In 1976 a good friend of mine died as the result of a heart condition related to smoking cigarettes. He left a wife and four children. He tried to quit smoking, but he couldn’t.

At that time I smoked a pack a day … at least.

After I left his funeral I went home and vowed to quit, and somehow I did quit even though I did every thing wrong in the process.

You’re not supposed to “quit” in an emotional state, but that is exactly what I did.

I had a wife and two young children. My wife smoked, and she was going to quit, but she never did. She died, but not necessarily because she smoked.

So, the point is that I quit “cold turkey.”

Later, I found out that “cold turkey” doesn’t mean what most people think it means. I looked it up a long time ago, and if I remember correctly the phrase developed in the early 1900s, and it had to do with people who were trying to lose weight.

They would keep some cold turkey in the refrigerator for snacks, if they got hungry. The phrase represents a tapering off, and there are those who say that you cannot stop smoking by tapering off.

And I agree.

You just have to quit. And you have to mean it when you say it to yourself, even though some times you might laugh like a maniac when you say it to yourself.

What I did do was reward myself at the end of every day that I did not smoke.

Usually my reward was food … every thing from banana pudding to peach ice cream.

Yes, I gained weight, but the ex-smokers I talked to said losing weight was easier than dying from smoking. They were right.

One thing you have to realize is that when you decide to quit smoking you are not just breaking a bad habit.

You are fighting a deadly addiction to nicotine.

When you realize that you are an addict it becomes much more serious.

Smokers are addicts: The addiction is nicotine. This is not a game. This is an addiction that can kill you … one puff at a time.

Those television commercials put out by the Bureau of Health and Human Services are effective because they are real. Those commercials reminded me of the fact that I would probably be dead had I not quit.

I’m not the picture of health, but I am 79, and I walk a half-mile every day.

And you can save a ton of money if you quit.

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