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How I quit smoking

It's been a little over a year now since I've given up the habit. Some friends still smoke and often I’m questioned about how I did it, especially by those who couldn't imagine me without a cigarette in my hand. It all boils down to a few simple mindsets and decisions.

Quit for the right reasons

The first thing is you have to have the right reasons for quitting. You can't just do it after X amount of years because those health warnings finally affected you. "Smoking kills" and other one-liners they print on the boxes these days are to prevent new kids from picking up the habit, not helping you quit. You need a real motivation coming from something solid if you want to be able to see it through. For me it was my girlfriend- she doesn't smoke, and it's a real treat for her kissing an ashtray if you know what I mean. It's actually deeper than that, but you get the point.

Get all the support you can

The best would be if you could get someone who's always having a cigarette with you to also quit with you. This is not always possible, but you can get everyone's support by letting everybody know that you quit smoking. Most likely many of the people around you, family and friends, will try to help you get through and will be more understanding when you start getting a bit irritated. More importantly, everyone will be keeping you accountable now.

Be realistic

You have to be realistic about the goal you are setting. Make it something you can achieve. If you say you will never smoke again then you are continuously in the process and only accomplish that goal when you die; albeit older and not due to lung cancer. Instead you could put your goal at something like 1 year. At the end of that year, you can re-new your goal while you celebrate an accomplishment.

Don't become an ass

I enjoy the smell of burning tobacco. I'm not going to try and fool myself into disliking it. I also made it a point not to become an asshole to my friends who kept smoking. It's their decision and they'll have to come up with their own time and reason when they want to quit. You remember how annoying it always was when someone starting coughing just to try to make a point about your smoking? You remember all those times you held up a group somewhere while you finished your cigarette? You now have the advantage over never-smokers by understanding and being patient for that extra minute while the smoker has his or her last two drags.

Take advantage of the environment

Where I live, you can't smoke in bars, clubs, restaurants or pretty much any public indoor area. This only makes it easier for the non-smoker because you won't be hindered by any of these regulations. Now you can casually avoid all the circumstances where you'd usually light one up so you won't constantly be tempted. This and steeply rising prices of cigarettes will only help you in your quest to kick the habit.

This sums up the main points of how I stopped smoking. If you are trying to quit or have quit, please share your means and methods that helped you in the comments below.

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Comment by Marion Jude

Posted on 1 March, 2010
1 year already? Way to go dude!

Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 2 March, 2010
There are some things I would like to point out too. I didn't mention any nicotine gum or patches or other "substitutes" because I don't think they're as useful as the companies that sell them claim they are. You don't want to swap one addiction for another.

Comment by farangnl

Posted on 3 March, 2010
That was neat! Here's how I quit years ago (yes, I used to smoke... a packet per day). I didn't stop overnight, though the decision to quit was a New Year's resolution. I first started counting the cigarettes I actually smoked. Then, I would smoke one less every few days for 6 months. I was officially off of cigarettes on July 1st. Also, because I knew exactly how much I smoked, I put the money aside that I did NOT spend on cigarettes. I did that for at least a year or so. I got some nice pieces of furniture because of the money saved. :) Another thing I did, was chewing (normal) gum instead. So my mouth had something to do. Now I still have to get off of THAT addiction. :) I actually found quitting smoking much easier than dieting. Here's why. In order to quit smoking, you can completely ban it out of your life. You don't buy any more cigarettes, you just do not smoke again, at all. But, when you need to diet -to lose weight for instance-, you have to decide with every meal how much you will eat, and with every snack whether you will eat it or not. The temptation comes again and again and again. Really, if you think of it that way, quitting smoking is easy ;) I'm proud of you Ralph, for stopping smoking! Hope you renew your yearly goal over and over again.

Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 6 March, 2010
Thanks mom!

Comment by Kendall Meade

Posted on 11 March, 2010
I know the nicotine patches and gum have a bad reputation, but they really do help, in two distinct ways. First, they show you that you can go without a cigarette in your hand and you won't die and you won't go nuts. Second, after you adjust (and there is an adjustment that happens as you go from instant-fix from smoking to gradual-fix from using a patch or gum), your lungs will begin healing and you will realize how much healthier you are getting. That, for me, was what helped me crystallize in my mind that I really wanted to quit: when I went from having a pretty bad smoker's cough to having no cough, it was very motivating. There are a lot of aspects to addiction and a there are usually emotional or even physical reasons that people smoke, and a lot of chemical and physical ways that the addiction to nicotine affects people: ultimately, if you want to quit you should do a bit of research about what's going to happen. Don't join groups, because the odd thing is they'll convince you that what you're doing is really harder than it is. One last piece of advice. If you've completely quit nicotine and are getting bad cravings, then eating helps, especially things such as chocolate and durian (if you can stand it). Good job quitting Ralph, and good article.

Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 11 March, 2010
Thanks! Just laughed when you said "eating helps"... I've gained easily 10 kilos or so! I'm sorry I failed to mention it in the article- would be interesting to research some of this: the dangers of quitting. Just for the sake of controversy.

Comment by Kendall Meade

Posted on 30 March, 2010
There is a surprising amount of data on the 'dangers of quitting'- there is a direct inverse correlation to smokers having alzheimers and parkinsons (if you smoke, you are less likely to have alzheimers or parkinsons), as well as interesting notes on the consumption of nicotine affecting the way people think in positive ways. Ultimately, though, smoking is bad for you- the carbon monoxide you inhale kills brain cells, the ash and tar coat the inside of your lungs and the pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals used in the production of cigarettes have very severe negative consequences. In addition to this, nicotine- itself- is never truly consumed when you smoke, since nicotine is highly combustible and is actually a more powerful explosive than TNT, gram-for-gram. What you actually feel- and what your body actually processes- is a chemical called "Cotinine" that nicotine breaks down into. Interestingly, if you were to take pure nicotine as a drug, it would not have the mildly sedative effects of cotinine, but would be a potent stimulant, comparable to methamphetamine or cocaine. Fun stuff!

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