San Antonio, Texas
Kids: Bruno, 8, and Marco, 7
"This is the first time I'm trying to quit. I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, and I went online to research health issues caused by smoking. I cried reading cancer patients' journals -- about the pain of chemo and how their toddlers wondered why their mom wasn't strong enough to go to the park. I don't want to be terminally ill. I want to see my kids grow up to be responsible adults and enjoy my empty nest with my husband one day because he's my best friend."
Years smoked: 20
Cigarettes per day: 10 to 15
Triggers: Driving, finishing a meal, coffee, taking a break from work, hanging out with friends, concentrating
Kids: Alex, 10, and Justin, 7 (at left)
"I started smoking to seem cool, and it became part of my identity. My grandfather died of brain cancer when my dad was 16. The night I decided to quit, I'd had a headache for three days and smoking made it 100 times worse. A million scary thoughts ran through my head. I wanted to see my sons graduate, get jobs, have children! I was tired of covering up my breath and using perfume to hide the smell. I realized that the only thing I was getting out of smoking was a huge headache and a nail in my coffin."
Years smoked: 21
Cigarettes per day: 10
Triggers: Experiencing stress, being around friends who smoke, feeling bored
Kids: Andrew, 1 year
"I quit when I was pregnant. I went back to work part-time when my son was 4 months old. Several months later, we had horrible flooding in our city. It was very scary, and I bummed a few cigarettes from my neighbor, but then I started buying my own packs. I kept it a secret from my husband at first because I knew it would upset him. Smoking gives me two minutes to myself that I wouldn't take otherwise -- but I don't want to do it anymore, and I know that I shouldn't be doing it."
Years smoked: 10, on and off
Cigarettes per day: 6 to 10
Triggers: Disagreements with my husband or relatives, feeling overwhelmed, being bored, needing a little break
Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Parents magazine.
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