All of us have made some mistakes in our lives.  Perhaps the most important thing about these mistakes is how we deal with them and what we learn from them.

Every week I see patients in the office who smoke.  My advice is always that they should make every effort to quit, no matter what it takes.  Patients usually give me the same excuses about why they cannot quit.  I tell them that I am on their side in their efforts to stop smoking, but often I am told “you just don’t understand”.  It is difficult to stop smoking.  I know because I was a smoker myself.

I grew up at a time when everyone seemed to smoke — my dad, my uncles, other doctors — everyone.  I smoked when I was in college and medical school and even during some of my training, so did almost all the doctors around me.  I was young.  I was stupid.  Even when I really became aware of the hazards of smoking I continued with the habit proving my point about the seriousness of this addiction.  Stopping smoking was one of the hardest things I have done in my life and I tried several times before it happened.

I really do understand how difficult it is to stop smoking.  I have done it.  I have learned that it is difficult.  I have learned that nothing makes it happen.  You need to expect the discomfort of withdrawal from this habit, but it is never too late to quit.