- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Quit Smoking... The Easier Way
Step 1 — Put out cigarette
Step 2 — Stop buying them
... Sounds too easy, well YES, it is.
It is getting easier these days to quit smoking. The picture on the right by Kirchner shows how the world once glamorised smoking. When I was young, I remember people smoking on planes, trains and buses! But now, with smoking and smokers shunned, it should be far easier to join the non-smoking masses who stare at the shivering, ostracised few who huddle in the cold.
It's about achievable goals
The way that worked for both my wife and myself is based on one simple principle: when you deprive yourself of something, you want it much more. We've all experienced someone saying 'you can't have that...’ and then feeling that you really, REALLY, want it. That's the biggest problem with giving up smoking as part of your New Year’s resolutions: we say to ourself 'that's it... no more cigarettes for me', and then you want one even more. The method I describe is simple, willpower is involved, but the internal battle of wills is gently calmed by reason.
Some hidden facts
- 49,000 - Estimated number of U.S. adults who died in 2005 of heart or lung disease associated with inhaling second-hand smoke, according to the Surgeon General (Time Magazine)
- 430 - Estimated number of babies who died in 2005 of a variety of sudden infant death syndrome caused by second-hand smoke (Time Magazine)
- Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine (American Cancer Society)
- 1 in 2 smokers will die from smoking — ‘Tobacco is the only consumer product that will kill half its users when used as intended.’ (Smokefree)
- Smokers loose, on average, 15 years of life (Smokefree)
- Tobacco is the single leading cause of preventable death. (Smokefree)
Begin the journey
Start by simply stretching the time between cigarettes. When you get the craving, say to yourself 'no problem, I can have one if I want, but just wait half an hour... it's not that long'. The more you do this, the less nicotine your body gets (over the course of a day), and the process of removing nicotine from the system begins. Just knowing you can have one often removes that initial craving!
"Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times"
During this early phase, make sure you have some cigarettes (and a lighter!) with you. You always need the 'I can have one if I want one' mindset to ward off the cravings. Over time you will be able to extend the intervals between cigarettes, and soon you'll find you don't want one quite as often. What you're doing is breaking a mental habit as much as physical one, and everyone's time to do this will be different (Time Magazine). I've never found a diet that promotes 'cold turkey' withdrawal of food because of the body's backlash when you finish – is smoking so different?
“There was a young lady named Mae Who smoked without stopping all day; As pack followed pack, Her lungs first turned black, And eventually rotted away.”
Understand your cravings
Recognising nicotine withdrawal symptoms can make them far easier to deal with. Be mindful that the feelings and symptoms of withdrawal are not you, they are chemical reactions. Recognise them for what they are. These can include:
- Dizziness (which may only last 1 to 2 days after quitting)
- Feelings of frustration, impatience, and anger
- Sleep disturbances — trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and bad dreams
- Trouble concentrating
- Restlessness or boredom
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Constipation and gas
- Cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip
- Chest tightness
- Slower heart rate
Don't loose heart
Yes, some may find this method doesn't suit them, either because they have a stressful job or they're surrounded by other smokers (the deal breaker), but I'm very much hoping that it helps some. I'm a lot happier not tied to a cigarette, and I'm a lot better off not paying for them.