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A Quitter Goes the Distance

*I'm Marc Clark, and I'm ready to quit." *

With those eight words, Marc Clark, a native Washingtonian, committed to a smoke-free life. With a call to Washington, D.C., Tobacco-Free Families (DCTFF) counselors, Clark realized that "Asking for help makes all the difference in the world."

For two months, Clark, a heavy smoker for 34 years, chronicled the ups and downs of becoming a non-smoker. Here are some of the key episodes along his journey to greater health and fitness:

Thursday, June 28 (Day 1)

The idea of keeping a journal to reflect on my progress with quitting tobacco is interesting. I suppose I'll be able to look back on my smoking days when I become Marc, the non-smoker. There really is something about becoming somebody new, adopting a new identity-when you give up a habit that is 34 years old!

Friday, June 29 (Day 2)

Today was a little more of a challenge. I still only had two [cigarettes] in the [morning] before leaving home. I was able to cut down from my regular num�ber of cigarettes-the [morning] cigarettes are the ones I seem to crave the most. With [my] Quit Day on July 13 and my goal to be down to 10 a day by then, I feel like I am making good progress.

Sunday, July 1 (Day 4)

I have been avoiding my [morning] coffee each day since Thursday. I am not sure if that is related to postponing the morning smoke. I also have cut out a few other automatic smokes: the ones during each hour of prime time TV commercials when I run out to the front porch and the auto�matic one while getting in the car is really hard to cut out, but I cut out that one.

Tuesday, July 3 (Day 6)

Still coasting on a pack I bought Sunday! Not bad for a former pack-a-day man. I remember my Mom once telling me how her dad, Grandpa, would act like he didn't notice her smoking because she never smoked in front of him-neither did we-out of respect. Grandpa lived to be 82 years old; Mom died at 63 when I was 31 years old.

Thursday, July 5 (Day 8)

Still trying to monitor which cigarettes are easiest to eliminate. I am going to try and jump the gun and beat "Q" Day-July 13-by going cold turkey for as long as possible.

Saturday, July 7 (Day 10)

Wow! "Q" Day came and went! Thursday was smoke-free. By Saturday I really began to notice the difference in breathing-no phlegm-a genuinely noticeable sinus difference.

Monday, July 9 (Day 12)

I had a few bad moments, but I guess it is surprising how little I miss smoking. The biggest change is not having a smoke to kind of punctuate the day's transitions.

Wednesday, July 25 (Day 28)

Fourteen days. I was telling a friend two weeks without cigarettes is the longest I've gone since I started smoking 34 years ago.

Tuesday, July 31 (Day 34)

I had a conference call with my brothers and sisters this weekend and spent time talking about other relatives' needs. It reminded me of feeling the desire to take steps to be healthy. Then I thought about the DCTFF Public Service Announcements and D.C. Black males dying at 57-I am 51.

Sunday, August 26 (Day 60)

I told my brother Tim about 1-800-QUIT NOW. With the counseling sessions, the lozenges, the booklets, all these "cues" to behavior change, as we health educa�tors say, I really feel like I will never go back to smoking.

Saturday, September 8 (Day 73)

I had my last counseling call from the D.C. quit line today. On July 11, I smoked my last cigarette so that on September 11 it will be officially two months.

The D.C. Tobacco-Free Families Campaign is helping D.C. smokers quit now and stay smoke-free. Go to Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to live...smoke-free.

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