Thank you for not smoking

It was a few years ago when Janice Bond was standing near the street, minding her own business, and the car slowed to a stop.

The driver looked out the window at Bond and said two words she’s never forgotten.

“Thank you.”

“What for?” she asked

“For your booklet,” the man answered.

That booklet, “Smokers Talk: Stories of Smokers’ Struggles and Successes” published in 2002 helped the man, and then his daughter, stop smoking.

It might have saved his life, and it made what seemed impossible, possible.

“It was easy to quit, having read the stories,” the driver told bond.

That was 11 years ago. Since, that 36-page booklet is in its sixth printing and around 5,000 copies have been distributed for free — and Bond believes many are no longer addicted to cigarettes because of it.

“You know these booklets have impact,” she said.

A second Bond booklet, “In This Life, End ‘Ice:’” also offers stories of struggles and successes of those addicted to crystal methamphetamine. Around 2,000 copies of that booklet, in its second printing, have been distributed.

And like its counterpart on smoking, its changed lives, says Bond, commissioner of the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service and who also served six years on the state’s tobacco trust fund advisory board.

And it’s why she’s working on a third booklet “Suicide, Alcohol & other Drugs: Underlying Bullying.”

She’s seeking people who have battled through their own struggles and are willing to share stories “to support and encourage.”

“We all go through our phases,” Bond said.

They can pen their accounts anonymously, though Bond must meet them.

There is a need to provide a place for such people to offer what they’ve endured, and explain how they overcame, too.

“I’ve networked with people who have shared their stories with me,” she said.

And that benefits others trying to defeat their own devils.

“We all need to come together and share,” Bond said.

Her topics, she admits, are not easy to write about. Let’s see, there’s meth, smoking, suicide, alcohol, bullying. Not exactly stuff of good cheer. Yet, she perseveres.

“It helps me in terms of knowing it might help someone else. That’s why I do this,” she said.

The 2009 Kauai Female Volunteer of the Year speaks from experience.

Bond began smoking in college, and fought for 20 years to stop. She told her tale in “Smokers Talk” of her addiction that was such she even smoked during her second pregnancy.

She can’t erase that imagine of her “scrounging through the trash cans or the  car ashtray looking for a butt when I was trying to quit and didn’t have any.”

She quit — and started again — three times.

Eventually, she knew it was toss the smokes, or likely die from smoking.

She quit.

She won.

“I had to make myself accountable,” she said.

She’s smoke free today — more than 10 years.

“I asked God to take control of my life and to take the desire for cigarettes completely and forever,” Bond wrote.

Bond, born and raised in Kauai, has seen the problems that cigarettes, alcohol and drugs have caused on this island.

It’s why she’s taken this project to heart, even to the point she’s funding this booklet — as she did with “End Ice” — out of her own pocket.

Her latest booklet is a result, she said, of people reaching out to her and asking for something on suicide, alcohol and drugs.

“Underlying a lot of this is bullying in school,” she said.

She hopes many step forward to share their stories, but getting folks to talk about their inner demons isn’t easy.

“A lot of people are afraid to submit their stories, because they’re afraid they’ll relapse,” she said. “But that’s OK. I know how many times I tried to quit smoking.”

She would like to have the booklet printed by year’s end, and ready for distribution soon after.

Those interested in speaking with Bond about writing a story can email or call her. Bond can be reached at (808) 639-9201 or janbond@hawaiilink.net

If they’re brave enough to step forward, it will change lives. Of that, Bond is certain.

“It makes a difference,” she said.

Oh, and Janice Bond sends out this message, too: Thank you for not smoking.

• Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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