The New Year is here. 2006 is history, 2007 is our future and we are sure it will be bright because we are the United States of America, one nation under God.

Last year could best be described as: “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” The Good was last November’s election that started a house cleaning in Washington. Oh yes, Saddam was sent to his rewards. The Bad, the mess in Iraq. The Ugly is exposure of all the deceit, immorality, hypocrisy and fraud within our government.

New Year starts when last year’s broken resolutions are replaced by new ones. The smog in the air is the annual burning of credit cards.

Still topping the list of resolutions are the old standbys, losing weight and to stop smoking. I consider myself an authority on both. Because after many false starts and failures, I learned that to lose weight, just eat half servings of everything that tastes good. That includes biscuits and gravy. A little exercise also helps.

To stop smoking is also simple and easy. Just stop. I started smoking over a half century ago when in Stigler High School.

If you didn’t have a sack of Bull Durham and could roll your own, you were not cool. Later I was sucked in by all those old ads, “I would walk a mile for a Camel,” and “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.” I got good at puffing the things, two packs a day and three on a bad day.

Being a slow learner, it took me several years to figure out those little bundles of joy were damaging my health. I went through that cycle of stops and failures. I tried chewing gum, patches, tapering off, the works. Then one night, after a fit of coughing, I said that is enough, rallied my will power, and that was it. Went cold turkey. No more smoke, that was more than 20 years ago.

I should have listened to an old song that was written back when tobacco companies gave away coupons with cigarettes.

The song went, “I’m saving up coupons to get one of those. My brother got the habit right off the reel. He started to save for an automobile. The day that he got it from smoking, he died. From his home to the graveyard was his only ride.”

A few years back I helped the American Heart Association do a study. Of the over 100 former smokers I interviewed who successfully quit smoking, 95 percent had gone cold turkey.

Sure, lips may get a little thick for a few days, but hang tough and save your money and health.

Have a good year and remember 2007 will be just as good as we will let it be.

Stoney Hardcastle is a novelist, humoris and retired writing instructor at Eastern Oklahoma State College.

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