by John Hoffman
Are you a smoker? Thought about quitting? No doubt you have. I have never been a
smoker myself. So I don’t feel qualified to give people advice about how to go about
quitting. However, few would argue the point that the health-related reasons for quitting
are compelling. And when you become a father there’s another big reason – setting a
good example (and being healthy) for your kids.
But, as we all know, smoking is an addiction, and addictions are hard to break. So
anybody who wants to quit usually needs more than just willpower. Fortunately, there are
now some great supports and products to help people quit including nicotine patches and
nicotine gum. And there is now a great Canadian resource called for fathers
who want to quit smoking. Dads in Gear is about more than just quitting smoking. It’s
also about healthy lifestyle and plain old being a good dad. But quitting smoking is a
One thing I really like about the site is the personal stories about quitting. I particularly
liked a video where a young dad named David talks about his reasons for quitting and
how he went about it. I really admire his honesty and his very direct way of speaking.
David tells a story about how three guys he was working with – all smokers – had all
come to work one day without cigarettes. That day was going to be day one of quitting
for them. David was all like, “I’m really going to try with you guys.” But in the back of
his mind he was thinking there was no way he could really do it. “I am not going to be
able to come to work without a pack of cigarettes,” he said. “Because it goes hand in
hand. You go to work and you bring your smokes. You make sure you have them before
you start your day.”
What’s interesting is that, of that group of four, David is the only one who ended up
quitting. And it was the thought of his family, particularly his baby son that motivated
him. “I didn’t want to be a father that smoked,” he says simply. David wanted his son to
grow up in a smoke-free environment, unlike himself, who grew up in a house where
both parents smoked.
But the thought of his family kept him going; that plus the fact that, as he puts it, “I really didn’t want to smoke.”
David says he never used non-smoking aids to stop the cravings. “I just thought about my
family. I felt like I would be a failure to them if I’m trying to quit smoking and then, here
I am having a cigarette.” At the time the video was made, David had been cigarette-free
for eight months. Ironically, he doesn’t feel like he’s an ideal role model. He’s afraid that
his story might seem to make it sound like quitting smoking is easier than it really is. “It
was really, really hard at times,” he says. But, the thought of his family kept him going;
that plus the fact that, as he puts it, “I really didn’t want to smoke.”
I have to think that this kind of personal story – unscripted, just a guy saying it in his own
words – is more effective than some expert rehashing all the health risks of smoking.
Most smokers already know the risks.
Dads in Gear has other personal quitting stories as well. The site also has information and
videos about healthy eating, active lifestyle, things to do with kids and information about
Dads in Gear groups in different towns in BC. It’s one of the best new resources for
fathers that I’ve seen recently.
And if a guy who wants to quit (and most smokers do and have tried at some point),
becoming a father is as good a motivation as I can think of. Dads in Gear is there to help.