In a recent tweet, actor-politician Alfred Vargas shared his journey of kicking the habit of smoking in August 2003. He proudly announced his 20th year of being a non-smoker.
“I was in HS when I first tried. Nadala ako sa peer pressure nun. Coming of age time. Nagbibinata and trying to discover things. Start ng mga gimik, soiree, and barkadahan,” the Quezon City councilor revealed. When asked what made him want to quit the vice, he said, “I’ve always wanted to quit from the start. Di ko lang napansin na naging habit ko na before. My dad was a chain smoker I didn’t want to be like that.” The desire to live clean began while he was in showbiz. Alfred told himself he didn’t want to grow old with the habit. “It’s for my health and well-being, not for anything else.”
The struggle is real
Alfred does not want to create the illusion that quitting smoking is easy. He shared how difficult it was to drop the habit. “I experienced a two-month extreme withdrawal,” he said. “Nagkasakit ako. I got so hot-headed and easily irritated. I lost focus in everything I did I couldn’t even read properly.” During the initial phase of his new lifestyle, he did not go out to avoid temptations. “I sacrificed my short-term fun for my long-term goal of really being healthy. I lost some friends along the way because hindi raw ako marunong makisama at KJ na raw ako,” Alfred revealed.
What keeps him going
It has been twenty years since. Alfred shared how he has kept himself off the high-risk habit. His answer was quick and simple – FAMILY. “Right now, I have this burning desire to try my best to live longer, healthier and happier for my family. I want to see my children graduate, have successful careers of their own, meet my grandchildren and spend time with them. I want to travel the world further with my wifey and family,” he answered.
Another strong motivation for Alfred to stop smoking is his predisposed risk to illness. “My mother died of cancer kasi. And so did several of my relatives,” he revealed. “Natatakot ako sa cancer because of this family history. And the best way to minimize my chances is to live a healthy life and stay away from stress.”
These days, Alfred enjoys the benefits of living clean and being vice-free. What exactly did quitting smoking provide him? Alfred shared, “A healthy body and a sharp mind. I was able to lift heavier weights, run longer, sleep better, good state of mind, better mood, and I had a lot more energy after quitting smoking.”
Just like anyone else, temptations come from time to time. Alfred managed to stay on track for two decades now. He shared, “I tell myself, ‘been there, done that,’ and I don’t want to be that old self of mine anymore.” He admitted that staying vice-free remains a challenge until this day.
“But it’s a battle I intend to win every time. And so far, 20 years down the road, so far, so good,” he enthused.
As a celebrity and public figure who serves as an inspiration to others, Alfred offered advice to those who are still hooked on smoking. He said, “Do it now. There’s no perfect time for quitting but NOW. You can do it.”
“The way I did it was through cold turkey,” Alfred shared. “I stopped instantly. I remember distinctly that on the night of August 23, 2003, twenty years ago, I smoked my last pack.” Again, he reminded others that the journey will be hard but worth it. Alfred added, “It’s not easy. The first few days of quitting are manageable but it becomes more difficult as time passes. Hang out with people who don’t smoke, with people who have the same life goals and health goals as you.”
Alfred’s journey is proof that with bad habits, quitting means winning.