A while back, I was beginning to note that cigarette butts on sidewalks were diminishing significantly, but just lately I noticed that they seem to be coming back.

I hope I’m wrong. “&*+)_#@!@#.” I really hope I’m wrong. I get emotional about nicotine addiction, and it is an addiction, make no mistake, it is an addiction.

Why would someone pay about $4 a pack if they were not addicted?

Smoking cigarettes while a senior in high school in 1952 was the most stupid thing I ever did.

Stopping that addiction in 1976 was the smartest thing I ever did. I had tried to quit several times over the years, but nicotine is strong stuff. Before you can begin to quit smoking, you have to say to yourself that you are addicted to nicotine. Calling it a “bad habit” doesn’t cut it.

What really spurred me into the battle was the death of a good friend. He had been trying to quit Salem cigarettes, but he couldn’t make it. Several times he had been taken to the hospital because of his heart condition, but he could not quit.

There came the day when his heart just stopped, and his wife and five kids were suddenly alone. I went to the funeral, then I went home and threw away anything and everything in my possession that had to do with cigarettes.

There were people who told me that being emotional does not normally lead to kicking the habit. “It isn’t a habit,” I said, “It is an addiction.”

The worst part of the battle is the weight-gain, so I started running, and then I bought a Raleigh Bicycle, but I did not smoke, not one time.

But I kept gaining weight, a lot of weight.

Time went by, however, and slowly I began to stabilize.

I should mention, too, that when I quit in 1976, I lived in Tuscaloosa.

The next year, in 1977, I moved to Auburn. I lost some weight, and I slowly got my sense of humor back.

It bothers me that kids are still smoking, some will even die from it.

Tobacco companies are just as good at marketing as they have always been, and I guess peer pressure is just as strong as it has always been.

A lot of people still smoke, and I guess there will always be some people who find pleasure in smoking a cigarette, but it is an addiction … not a habit.

The smartest thing you can do is to not smoke a cigarette. It is like any addiction. It is costly, and it kills.


Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at morgarg7@aol.com