BERLIN – Jack Galbraith started smoking near the end of WWII. He would make a weekly trip to town with one of the farmhands and meet up with Dutch immigrants hanging around the potbelly stove in the general store and enjoy a weekly cigar. If the setting and the date don’t suggest the attitude change with regards to smoking that’s occurred over the last six decades, the fact that Galbraith was 5 years old at the time might.
When he was 6 years old his parents moved south of Philadelphia and Galbraith switched from the occasional cigar to cigarettes and, with the exception of a seven month stint last year, he’s been smoking ever since.
When he retired from the small plastics manufacturer after 45 years he hadn’t really considered quitting smoking as an option. In 2007 when Galbraith underwent open-heart surgery – a double bypass and aortic valve replacement – he continued to smoke through his recovery, but last year he figured it was time to quit.
Galbraith and his wife, Renda, will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary in May. They have two daughters, Jodi and Holly, both of whom had success quitting smoking. The first time they tried to quit as a couple, both tried Chantix but only one had any success. As it turned out, Renda had one of the rarest reactions to the drug possible, breaking out with a terrible rash on her face that required her to stop taking the drug. Her husband has better luck.
“The first time I’d quit by the third week,” he said. “I quit for seven months.”
Galbraith has Part B Medicare, which makes Chantix and out-of-pocket expense for him. Although the county subsidized the first three months, and that was all Galbraith felt he needed at the time, his drug expense was just under $60 per month.
He also took part in the county-sponsored smoking cessation support group, which benefited him immensely, he said.
“It’s good to hear other people’s problems with quitting,” he said. “What they’ve been going through.”
One of the most common smoking recidivist stories involves a series of overwhelmingly stressful days followed by the opportunity to have just one cigarette. Galbraith had a significant amount of personal stress to deal with and when the opportunity to begin smoking again presented itself, he took it.
Prescription help from the county is only available once per calendar year so as soon as the year was up – four months after he’d started smoking again – he renewed his attempt. Galbraith signed up for the support group and selected Chantix as his method once again.
But it’s been a little harder this time. According to Galbraith, the cravings were almost immediately gone the last time. This time the cravings have yet to subside, which makes quitting pretty difficult.
The worst part is that while the cravings continue, giving in and smoking isn’t helpful. It’s almost as it Chantix is a behavioral drug, taking away the reward the brain gets from smoking until the body responds appropriately.
Galbraith was back up to more than a pack a day after starting smoking again this year and has cut back to around half-a-pack daily. But Galbraith said he’s going to stay at it and hopefully quit this time for good.