Very glad to hear your stories of quitting. You did the right thing. And congrats on the OP's anniversary. Cheers!
I have never smoked, myself, but my dad died last year of COPD (he virtually had no lungs left), and I was with him most of the way through the ugly end, so the issue has touched me. Both my mother and father have basically chain smoked their whole lives. No one could get them to quit, not even in the last decade or so with all the medical aids to quitting.
I have loads of great memories of my dad over the years, but unfortunately one that predominates now, but I hope will fade with time, is of my dad hunched over sitting in a chair in his underwear, already pretty far gone but not in the hospital, smoking. Then suddenly a severe coughing fit overtook him, and it sounded like he could hardly breathe and was coughing up lungs. Slowly, the fit gets under control, and he stops coughing. As soon as the coughing is over he pulls the lit cigarette that he has somehow managed to hold on to through the fit, back up to his lips to take another puff. Watching, and knowing from long experience there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Leaving aside the immediate health benefits of quitting, and all the backpacking trips you may miss if you don't - NOT the way I would choose to go out long term - I think I honestly would rather be eaten by wild animals than to die like my dad did. I know most people think of cancer, but slow suffocation is not the way to go either. When it finally got too bad, with them putting him on and off a respirator every few days, he chose immediate DNR as his best alternative, and he died a few days later. I'm very sure he wasn't really ready to go either.
I bring all of this up not to bum people out, but to reassure anyone on the fence that quitting is the right choice - take up some other addiction instead. ANY other addiction!
When I was in town with may dad, as he was dying, I was in line paying for gas, and a young girl - she must have been 15 or 16 (or at least looked it) was buying cigarettes. I remember wanting to yell at her like a Cassandra, but of course I didn't. A month back I took my mom and her husband touring around southern Utah, and she was coughing, just about exactly the way my dad did 10 years ago - and that is about how much younger she is that my dad. All through the trip she needed to take "bathroom breaks" about every 40 minutes, that always included stopping for a cigarette since she knew I wouldn't let her smoke in the car.
Guess it might be an occupational hazard of my generation - watching their parent die this way. Arggh!