health problem yet. He says if you smoke, you should quit.
"I want to help people like me quit smoking—people in their forties. Maybe nothing really bad has happened to them yet," says James. "Maybe you're lucky, but you're probably not going to stay lucky."
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- CDC/Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717