- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Quit Smoking - Free tips that work
If you smoke, you know quitting smoking is hard to do. If you start again, it's even worse!
I started smoking when I was 16 years old. It was legal back then, but now the legal age is 18. My life had turned upside down and stress was overwhelming. Living in a children's home, many of the girls smoked in my dorm. I choked, coughed, gagged and even vomited from the smell as it permeated the air.
42 girls and 2 of us didn't smoke, one being myself. Sometimes 40 girls would smoke at one time. It was a chain reaction and I was at their mercy. I had several asthma attacks even though I never had one before. Time after time I ended up at the hospital for a breathing treatment. One doctor, whom I have trouble forgiving said, "If you smoked it probably wouldn't bother you so bad."
His words set off a chain reaction of my own. I left the hospital and when we stopped at a gas station I bought my first pack of cigarettes. I smoked my first one on the way back to the home. I gagged and coughed and worried I'd have another asthma attack, but the dear doctor told me..... (don't get me wrong, I don't think this doctor intended for me to go back and smoke, but his words led me in there. He should have been more careful.
I managed the first cigarette and chased it down with a soda to get the taste out of my mouth. I figured I'd quit when I got out of the home which I thought would only be a couple of months. Couldn't be that hard right? Wrong!
I got out. It's time to Stop Smoking! But how?
As predicted, I got out in just over 2 months from the first cigarette. I bought pack after pack without even considering quitting. I think I felt pretty cool among my friends. Here I am, 17 now big bad and I can smoke. Just watch me! Sometimes the old movies with the elegant women smoking would run through my mind. Strange justification, I know.
I even stopped for a year when we had our first baby. I thought I'd never start again. When I turned 21 there was a big party for the Indy 500. I grabbed some wine coolers and off to the party I went. Before the morning came, I'd bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked over half a pack. How easy it is to pick up right where we left off.
The next day, I had about 8 cigarettes left and decided to go ahead and smoke them to get the desire out of my system. Another big mistake! Can you guess what I did as soon as I ran out? You guessed it. I bought another pack.
I became a "closet smoker." I hid it from everyone and I became good at it. (No, I'm not going to tell you how to hide it.) I will tell you the people around me everyday, all non-smokers, had no idea. After they found out they turned to one another in disbelief. They found out because I got caught red-handed. Imagine it, legal to smoke and afraid of being caught.
I smoked for the next 13 years. I developed some nasty nodules in my lungs and got pneumonia a couple times a year. One day, I decided I didn't want to smoke anymore, but it wasn't that easy.
I created a plan to quit smoking.
I'd tried putting them down before. Just walk away and don't look back. By this time, I lived with other smokers. The challenge was far worse than previous attempts to quit.
Knowing I couldn't just lay them down any longer, I created a plan for how to quit smoking again. I'm sharing it with you because if I can help one person quit with my method, I will have succeeded in what seems impossible.
My plan to quit smoking. Willpower and Support!
- I bought all the cigarettes I normally smoked in a pay period. 2 weeks = 2 cartons.
- I told myself it would be the last time I ever bought cigarettes.
- I could take an entire year smoking these two cartons - when they were gone that's it!
- I could not borrow a cigarette from anyone else or take one if offered.
- Cigarette butts were fine so long as they were my own.
- I had to keep every single butt in a can. Gross!
- Each time I wanted a cigarette I went out and smelled the can first.
- I had to look at the can every single day when I woke up and before going to bed.
- I began only smoking outdoors. No smoking in the car, house or even someone else's home.
- I removed every ashtray from the house and asked the people in the house to go outside to smoke. Most of the time they complied, but at times they didn't.
- I washed everything in the house. Curtains, clothing, blankets, etc. and sprayed air freshener on the furniture.
- I totaled the amount of money I spent each pay period on cigarettes, $52.
- I went shopping for things I wanted of equal value. The idea here is to spend the money guilt-free because normally you'd buy cigarettes which does cause guilt. If you live on a budget like I did, you now won't have enough money to buy cigarettes too.
- I bought sugar-free suckers to curb my desire for a cigarette and when the sucker was gone, I'd chew on the stick for as long as I wanted.
- Create a person you call that will be proud of you for quitting smoking, someone you will feel guilty for lying to. Promote yourself and your achievements to this person and give them permission to call you and ask about your success. First start with once a day, then once a week and after the first month, every two weeks, then once a month. You'll be surprised how they will weigh in your mind when you're thinking of cheating. (Thanks Dad!) Set a reminder to call this person on a schedule and make yourself accountable to them. Tell them you need their undying support and they need to make you feel like a million bucks each time you mention not smoking. Trust me, most people are willing to give you major kudos!
After the last cigarette, which was 21 days, I was desperate for another so I went out and smoked a couple of the butts in the can. GAG! That's desperation I tell ya. After 2 failed attempts at smoking the old, stale butts I poured water in the can. I left it on the porch as a stiff reminder. Have you ever smelled wet cigarette butts and ashes? GROSS!
How much money do you spend a month smoking?
Benefits from quitting smoking and what I remembered when I thought of smoking again.
I reminded myself how nice the house smelled and my clothing too. I started tasting food differently almost immediately. I could smell things I never smelled before. Darned cat box apparently needed changing more than I thought. Flowers across a field would waft their beautiful smell and I had never noticed before.
Salt and other spices - How in the world did my children ever eat the food I'd prepared before? My new-found taste buds were repulsed at the amount of seasonings in the foods after I quit smoking. I remember tasting cheese after I quit and it was amazing! The robust flavor of sharp cheddar was a delight I hadn't even realized I missed while smoking.
I began breathing better in about 7 days and it continued to improve daily. My children were ecstatic and were no longer hesitant to hug me or make gross noises when they did.
My Mantra After I Quit Smoking
I would dream about stealing cigarettes or burying them in the back yard to hide them from people. I would wake up thinking I smoked an entire pack and felt terrible about myself. The pride was quick to return once I discovered it was a dream.
When I craved a cigarette, which did decrease each day, I would tell myself a couple of things. I called them my mantra.
- You made it through yesterday, you can make it through today.
- The only difference in me and a non-smoker is one cigarette, so smoking even one would make me a smoker again. (I read that somewhere online during my quitting phase. Whoever you are, thank you!) It really helped me when I thought I could have one cigarette and settle a temporary craving. We all know that's not true!
An interesting fact was presented after I quit, you may be interested in. I didn't know the day I quit smoking, but afterward my cousin told me she quit by the farmer's almanac and had remained a non-smoker for over 50 years. Little did I know, I had quit on the day recommended by the farmer's almanac too. You might try to make that a part of your plan.
I stayed a non-smoker for 5 years and 8 months! It was a joyous time. I gained about 5 pounds in the beginning of my choice to quit, but with the energy I gained and the spare time I had, I quickly lost the weight as I cleaned house more and began an exercise routine. I felt amazing and full of energy. I got to the point, I didn't even notice people smoking around me after a couple of months - other than the nasty smell. I even held someone's cigarette and it didn't phase me.
Don't Let Anything Cause You to Start Smoking Again
Don't lose faith in what I told you about how to quit smoking. I feel in the truth of disclosure it's important to tell you, I started smoking again in May 2010. I found out I had a few tumors and the doctors thought I had terminal cancer. The night before they removed the big tumor, I was so nervous and I decided it didn't matter if I started smoking. I mean, I was going to die anyway, right?!
I had made it through funerals, bad family situations, a car wreck and never started smoking. I had been so proud of myself. But this fateful day in May, I broke!
I told myself if I were to live, I could always quit again. A part of the reason I wrote this hub is to remind myself that it wasn't that bad to quit the first time and I can do it again. Now, I have to move to that mentality and get started. As you can see, I lived! It was benign and I ruined my 5 year bit of not smoking for nothing! Absolutely nothing!
Maybe your words of encouragement will swing me in the direction faster. I know it can be done! I know it's not that hard. I know it's better for me. I know!