We’re celebrating the World No Tobacco Day and I am happy to share something I never thought I’d ever write: I have quit smoking.

I used to be a proud heavy smoker for 29 years; lately I got angry if they didn’t allow me to use smoke-free heated tobacco in a restaurant. Now, more than two months after I quit, the reek of tobacco smoke makes me retch, I don’t need to light a cigarette when I drink coffee first thing in the morning and I can finally wear turtlenecks without feeling strangled. My house is now scattered with rustling wraps from (supposedly sugar-free) candy , but the stinky ashtrays are gone forever. When I get angry I am now able to calm down without having to lie myself that smoking is my go-to shrink. It’s dawned on me that buying cigarettes is such a waste of money. I am certain I took the best decision ever when I quit.

March 19 is now marked as a big day in my personal calendar. I’ll never forget it and I’ll celebrate it every year from now on as if it were my second birthday. It’s a holy day for me.

I had bought the book somewhere in December but I lacked the guts to start reading it – this was my last resort. I had bet all my money on it and knew that if this failed, then I was hopeless. Procrastinating, I kept saying: ”I’ll start reading it on New Year’s Day” or “I’ll start it on Monday” or “The day after tomorrow, when I get home, I’ll read it in peace and quiet”. Delay after delay until it was clear that I was only fooling myself. So I grabbed it and chose the easy way to stop smoking.

What’s even more motivating and worth celebrating is my belief that I quit for good. Back in my youth I used to think smoking helped me make friends, be part of a social circle. Now I think the effect is the exact opposite: smoking makes you a freak that people want to avoid. I might be some sort of a radical, but the last couple of months made me perceive smokers as “old school” and “not so cool”. They seem to miss the whole point: it’s living, not filling your lungs with smoke. Unbelievable how quickly I converted 😌.

I might have continued to smoke until I turned 80 if I hadn’t started a project as big as life. So I thought to myself: “You’re travelling all the way to the North Pole and you’re going to smoke there, you stupid old fool? No way!” My first trip to Svalbard Archipelago is planned for July – I would be smoke-free for four months by then. Numbers worked their miracle, probably – I read somewhere that three months after you quit, the dopamine level gets back to normal and your brain won’t beg for nicotine anymore.

So here I am one month before leaving, getting ready for the Arctic, checking box after box. My training schedule is going according to plan. Moreover, I am about to start walking for 10 kilometres every day. My electric scooter is ordered, soon to arrive. I only need an appointment with the hair stylist so as to make sure I look good in the pictures.

Here are some memories from my old life. In this video I was heavily polluting the pure and frigid air of Iceland. In this photo I had just pulled out my head from the hood (I used to hide and puff like this in airports). I was such a pathetic addict that they caught me smoking on my flight to Cuba (in the airplane toilet, of course).