You know smoking is bad, you know that with every cigarette you inhale, you’re shortening their lifespan. If you don’t, you must be very good at ignoring the efforts of the anti-smoking advocates, what with all the gory images on smoking packs, and the ads strewn all over the media, as well as the tut-tutting from well-meaning relatives.
I’m sure you’ve tried to quit smoking before. Many of my friends have. Most of them have tried multiple times to quit. Some manage to steer clear of the smokes for months, some for years, some never made it past three days. But all of them agree that trying to quit smoking is perhaps one of the most ambitious and difficult tasks they’s set upon themselves. And I bet you’ll agree.
How Did the Ex-Smokers Do It?
How did the people who have said hasta la vista to the overpriced cigarette packs do it? What’s their secret? What helped them through the withdrawal symptoms and the cravings for just one smoke after dinner? The internet, of course, has the answer.
We searched all over the web for the experience of those who have been smoking for tens of years, but have still managed to stay away from cigarettes for years, and counting. Let’s take a look at the pieces of advice they have for us:
1. CarnalSanders: Tell your kids to call you a loser each time you smoke
“I used some sort of weird psychology against myself. Told my kids to call me a loser every time they saw me smoking. They were three and five at the time. Anytime I stepped onto the porch or after a meal or anything, sweet little voices would say, “Daddy, you’re a loser.”
Fast forward a few months and I’ve got camel coupons on the counter, there are five of them for $2 off a pack. My son just started learning to spell and write. I was off to grab a pack and I picked them up to tear off one of the coupons and the little shit had written one letter on each coupon L,O,S,E,R. I promised myself and my kids that I would quit before I used all the coupons. I slowly weaned myself off and kept the last coupon as a reminder. It’s still in my wallet in case I ever need a reminder. Was used quite a bit soon after I quit. Now, it’s mostly sentimental. I’m like 4-5 years smoke free.”
2. Ludwis: Ask yourself if it’s worth it
“Tip for those quitting: Count the days, then the weeks, and finally the months. When you feel the urge to smoke, ask yourself: Is that one cigarette worth throwing away all those days/weeks/months?
It never is.”
3. Ashton Kutcher: Read “The Book”
“I read the book (Allen Carr’s ‘Easy Way to Stop Smoking’). It gives you guidance, and allows you to smoke as you read – and on the final page it says ‘And now, quit’, and I closed the book, and I did! I still drink, however.”
4. Chia Leong: You need to want to quit
“After the last cigarette I smoked, I didn’t smoke another one. That’s how I quit.
I’m really not trying to be a smart-ass with this. I’ve just come to realise that quitting technically isn’t something you’re doing – it’s something you’re not doing. Nobody smokes ALL the time anyway, so if you’re a smoker and you’re not smoking right now, then you’ve already begun your journey to quitting.
But if you’re asking what helped me quit smoking, then for me, the biggest factor was actually wanting to quit. I think it’s perfectly possible to rationalise the pros and cons of smoking and decide for yourself if quitting is something you want to do. If to you, the pleasure you’re getting from cigarettes is worth sacrificing your health for, then you’re not going to quit. It’s as simple as that.”
5. slapchopsuey: find out what makes your willpower stronger
“Addiction and how it short-circuits willpower is a weird thing. I tried quitting for the ‘right’ reasons (health, family, etc), didn’t work for me either. What ultimately did it for me was keeping around a pack of really old and stale cigarettes, where whenever I had them, they literally made me gag one gag short of throwing up. I’m more skittish about throwing up than most people are, so apparently smoking in a way that caused me to gag to that extent “crossed the wires” in my brain and allowed me the opening to break the addiction.”
6. Ilovepanforte: cut out all cigarettes
“I “quit” several times while I was smoking, only to have a crisis and start back all over again. The thing that is so hard for a smoker to realize is that you can’t have one, you can’t have any. You can’t just smoke when you drink, you can’t smoke on weekends. It’s all or nothing and that’s that.”
7. Joan B.: Set up rule of when you can smoke
“I gave up smoking in 1968 after years of smoking two packs a day. I have never smoked since. The unique aspect of the method I used was that I could smoke as much as I wanted to, provided I followed simple rules. Here’s how it worked:
List the following hours on an index card:
AM:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
PM:1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Day 1: Cross out all the hours you’re usually asleep. These are the hours each day that you will not be permitted to smoke (this made me feel really good because it was effortless). You may smoke as much as you like during any hour not crossed out.
Day 2: Select one hour that you will not smoke. Cross it out (choose an hour where you usually do not smoke very much). Remember, you may smoke as much as you like during any hour not crossed out.
Day 3 and beyond (about 3 weeks): Repeat Day 2 until all hours are crossed out.
I followed these instructions until there were three hours left where I could smoke. By then I was so disgusted anticipating the remaining hours where I would chain smoke almost two cigarettes at a time that I gave it up altogether.
At the time I gave up smoking, I was a public high school commercial art teacher. So impressed was I with my results that I had students design a brochure, “How to Give up Smoking.” Then the print shop class published enough to distribute to the entire student body and faculty.
The method for daily control was inspired by my reading of “Learning to Live Without Cigarettes,” by William A. Fackler in the Journal of the Albert Einstein Medical Center, Volume 16, Number 2, Autumn, 1968.”
8. Mark Fulford: There’s no such thing as one cigarette
“I used to smoke 40 a day and tried giving up 3 times before I was finally successful.. That was 15 years ago and haven’t smoked one cigarette since then. Two bits of advice that served me well.
- For me there’s no such thing as one cigarette, by which I mean that, for me, one cigarette becomes two, becomes three…
- In the early days I avoided smokers and smoking situations. It’s hard enough to give up, you don’t need to make it harder by surrounding yourself with temptation.”
9. Cyndi Perlman Fink: I used nicotine gum
“I got a prescription for Nicorette gum. It had just come onto the the market in 1984 and wasn’t available without a script from the doctor.
I chewed 12 pieces on each of the first 2 days and cut back from there. It was so easy. By the end of the first month when I was down to two, I just stopped the gum and that was the pretty much the end of that.
After a year or so I really wanted a cigarette so I had one. It was awful. It didn’t taste at all the way I remembered it tasting. It was vile.
I think I had to try once more.
I’m so glad to be free.”
10. Gwyneth Paltrow: You need to really want to give up
“The trick is that you really need to want to give up otherwise you’ll soon be back on the ciggies. A good trick to maintain the effort is to change your routine to avoid as many of your usual lighting-up times as possible.”
11. Shufimafi: Rewire your brain
“You need to rewire your brain to change the way you think about smoking and smokers. I found it helpful to be critical of smokers every single time I saw one (internally not vocally) reminding myself of coughing, sore throats, phlegm, bad breath, standing outside in the cold and rain, the cost and any other bad associations I could think of. This had the twofold benefit of distracting my desire to join them and making me think about smoking negatively. Autosuggestion or self-hypnosis and is remarkably effective – if you repeat something often enough, you will ultimately come to believe it.”
Nobody really wants to keep smoking. It’s draining on the finances and makes you smell like an ashtray. What used to be cool has now been downgraded to something society frowns upon. We know you want to quit, and we know it’s hard, but you definitely have it in you. Good luck!