Steve Hendrix started his smoking habit at age 15 after he and a friend stole a pack of his mother’s cigarettes and tried them. “We thought it was cool – back in that time, everybody smoked,” he says. “Little did we know what it would do for the rest of our lives, but that’s how I got started.”
Hendrix joined the U.S. Marine Corp. in the mid-1980s and continued his habit as his commanding officers and many of his fellow soldiers also smoked. “Any time we weren’t in formation, if you got to take a break, it was always, ‘Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” he recalls.
As he reached his thirties, Hendrix relied on his smoking habit to get through the day, without really realizing it. “Cigarettes had control of me, and I would interrupt anything I was doing once that cigarette said I needed the nicotine,” he says. It got to the point where Hendrix would light his first cigarette of the day in the morning, take a puff and cough, and then grab a paper towel to stop his nose from bleeding.
Hendrix tried to quit using nicotine gum, lozenges, Chantix, even hypnosis, but nothing worked. Finally, his father suggested he attend a Freedom from Smoking class in Mt. Sterling. “Once I got there, and April the facilitator started educating me on what I was doing, the money I was spending, and the chemicals that were in cigarettes, I did an about face,” he says.
The format of the course – sharing stories, using a workbook with cessation exercises – turned out to be just what Hendrix needed to quit smoking for good. The breaking point came when Hendrix, who thought he smoked around a pack of cigarettes a day, realized he usually smoked that amount before noon each day after filling out a daily smoking record in the workbook. Now he’s smoke free and his health and overall enjoyment of life has drastically improved.
“I had to do it for myself,” he says. “Nobody else – not my children, not my grandchildren, I had to do it for me. Because if I don’t do it for me, I’m probably not going to succeed.”
This video is part of KET’s Smoking and Health initiative.