2019 winners announced in March!
I started smoking in high school in 2010 for absolutely no good reason. I thought it would help me fit in at the time but it didn’t occur to me that I would be spending countless amounts of money on cigarettes for the next 8 years. One of the main reasons I started to cut back (and eventually quit) is because I have been thinking about starting a family in the next couple of years and I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my health. Cigarettes were also giving me daily heartburn, morning cough, and a sore throat on top of all of the other unpleasant side effects of smoking such a bad breath, skin breakouts and just the overall smell of smoke. Another reason why I quit is because it affected the relationships that I have with people around me. There’s no doubt that my parents were disappointed when they first found out I started smoking around the age of 15. Then we have my friends, who would never say anything but were directly affected by my second-hand smoke. It really occurred to me that I should stop smoking when I would be around my best friends’ children. What kind of example was I setting? I’ve tried quitting in the past with no motivation to do so and that’s why I’ve failed numerous times. I think that’s the important part; just because you can’t get through it the first or second time around doesn’t mean you can’t quit, it simply means that you aren’t ready. I am blessed to have the support of my boyfriend who has been so very patient with me and who quit smoking over a year ago. To cut back and quit, my goal was to make one pack last me as long as it possibly could and when the pack was empty, I would not return to the store for another. This was the hardest part and where I failed a few times. We all know how much we want something when we don’t have it. The second hardest part was trying to control my irritability with others and my stress level, especially at work. Other than the family aspect, the reasons I stay motivated to leave the pack behind are the roof over my head and my new wheels. We have just bought a house and I have just bought myself a new truck as a reward for quitting smoking.
Quitting smoking has given me more lung capacity to do the things I love, like enjoying all day long snowshoe adventures with my better half. Now I encourage YOU to LEAVE THE PACK BEHIND and share your story, tips and tricks for others who are struggling with quitting toxic habits such as smoking cigarettes.
Hannah Mahaffy, Timmins
My name is Deepak. I am sharing my story with you all with the support of wouldurather. I was so blind enough to convince myself smoking is the only way to hide my depression. I had to keep myself high and boost my energy levels. I tried to give up many times in the past, but those attempts never lasted more than a couple of days. But, after I signed up with the contest, I registered my mind to say “NO!” every time I think about smoking during the time period. Cravings were strong for the first few days then they were gone. Saying No became most powerful tool which made me to take decisions and control my life. I am very thankful to have stopped and now I understand how bad I must have smelled to my friends and family. Now, I can breathe better and I can now go for runs again!
Deepak Rai, Kitchener
I started smoking full-time when I was 15 years old. Since then, I have smoked around 15 cigarettes per day. I noticed, during the 9 years that I have been a smoker, that I was becoming tired from doing basic tasks, running out of breath often and restricted from living a healthy lifestyle. I wanted to go to the gym and play sports again but I felt as though the effects from smoking was affecting this immensely. My main goal is to quit smoking for good. Although I have cut back significantly from last year, I still feel as though there is a long way to go. I wanted to become smoke-free in order to become healthier again. I want to be able to do the things I used to do and lead a normal life without smoking.
In the past, I tried using nicotine replacement; however, they had too many negative side effects. I tried to quit cold turkey but I relapsed often. I tried ‘vaping’ but it made me feel as though I never really quit smoking or cut back because there was nicotine in the vape product. I decided that this year was the year that I finally make a change for my health. I started tracking how many cigarettes I was smoking, when I smoked, and why. I found that the most challenging aspect of my cutting back journey was breaking the habit. I used to smoke when I was bored, or when I felt stressed. It was difficult to overcome my cravings and find alternate ways to “de-stress” or do other things when I was bored. I often found myself obsessing about smoking a cigarette. Since I have regained control, I have been able to tell myself, “you don’t need a cigarette right now, why don’t you go for a walk instead.” It is easier for me to say no to a cigarette and occupy myself by doing other things. I have cut back from 15 cigarettes a day to 5 a day and I haven’t felt better in years. I am noticing a change in my mood and my health. I am now able to go down to the gym and run for thirty minutes, whereas three months ago I would have only been able to run for five. The contest kept me motivated to keep going and not give up on myself. I have support from my family and my friends during this time that made it easier for me as well. I want to keep cutting back over the next couple of months and fully reach zero. I aspire to be smoke-free and want to be 100% healthy and happy, like I was before I started smoking.
Vanessa Stanojevich, Ajax
It was the end of high school during a very stressful time in my life that I first started smoking. First it started out as casual smoking while partying or drinking but later progressed to be an every day thing. I noticed quite early I was associating my smoking habit with stress and would turn to smoking in any stressful situation. The reason I decided to cut back was I saw such an increase in the amount I was smoking, so much that I took notice and was wondering if it was adding to my overall "Un well" feeling that I was experiencing. The holidays were approaching and thought what better time to quit and start the new year off with a foot in the right direction. Seeing this contest gave me the extra little push and incentive to carry out the goals I already had for the new year, the chance to make some money that I could really use doing something that will also benefit me, it was a win/win situation! The hardest part about cutting back was definitely stress smoking and going out. I cut back on going out and being in an environment where I would be tempted to smoke. Eliminating as much stress as possible and substituting smoking with things like running, working out and eating healthier helped a lot with cutting back. Keeping the momentum I have gained going, all of the positive results and overall much healthier feeling/attitude I have adopted with just cutting back are my reasons to continue my journey on "Leaving The Pack Behind!"
Stephen Earl, Toronto
I started smoking on parties about 5 years ago. I think the biggest reason was because a lot of my friends were smoking and staying alone inside while everyone is going out for a "smoke" always seemed kind of boring. I kept smoking because I always thought a few cigarettes don't wouldn't harm. I thought about quitting before but I never made a hard decision. Leave the pack behind gave me a solid reason to finally quit consequently. The reason I decided to quit is primarily my health. I see how many people get serious diseases and the cigarettes at parties are definitely not worth risking my health. I think most challenging is when people around you keep smoking and ask to go for a smoke while I'm in a bad mood. Then it's hard to resist but it helped me that a lot of my friends also decided to quit. I try to do more sports to stay healthy as one can't put a price tag on health.
David Schultheiss, Toronto
I decided to sign-up for the wouldurather... contest because I wanted to challenge myself. The reason why I started smoking while partying is because; I’ve always been around people who smoked (including my parents), and especially while going out to the bar. I only ever smoked while drinking. The reason why I want to become completely smoke-free is because; I want to keep my lungs healthy and clean. The thing I found most challenging is being intoxicated and being around people who smoked! In that moment I’m not thinking about how bad it is for me. My motivation is living a long, healthy life and smoking puts me at risk. Another healthy change I made is; I recently decided to change my diet because I’ve noticed I’ve gained some weight and I wasn’t eating healthy either. I also cut don’t drinking quite substantially. Overall, it was a great learning experience and I’ve definitely recommend to try it.
Eve Trapper, Timmins
My name is Michaela Khan and I signed up for the contest in the Don’t Start and Win category because I would rather stay fit and healthy. What motivates me to keep smoke free is being able to fully participate in sports and activities. Refraining from smoking allows me to have more time to spend with friends and doing other healthy activities. I’m so happy this contest exists to give people a reason not to start smoking and to help those who do!
Michaela Khan, London
The reason I decided to stay smoke-free is I am becoming a nurse. I understand the negative effects it has on the body and I have come from a smoke-free family so I have never had the urge to start smoking. What I found most challenging during my journey was trying to convince loved ones and close friends to try and quit or cut back. I find it difficult to see others smoking when the potential health risks that come with smoking can be so harmful.
The thing that motivates me to stay smoke free is my friends and my family. My whole family such as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all smoke-free. I have unfortunately lost great aunts and uncles to lung cancer which was brought on my smoking and this has not only motivated myself, but my whole family to be smoke-free.
I have been making other healthy behavior changes over the past 6 weeks such as eating healthier and being active. By keeping busy I have not ever felt the urge to try smoking. I have bought a gym membership and have been motivating my family to be healthier as well. My family is my greatest support in helping me be smoke-free.
Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to inspire others to be smoke free!
Rebecca Kennedy, Dryden
I entered this year for my son. He is now growing up in a smoke-free home and I have more time to play and read to him. I have used your online resources and phone apps to help me stay on track with quitting. Sometimes it’s the little extra incentive that helps me keep on track too.
Makenzie Kendall, Janetville
I have been trying to quit smoking for a while now, although I had cut down significantly, I thought that knowing being around others working towards it with me would motivate me to try harder.
Mishal Thampi, Scarborough
I quit smoking this year and wanted an extra motivation to keep me from going back.
Alison Hill, Burlington
I entered wouldurather… because it is a good incentive to not start smoking due to the negative health effects of smoking.
Brandon McAuley, Sudbury
I entered the contest because I thought it was a good idea to challenge myself [considering] the amount of times I smoke, and eventually reaching my goal which is to stop or at least smoke less.
Job Moise, Peterborough
I was compelled to quit by noticeable changes in my health, financial constraints and a frim vision of the future. I had already been smoke-free for a month when I found out about the contest.
Keenan Lachance, London
I entered the contest to challenge myself to quit smoking that I used to do at some parties.
Madhav Chadha, Kitchener
After countless times of trying to quit smoking, I feel that I am finally ready to really quit for good. The urge to smoke is gone.
Patrick Chisholm, Ottawa
I entered the wouldurather… contest because I want to keep my body healthy to live longer.
Reed John Alcancia, Windsor
I entered because I have family members who smoke and I wish they would quit. Also, contests with prizes are the best!!
Sarah Kraayenbrink, Wallaceburg
I entered this contest as encouragement to stay smoke-free, and to encourage others to reduce and quit smoking!
Carlina Marcheses, Brampton
I wanted to share my experience to all people smoking out with no reason. If you want to stop it start trying. From today I use to smoke a lot and I started coughing and it was [a] never end[ing] thing and I decided to stop and I start to stick with 2 smokes a day and then slowly stop.
Dipen Patel, Vaughan
I’ve shown interest in quitting recently and I felt I had nothing to lose from joining the contest.
JT Palmieri, Woodbridge