I had my last cigarette 365 days ago. I quit cold turkey after smoking for 14 years. To be honest, it was a very challenging year. But after hitting the one year mark today, I now know that I can do anything my heart desires. I tested my limits and I stopped doing the very bad thing that defined me for 14 year.

This realisation empowered me.

I had my last cigarette when I was stuck in traffic, on a Friday morning, 365 days ago. I forgot that I had another box of cigarette in the glove compartment. I was too occupied with trying to get to the office in time. So for 2 hours, I thought I had no cigarette. I said to myself, “Hey, let’s try not smoking for another 2 hours and after that, 2 more hours.”

So I made a silent emotional decision, in my car, on Jalan Tun Razak, "I will try not to light up until the end of that day and so on and so forth."

When I reached the office, I gave the box of cigarette that was in the glove compartment to my colleague and declared, “I want to quit smoking.” I avoided the designated smoking areas at my office for the next two weeks. I read online articles on the benefits of quitting and what I could do to minimize the nicotine withdrawal. I prepared myself for the change of habit and the difficulties that came along with it. I drank a lot of water and allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted to distract myself from the urge to have a cigarette. By the end of day 1, I noticed that my nose was as clean as a whistle and that I could breathe properly.

For the first time, in a very long time, I slept soundly that night.

The next 120 days were quite challenging as I had withdrawal symptoms which included fever, flu and dryness in my mouth. I went to see a few doctors who explained to me the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

One way to expel nicotine, which I discovered during my trip to Siem Reap, was to have a sauna bath and to sweat it out. I spent the remaining 245 days enjoying my life without being a slave to my tobacco craving. I did not have to look for smoking tables in restaurants or take smoking breaks. The best thing is that my car and clothes smell so much better these days.

I started smoking when I was 18. Some of my friends were enjoying their freedom away from their parents and took up smoking. I joined them and smoked for fun, initially. I never bought my own pack until a few months later when I foolishly decided to ‘start smoking seriously’. I told my friends that I could quit whenever I wanted to and that I make the decision. I was naïve.

I was a heavy smoker. I used smoking to feel good about myself. I thought I was cool. I didn’t realize that my breath smelled and my teeth stained. Smoking was everything to me. I was a proud smoker. I ignored and made fun of the gory photos on cigarette boxes detailing the effects of smoking.

The other reason why I quit was that cigarette was getting more and more expensive. When I started smoking in 2001, the price for a box of 20 cigarettes was RM4.50, when I quit, it was around RM 13.50. I was spending RM405.00 per month on cigarette.

That’s RM4860 a year!

The night before I had my last cigarette, I had a morbid thought. What if I get cancer and are unable to work and support my family? I thought about oral cancer and God forbid, death, and how it would affect the people around me.

The next 120 days were quite challenging as I had withdrawal symptoms which included fever, flu and dryness in my mouth.

I will not be preachy. I just want to share my experience with readers who want to live longer and watch their kids grow older, save up for that vacation or lead a healthy life. Whatever your reasons are, do it to please yourself, and not the people around you. Prove to yourself that you are a strong person. Seek the help you need to get through this. It will not be easy, the best things in life never are. Give yourself a realistic target; postpone lighting up for another hour, another day.

A year later, you too can proudly tell people that you are a quitter.