Jeremy Bennett

Focusing on What I Gained
As a former smoker, I know people tend to think of cigarettes as a friend, something reliable and there for you whenever needed. Consequently, even the idea of quitting smoking comes with feelings that you’re giving up something, and that can be hard for people. As someone who approaches life from different angles than others, I flipped the script and decided to focus on all that I had to gain by quitting this friend — for example, better health, more disposable income, and years added to my life. In the first several months of being tobacco free, I noticed gains in stamina and ease of breathing. After just a year, I realized how significant the cost savings were as I had more money for savings, vacations, and other rewards. I have also saved over $1,500 the past five years in healthcare premiums by confidently signing the tobacco-free affidavit! Reflecting upon my journey at the five-year mark of being tobacco free, I was thrilled to discover that I’ve added substantial years to my life. According to research, it’s estimated that based on the age I quit, about nine to ten years have been added to my lifetime.

My relationships have also been positively impacted. During this major life change, I have been fortunate to be supported by my partner (who quit along with me), family, friends, and coworkers. Most know that I smoked for two decades and were ecstatic that I finally chose to kick the habit. And as the majority of them are non-smokers, they no longer have to put up with the cigarette smoke/odors. The money I save by being tobacco free allows me to more freely go to concerts, attend fun get-togethers, and donate to charitable causes close to my heart. Also, I am not constantly looking for an “out” to go get a cigarette fix, which allows me to cultivate relationships on a much more meaningful level. A couple of family members are now actively trying to quit smoking, and my story has encouraged them to kick the habit.

Jeremy and family at the beach
Jeremy portrait
Jeremy and a friend at the beach

My work life has also improved. I feel much more proud and less self-conscious as a non-smoker among non-smoking colleagues. I am more at ease throughout the day because I do not have a dependency on the chemicals in tobacco, which can make you irritable and restless. I don’t have to worry about watching the clock, eagerly anticipating my next smoke break. I don’t have to worry about going out in the extreme heat or cold to get that fix. As a result, I’m more focused on work and important tasks at hand. I also joined the Wellness Coalition on the Bloomington campus, something I would have not felt comfortable joining had I been a smoker. Through my participation, I am able to spread the word about Healthy IU programs and services to staff and faculty in my department. I’ve also participated in a few programs with my colleagues, so we have bonded over things not related to our work (e.g., Tai Chi, Bowling, and Personal/Work Resiliency, to name a few).

. . . I decided to focus on all that I had to gain by quitting . . . better health, more disposable income, and years added to my life.