Sometimes you know it’s going to be one of those days followed by more of the same. For me it all started when I thought I remembered where I had packed away the winter clothing. It turned out I did not and I was in a hurry to get to the Annual General Meeting of the James Bay Cree Communications Society in Mistissini.

My first warning of how things would be was the amount of snow I noticed on the ground during the stopover in Roberval. I began to regret not finding my winter gloves, scarves and especially woolen underwear (one must protect the future generations after all).

But Roberval wasn’t too bad… compared to Chibougamau. The wind quickly cut through the pants letting me know I had become a little too citified. In other words, it was brisk and cool.

Now don’t get me wrong: I enjoy winter. What I don’t enjoy is the unpleasant changes in weather. One part of the day you are in a no-snow zone and then, wham!

Winter in Mistissini has some unexpected bonuses for me, however. It is more healthy as I don’t smoke all that much. You see, my parents and brothers have all quit smoking. This makes my parents’ house a no-smoking zone.

That means that every time I want to have a cigarette, I have to put on my boots, sweater, jacket and gloves to go outside in the cold. This time it was unseasonably cold with a lot of wind. It meant I wasn’t going outside a lot to satisfy my addiction to nicotine.

That’s something I have noticed in the past whenever I’ve been home for a visit; that I smoke less. Smoking is more of a social action than we think. Going out in the cold for a solitary smoke is less inviting than sitting around with friends talking in the warmth.

Like many of you, I have been thinking of quitting smoking for the health and wealth benefits. If you smoke on average one package a day at a cost of $8 that comes out to $2,920 a year. Since cigarettes cost anywhere from $6.30 to $10 (in bars), that figure may fluctuate from $2299.50 to $3650. In any case, you’d have enough cash for a great many things besides smoking. Such as a nice vacation someplace warm in the winter, a second-hand all-terrain-vehicle for hunting, money for new furniture since the old stuff smells like cigarettes or new clothes for the same reason (though who needs a reason to shop at times). Just use your imagination and remember to save a little for the gym since you don’t want to bloat.

We all know smoking is not healthy for you but what happens when you quit?

It all starts 20 minutes after quitting when your heart rate drops.

At 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

Within two weeks to three months your heart-attack risk begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve. Ulcer risk drops.

From one to nine months after quitting see your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

In just a year your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

You will see your stroke risk reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s five to 15 years after quitting.

Ten years after quitting, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s. In addition, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases.

It takes 15 years to make your risk of coronary heart disease equal to that of a nonsmoker’s.

All in all, my New Year’s resolution may be to stop sending my money up in smoke… except for pipe ceremonies of course.