Here we feature the first interview in this series, with Canan Bolatlar, Head of the Records and Archives Unit. Congratulations on making the decision to quit smoking!How long did you smoke? How many cigarettes a day?
I smoked for 28 years, 10 cigarettes a day. Even though I was facing a lot of pressure during that time, I tried to quit; but since I tended to become too irritable and difficult to get along with, I gave up.
When did you decide to quit smoking? What influenced your decision the most?
For a long time, I never considered quitting. But then I saw some of my close friends quit smoking, and as I watched their efforts, I started to have second thoughts. Just before the pandemic entered our lives, a very close friend of mine from school was diagnosed with advanced COPD. Breathless, silent, and in pain… his helpless eyes caused me to finally make the decision.
What kind of plan did you follow? Who did you get help from? Was it hard?
I got help from the 171 Quit Smoking hotline and from a dear friend who had quit smoking. Even though I couldn’t go to the hospital due to the pandemic, I took the recommended medications on the basis of preliminary discussions with my doctors. I didn’t experience any side effects from the medication. I never got angry; on the contrary, it was a very calm, quiet process.
When did you quit smoking?
I quit smoking on April 15, 2020. On my 50th birthday, I gifted myself a smoke-free life. The reactions I got from other people were always very positive and supportive.
What kinds of effects – physical, mental and social – has not smoking had on you?
In terms of the physical effects, I started to lead a much more active life. Sports were already part of my life, and now I see that I’m stronger and more enthusiastic about sports I couldn’t do before. Mentally, I feel like my soul is calmer. I no longer have questions like, “Will I become irritable and lash out at people around me if I quit smoking?” Now, I have a more positive perspective than before. I’ve realized that smoking affected my social life a lot. In the past, I didn’t mind being in places where people were smoking, as I was also a smoker. But now I see how disturbed people are by the smoke and the smell, and I experience the same feelings.
As I continue my life breathing more freely, I’m very happy to see that my close friends are going toward the fresh air too….
I thank Dr. Mete Aker and Dr. Başak Soyluoğlu for all their support throughout my journey to a smoke-free life.