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My quitting smoking timeline

Updated on September 6, 2013

Why should I stop smoking?

When it finally dawned that I was going to have to stop smoking, I wandered around for days like a petuant child muttering "But why do I have to stop smoking?" Now, I know what you're thinking. "Serious question?" "Isn't it obvious why you should stop smoking?"

Well, you're right. Of course it's obvious. However, unless you've actually been a smoker you can't understand the depth of the attachment smokers have for their cigarettes. The thought of them not being there is, well, unthinkable. I smoked for 35 years and I could not imagine doing anything without a cigarette. Every holiday, every lunch break, every cup of coffee existed with a cigarette. I didn't want to live life without them. I found I couldn't look forward to a holiday if there weren't going to be any cigarettes. I was, in short, utterly hooked, a hopeless case, a lifer. No way was I giving up my smokes.

Until, one day a few months after losing my job, the reality sank in. We were broke. Feedng the kids was going to become an issue. As the realisation dawned, I did what I always did in a crisis: I stepped outside and lit a cigarette.Sitting on the step, smoking my cigarette, the absurdity of the situation began to dawn. Here I was, facing deep financial shit, smoking a cigarette from a pack that cost more than eight pounds. Yes, that's eight UK pounds, about 12 dollars. Now, I have no idea what a pack of 20 cigarettes costs in the USA but I bet it's not $12. Probably be a lot fewer smokers if it was.

Now, my kids had been on at me for years to stop smoking (they're 9 and 6 and see smoking as an utterly bizarre adult quirk), ever since they'd been told at school that smoking kills people. I suppose it's quite flattering that my kids didn't want me to die. My wife is one of those smokers who has a cigarette with a drink and really isn't bothered otherwise; she said she would stop if I did. so, I made the decision. I set a date to quit.

Source

I am not a quitter

So, we decided that we'd give up after the forthcoming weekend. Frankly, the thought of not smoking at the weekend was unbearable. Well, there were a few left on the Monday morning and I wasn't about to throw them away, so I smoked into the Monday.

But, then, I did it. I stubbed out my last cigarette on Monday 3rd June 2013. According to the app I installed on my phone, I have now gone 94 days, 4 hours and 10 minutes without a cigarette. So, in fact, turns out I am a quitter. Do I feel better? No. Do I feel healthier? No. Do I feel like a cigarette? Hell, yes.

OK, so I'm not a great advert for quitting. I still want to smoke even now. But I now realise I did it the wrong way, using nicotine replacement patches. There is a much easier way, as we'll discover.

Poll for smokers

I want to give up smoking

See results

When is the right time?

So, once a smoker has bowed to the inevitable (those of us that are lucky enough to live that long, anyway) and realised it's time to quit, there comes the thorny question of when. The smoker will do her best to put this as far away as possible: "I'll quit on my 40th birthday" "But you're only 32"; "I'll quit on payday" "You haven't got a job"; "I'll quit on Monday" "OK, good, that's better"

There are many schools of thought here. The obvious one is "No time like the present". I understand that. Why wait once you've made up your mind? Well, the facts show that smokers who try to quit on the spur of the moment fail more often. The truth is, most success comes from setting a date, ideally in the next week, and sticking to it. You may feel, like I did, that you can't face the weekend without your smokes. Fair enough, but this must be the last weekend. You have to convince yourself of this and stick to it. That's one thing i did do right. I set my date for the coming Monday and I smoked my last cigarette on that day. Now, another thing people say to me is "I'm too old to give up. The damage is done." Well, I'm 52 and as I'll show you shortly there is still a great chance you'll completely recover.

The Only Way to Give up Smoking

The Only Way to Give up Smoking

I had read Allen Carr's book before, enticed by its promise to make giving up smoking easy, but it hadn't worked for me. The thing is, it's only now that I have given up and I'm going through a difficult patch that I understand how this book works. I'm in the process of reading it again, even though you're supposed to carry on smoking while you read it (yes, you read that right, you have to carry on smoking while you read it). It makes so much sense now that I wish I'd followed the instructions before using patches to give up. The thing with Easy Way is that it teaches you not to crave a cigarette. The idea is, if you follow the method (as people like Richard Branson and Anthony Hopkins have before you) you will become a non-smoker and never want to take another puff. What do you have to lose?

Quitting Smoking Timeline

I've spoken before about the app I installed on my phone (don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you it, it's free). Well, it tells me I've now stopped for 95 days, 6 hours and 14 minutes. Also, I've not smoked 1905 cigarettes and saved 800 british pounds. Which is nice.

It also lists the health benefits:

20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse normal

24 hours, CO leaves the bloodstream. Risk of heart attack reduces

48 hours, nicotine eliminated from body (unless you're using NRT)

72 hours, lungs start to clear out the mess

1 month, coughing decreases, risk of infection decreases

And so on over time. So, as you see, it doesn't matter how old you are or how long you've been smoking. Your health will still improve. And, after 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is the same as if you'd never smoked!

You can get the Stop Smoking app in the Google Play store, by the way.

Care for a glass of bleach?

One last thing

One thing that isn't mentioned in the books is the effect giving up smoking can have on erectile disfunction. Oh, yes, very often that was the problem all along! Try it and see!

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