The Carlington Summit

Jim MacLean is an affable 51 year old who attributes his radiant good health and spirits to cigarettes - the lack of them, that is. Up until nine years ago Jim describes himself as being a couch potato - eating lots of cashews, not exercising, and smoking a pack and a half a day.

Today he enjoys life to the hilt, and - thanks to the cigarettes he does not smoke - he has a hefty RRSP balance. When he gave up the habit of lighting up, he invested the money he would have spent on cigarettes in mutual funds and now can look at the healthy amount he has for retirement. “I would never have been able to save that otherwise”, he said. “I would have smoked it away.”

When Jim quit the smoking habit just after Christmas in January ‘91, it was literally cold turkey. He came back from a family Christmas in Maxville with a terrible pain that kept him in the hospital for a number of days. The doctors never did diagnose the trouble, but when Jim headed for the smoking room (there were such rooms before the ban on smoking in hospitals), he couldn't bear the smoke that poured out when he opened the door. “That was it,” he said. “I just kept repeating the mantra - I'm not going to smoke, I'm not going to smoke - and it worked.”

Jim can hardly believe the change in his life. He feels better, he looks better, the doctor says he is in excellent health. He's a wonderful model for anyone who smokes who wants to quit - or find an excellent way to save money.

He lives in the west end and works at the Customs Excise Union on Woodward Drive. He walks five to ten kilometres a day, so if you see a tall man striding along with a happy smile, it may be Jim. “Life is good without cigarettes.”

Not everyone is as fortunate as Jim in being able to shake the nicotine habit so quickly. This month the Canadian Cancer Society introduced “One Step at a Time” - a breakthrough self-help, quit-smoking program designed to guide smokers every step of the way. And the timing couldn't be better: a new national Omnibus Millennium Survey commissioned by Novartis Consumer Health Canada indicates that twice as many smokers are thinking about quitting this holiday season as five years ago. A fresh start for the new millennium.

Quitting smoking doesn't just happen by making a new year's resolution, but that is a first step, says Cheryl Moyer, Director of Tobacco Control and Special Projects for the Canadian Cancer Society. “If you combine that intent to quit smoking with a solid understanding of the factors that lead people to succeed in changing their smoking behaviour, the chances of success are much greater.”

The Canadian Cancer Society has published a brochure and two booklets for people who are having difficulty in shaking the habit: For Smokers Who Don't Want to Quit, For Smokers who Want to Quit, and one for people who want to help a loved-one quit, If You Want to Help a Smoker Quit.

On the same theme, January 17 - 23 marks National Non-Smoking Week, This week, held in Canada in January every year, started out as an educational activity in 1977 and now has a life of its own. On Weedless Wednesday during this week, smokers are invited to give up smoking for one day. Of course, the whole idea of that exercise is to underline the importance of the campaign to abolish smoking everywhere.

The new One Step at a Time booklets are available to the public free of charge at the Canadian Cancer Society's national toll-free Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333. The CCS web site is Your local CCS office on Woodward Drive is always available to provide information on cancer and smoking (723-1744).