IRENEO “Jung” Cases never planned to quit smoking. The Metrografix Inc. president had been smoking for 16 years and had tried and failed to kick the habit several times.
Then Cases started running on Aug. 1, 2009.
He thought of stopping smoking to see if he could improve his time. “When I finished my first 5K, I kept on wanting to beat my time in the next race until I realized my urge to smoke had (disappeared) without me knowing it,” Cases said.
Cases’s business partner, on the other hand, took to running and yoga as a way to kick a habit that was killing him. Ivee Alfredo Cabahug IV, Metrografix Inc. general manager, had been smoking also for 16 years and the nicotine addiction made him sick almost every month.
“My asthma and allergies were getting worse. I was rushed to the emergency room because I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack. After the incident, I swore not to smoke again,” he said.
By the time Ivee decided to stop, he was smoking one-and-a-half packs of cigarettes a day. His wife, Jopie, on the other hand, was smoking a pack a day, 16 years after lighting up her first stick because of peer pressure.
Ivee had tried quitting before. He lasted just one week. Ivee, who started “social smoking” in high school, said he wasn’t that motivated and regular night-outs “didn’t help.”
But when he finally decided to kick the habit for good, he took to running to deal with the withdrawal symptoms—substituting one addiction for another.
A week after Ivee stopped smoking, Jopie quit, too. Out of love, she said, prefacing it with “corny, I know.” But Jopie said she did not want Ivee’s struggle to quit become more difficult with her still smoking.
“He quit exactly 1 week before because I had to make sure he was serious with his quitting before I committed myself,” Jopie said.
The Cabahug couple’s lifestyle of smoking, coffee, alcohol and late night outs were replaced with early nights, no caffeine and alcohol, yoga and running.
Tito Miñoza Vildosola, on the other hand, started smoking when he worked for a call center with a team of account pioneers who were mostly smokers. He began smoking and drinking black coffee.
Tito, who plays football, said he smoked for 7 years and got up to two packs a day and another two packs at night, an expensive habit for a father of three young kids.
Tito’s wife, Irene, then joined the Cebu City Marathon last January and finished her first 5K race. She invited Tito to run with her in a race the following month.
Before he started to run, Tito tried and failed to quit a dozen times. He said he felt ashamed every time his children looked into his eyes and say “nag smoke lagi ka, Pa?”
Tito said running helped him quit smoking.
Smoking is in the headlines after several health advocates said incoming president Benigno Aquino III should stop smoking to set an example to people.
Quitting smoking is hard. I know. For many people, smoking is a psychological crutch.
It’s been more than a year since I kicked the habit but for the first few months, it was hell. The keyboard was an ashtray, the monitor a lighter. PHP code snippets contained the word “Marlboro.” Web avatars were asking me if I needed a light.
It got to a point that while editing a story I came close to breaking in tears. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t edit. I needed to smoke.
I eventually got through the ordeal with the help of family, friends and running.
Like Jung, Ivee, Jopie and Tito, I learned that the best way to kick an addiction is to replace it with another, albeit a healthier one. The urge to smoke gave way to the longing for running to wherever my feet took me.
There is no panacea. But if there’s something that comes close to being one, it’s running.