Health: Quitting (smoking) hot

“I looked at the pack, and it was $5.75. I was halfway to my truck and I was like ‘What the hell?’ Why am I paying that much for something that’s going to kill me? They think they own me,” Turner said.

So Turner smoked the last pack, because he had already paid for it and it wouldn’t help anyone to just throw it away, and started his latest effort to quit. Shortly after stamping out his last cigarette he posted his desire to quit on Facebook.

“The interesting piece was all the suggestions people made me, and what I realized is all the stop smoking stuff is just gimmicks,” he said.

What got him through the hump of nicotine withdrawal was his frustration with the tobacco companies.

“It wasn’t a moral or ethical thing,” he said. “I’m just so, so pissed off at the cigarette companies.”

Turner grew up with a father who smoked, and snagged his first cigarette from his father when his dad wasn’t looking.

“I was 16 years old and it was a pack of my dad’s Alpines, which were menthol, and I thought they made me look like an adult,” he said. “My mother and grandmother could smell it because they weren’t smokers and I lied about it, like I lied about my orientation. I didn’t figure it was a big lie.”

As a young man reaching out into the gay community in the 1970s he found himself in bars — bars filled with men smoking.

“I don’t know if it was reinforcement, but it was another reason to smoke. You would go to a bar and you would get to smoke. As more and more bars became smoke free it was interesting how it would change where you would go,” Turner said. “I found myself as a smoker going to bars that didn’t allow smoking.”

He quit several times as he attempted to lay down his habit, but none of the previous efforts were successful until he finally reconciled his theology with his smoking.

Turner is the founding pastor at Gentle Spirit Christian Church and has been presiding over “The Church Without Walls” which meets Sundays in Candler Park. It was while looking at that last pack of Mavericks that he decided he had to get in line with his own teachings.

“One of the pieces of theology that I’ve been trying to teach the church is that no one owns you. What happens a lot of times at mainline churches is they give you a piece of theology and that if you follow that you’ll go to heaven. It’s bad theology,” Turner said.

“There’s not much I’m afraid of, but I am afraid of being controlled. It finally got in my head that they controlled me, and were going to kill me and probably not even show up at the funeral,” he said.

So after smoking that last cigarette some strange things happened.

“About the third week in about my sense of smell came back,” Turner said “Do you know how bad dog farts smell? Well I had never noticed them before.”

His partner, Bill Pabst, also quit. They’ve gotten the smell of smoke out of the house, cars and wardrobe.

“I can say I’m relatively certain I’m not going back,” Turner said.


Top photo: It took getting angry at tobacco companies for Pastor Paul Turner to finally quit smoking, hopefully for good. (File photo)