Letter: Recalling the need to quit smoking forever

I want to thank Charlie Hodge for sharing his story and hope that a pair of healthy lungs is waiting for him.

To the editor:

After reading Charlie Hodge’s column: Regret for Developing a Smoking Habit (Sept. 13 Capital News), I felt moved to share my story.

I started smoking when I was 16 (1956) when smoking was still socially acceptable and encouraged. I remember (with embarrassment) standing in front of the Westbank cafe (our local hangout) with a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth and wearing sunglasses, trying to look cool.

Back then, smoking wasn’t considered a serious health risk and wasn’t associated with cancer.

I worked in the auto-body trade for 30 years repairing and painting vehicles, breathing in fumes from lead, mercury and other deadly toxic chemicals designed to destroy your health—and it did.

I developed a persistent cough, so I went to have my lungs X-rayed. My doctor told me that the bottom of my lungs were filled with gunk and were starting to collapse.

Faced with an unhealthy and shortened lifespan, I decided to quit smoking for good. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. After having quit before with little effort, I really struggled when I needed to quit the most.

After 10 months of quitting and starting again, I felt the mental and physical suffering from trying to quit was worse than smoking, so I gave up trying to quit.

But the damage was already done. My immune and respiratory systems were greatly compromised. I was prone to getting sick and coughed continuously for three months each year for many years.

If that wasn’t bad enough, my hair started falling out. And when I took a whiff of paint fumes, my lips would go numb and I felt hot spots in my body, and developed blotches on my skin. My sense of smell and taste diminished.

I had co-workers die from lung cancer, brain tumour and respiratory illness and others who had to quit working due to illness caused by inhaling dust and chemicals.

After working in the toxic environment for 30 years, while smoking up to two packs of cigarettes a day, I left to regain my health and the 30 years of potential life lost on the job.

Since my departure in 1990, when I was 50, (not from Earth, but from my job), I have been practicing and teaching Qigong-Tai chi and my health has slowly and surely improved.

This past winter my wife insisted that I go to see a doctor, because I was coughing at night, disturbing her sleep.

I had my lungs x-rayed and went to a respiratory specialist for tests. When I went back for the results, my doctor told me that my lungs were normal, and I had good lung capacity.

I am so grateful to Qigong-Tai chi exercise for restoring my health.

We all know that stress is the underlying cause of many illnesses and addictions, but did you know that ‘sitting’ is the new ‘smoking’?

It gives a whole new meaning to the saying: You lazy bum.

I want to thank Charlie Hodge for sharing his story and hope that a pair of healthy lungs is waiting for him.

I urge everybody to take responsibility for their health and life.

Now I am going to get off my ass, and take my 72-year-rejuvenated body out to practice Qigong-Tai chi.

Have a health, playful day.

Hajime (Harold) Naka,



Kelowna Capital News