From the winning entries found on, Un-Hooked: The OHSU Tobacco-Free Story Contest.
It was New Year’s Eve. My family was gathered around my dad who was lighting the pack’s worth of cigarettes that he had stuffed in his mouth. His mouth was wide-open, and every last inch of space was filled with a cigarette. It was quite a sight to behold, especially to my eleven year old eyes. He had made a resolution to quit smoking. After years of throwing away his cigarettes, and displaying my own versions of anti-smoking posters around the house, I was thrilled that he was finally quitting.
A couple of months later, I caught him in the garage with a lit cigarette in his hand. I was devastated. At the time, I was too little to understand how hard it is to quit smoking. Five years later, I found a bunch of his little red and white cardboard packs, still filled with cigarettes, sitting in the garbage. But this time, he was the one who had thrown them away. He said, “I went to the doctor today. He told me that if I don’t quit smoking I am going to have a heart attack, and I might not get the chance to say goodbye to my children. I can’t bear the thought of that.” He quit cold turkey. I never saw him smoke another cigarette again.
Today, my dad is seventy two, and he has seen his three daughters graduate from college, get married, and have kids. Much to my delight, he sat in the audience, filled with pride, when I graduated from medical school. By broaching the topic of quitting smoking, that doctor saved my dad’s life. I try and remember that when I see my own patients now.