Gerry Pouncey: On the front

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 31, 1999

lines of battle against smoking


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Where there’s a will, there’s a way but Gerry Pouncey hasn’t found it yet.

Even Pouncey’s strongest will hasn’t been strong enough to kick the smoking habit.

She has been smoking for 45 years and was up to a carton and a half a week when she decided, it’s now or never.

She enrolled in a smoking cessation program at her place of work, Hudson Industries, in November hoping the program would help her do what she had been unable to do alone.

"I started smoking when I was 16 and back then nobody told you smoking was bad for you," Pouncey said. "We were sending cigarettes overseas for our armed forces and that sent a message that, supposedly, they were good for you."

Pouncey said she never knew of anyone who tried to quit smoking "back then."

Today, all of that has changed.

"We know that cigarettes cause all kinds of health problems for the smoker and, now, we know they hurt other people. I don’t want to keep hurting myself and I sure don’t want to hurt anyone else," Pouncey said. "But I have always thought I could do anything I wanted to do but I cannot do this."

Because of the smoking cessation program and the support of her co-workers and her family, Pouncey has cut down from more than 300 cigarettes a week to about three packs.

"Sixty cigarettes is a lot less than what I was smoking, but I haven’t been able to throw them in the garbage can and say, ‘That’s it!’" she said. "I’m still fighting like the devil."

However, it’s a fight that Pouncey believes she can win – battle by battle.

"With me, and probably with a lot of people, my biggest battle is more with the habit of smoking than with the addiction to nicotine," she said. "It’s a psychological attachment – like a baby with a bottle. When a baby gets upset, you can stick a bottle in his mouth and he’ll calm down. That’s the way it is with me and a cigarette."

Pouncey said it’s that psychological attachment that is out battling her.

"If I could throw cigarettes away, I would, but I have to know they are there," she said. "Cigarettes are like a car. You may not need it but you want to know its out there."

Pouncey is keeping cigarettes "handy" in the event of a panic attack, so she doesn’t have that pressure facing her and she is learning to break the psychological attachment, thanks to the cessation program.

"Because smoking is a habit as well as an addiction, I’m trying to break the habit and it’s working," she said. "In the program, they told us to break the habit of smoking in a certain place. Every morning, I would sit down with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Now, I get up and make by bed or sweep the floor instead."

Smoking and driving seemed to "naturally" go together for Pouncey and that’s a habit that she has got to break if she is going to kick the smoking habit.

"I’m trying deep breathing to take my mind off smoking and that helps a little," she said. "But, one thing that is really helping me is that Hudson doesn’t allow us to smoke in the building anymore. I really appreciate that because, if I can’t smoke, I won’t smoke."

Pouncey said other employees at Hudson are also trying very seriously to quit smoking.

"We kind of support each other," she said. "Like they said in the program, cigarettes can become your best friend and a best friend is hard to give up."

Editor’s note: Gerry Pouncey has agreed to allow The Messenger to follow her battle to kick the smoking habit in hopes it will encourage others to struggle along with her. Watch for weekly updates on her progress in the Friday Messenger until the battle is won.