In 1981, I was a junior at Graham High School in Northwest, Texas. And I succumbed to the temptation to start smoking cigarettes.

Smoking was different back then: our high school had a "smoker's patio" where we could indulge in our vice during lunch or other breaks. You didn't even have to have an ID to purchase cigs. Smokers were not considered "criminals".

My parents were not thrilled with the fact, but what could they say: They smoked. Mother had quit a year earlier and was disappointed in me.

Back then, I was paying .65 a pack and a pack of 20 would last me 3 or 4 days. I kept telling myself I wasn't going to get hooked on it. I'd quit. Eventually. Yeah!

By the time I was 21, I was up to a pack a day. I kept telling myself that when cigarettes went over $1.00 a pack, I'd quit.... then it was $2.00 --- $3.00 --- $4.00

I am now 45 years old and smoke at LEAST 2 packs a day. I'm hooked. Yesterday, I went to Speedy Stop and paid $6.50 plus tax for ONE pack of cigs.

ENOUGH! I sat down and really thought about this. Yes, I did the math and figure I'm spending $400.00 per month on cigarettes. That's $4,800.00 a year that is going NO WHERE. It's time to stop!

When my mother stopped, she just woke up one morning and decided: "I don't like cigarettes and I don't want to smoke anymore." And she never lit up again. I envy her will power.

I know I can do it. I also know it's going to be hard. And honestly, I'm scared. What if I can't do it? What if I gain 50 lbs and become even more hideous than I already am? What am I going to do with my hands and my mouth while I'm driving, watching TV, typing on the computer? What if I get irritable and become the bi*ch from HeLL(0)?

I do have a strategy and am prepared: Sunday night, when I go to bed, I'll put on a nicotine patch. Upon waking Monday morning, I'll not light up, but brush my teeth and maybe chew on a piece of celery or a carrot stick. During the day, I'm planning no keeping occupied keeping a good supply of gum handy.

I know all the data -- it takes 7 days to get through the nicotine withdrawals. -- every day I am smoke free, my lung capacity increases ever so slightly. -- every month I am smoke free, I add more time to my life expectancy. -- I will feel better -- I will smell better -- I won't feel trapped.... -- I will save nearly $5000 every year just on the addiction -- and probably 20 times that much in long term medical care.

I'd like anyone who has kicked the habit recently to reply to this blog with any advice. What worked for you? What did you do to combat the cravings and jitters?

If you want to reply with your criticisms and anti-smoking prejudices, skip it! I've heard them all and have been criticized and judged by people I actually cared about and they couldn't get me to quit.

3 days til quitting!!!!