Zheng Geping Used To Smoke Up To "40 Cigarettes A Day", Now Feels "Disgusted" Whenever He Smells Cigarette Smoke
It took him four tries to quit his 20 year habit. How did he do it?
One look at local hunkle Zheng Geping and you know that he’s as fit as a fiddle. But did you know, that the 56-year-old was a “chain smoker for twenty-odd years? And at one point, he was even smoking up to “40 cigarettes a day”, especially when there were overnight shoots.
But now, he’s been smoke-free for 4,380 days, after successfully kicking the habit in 2009. So, how did he do it?
“I picked up smoking during NS. I was with the police force then, and when I started working, I started smoking more, said Geping. Cigarettes were a lot cheaper back then, they were only S$2.50 [a pack],” he said. [Ed: Cigarettes now retail for around S$13 a pack.}
“[I smoked] when I was bored, stressed, or happy, basically whenever I felt all sorts of emotions. When you're young, you think that you're fit, but as you grow older, when you smoke too much, you'll feel lethargic and breathless,” he added.
But as much as he smoked, Geping made sure that he never brought his habit home.
“I tried not to smoke at home. Ever since my wife [ Hong Huifang]’s first pregnancy [with their daughter, Tay Ying], I stopped smoking at home.” he said.
His first four attempts to kick the habit only lasted a few months. Attributing his failures to a lack of determination, he also laughed that having “bad friends”, aka smoker friends, definitely did not help too.
“When the nicotine retreats from your system, you’ll start to feel very uneasy. The habit of putting one stick between your lips [whenever you feel like it], having chills for no reason and constantly wanting to sneeze, [things like that],” Geping said, describing his nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
“You start to get hungry easily as well,” he adds, revealing that one of his prior attempts failed ‘cos he wanted to “smoke just one or two [sticks] to bring [his] weight down”.
“That's a very stupid way of thinking,” he deadpanned.
“For smokers, it's a habit. Some people think that smoking can help you think better, when you need an idea and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all these are just tricks of the mind. There's no scientific proof that smoking can help you think better lah, have a more creative mind lah (laughs),” he added.
Geping eventually succeeded in his quest to quit smoking ‘cos he started exercising regularly.
“I was already in my 40s, and I felt acute pain in my chest [when I breathed]. And as you grow older, you know your body condition is deteriorating, so I told myself it's time for me to quit lah ‘ cos if I don't quit, I'm going to die. But when I stopped smoking, there were also moments when I felt like I was going to die also [‘cos of the withdrawal] (laughs),” he said.
In the end, the one exercise that helped him kick his smoking habit was running. And boy, did it show very extreme results.
“ When I started running, I just didn’t want to have the smell of cigarette smoke around me. When I came across some old folks smoking on the street, I felt very disgusted [when I smelled the smoke]. Within two weeks of jogging and doing other cardio exercises, I stopped smoking completely,” he revealed.
Since then, he has not felt the urge to pick up a cigarette again. Even when he needs to play a character who smokes.
“In the last few years, there were two occasions where I had to smoke for a movie character [that I was playing]. I felt very dizzy, and very disgusted [after smoking].” he added.
Photos: Zheng Geping/Instagram