I visited my chiropractor, Dr. Mike Christopher, in Williamsville last week and told him I was working on a story for today’s WNY Refresh section about people who had set New Year’s resolution-style goals earlier this year and stuck to them.
One of the folks featured in the story package is Wayne Kast, of Amherst, who quit smoking.
I also reported that about 10 others who took smoking cessation classes with Kast already had returned to their cigarettes.
"Dr. Mike," as everyone calls him, then talked about the power of putting a financial incentive behind one’s determination to break a bad habit.
I’ve read several health stories in recent months, and written one, about companies that provide such incentives to help their employees lose weight. Some will even take bonuses out of paychecks for employees who don’t.
Dr. Mike told me about a wager his dad – a three-pack-a-day Pall Mall smoker – made decades ago while working at Bethlehem Steel.
While we’re not advocating this, mind you, it did work.
His dad bet several co-workers at the steel mill $50 each that he could quit smoking for six months. If they caught him with a cigarette, he’d have to pay them $50.
This was roughly three decades ago, mind you, so that was a pretty hefty sum. Still is.
The co-workers, as you might imagine, watched Dr. Mike’s dad like a hawk, for months, particularly on his breaks.
Dr. Mike’s dad stayed smoke-free after making that wager, and got richer to the tune of about $650. A couple of folks didn’t pay up, but it would have been a lot harder for dad to go back on his side of the deal.
My dad was a high school English teacher, a highly educated man. He smoked a couple of packs of cigarettes every day – until he dropped dead of a heart attack at age 45.
I’ve missed him for 30 years, and wish he’d have made, and kept, a similar wager.
"When you make sacrifices to get healthier, that’s a real accomplishment," Dr. Mike told me.
You might even want to bet your life on that.
– Scott Scanlon