How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

How to Stop Smoking CigarettesIn writing this article I provide both good news and bad news to our readers.  The bad news is that i’ve been a smoker for the better part of 18 years which i’ll discuss in more detail later. The good news is that as of January 15th, I am once again a non-smoker and going through this experience has provided my personal insight to write this article and to discuss how to stop smoking cigarettes.

I started my awful habit when I was 17 years old.  What a bad time to start.  I can’t believe how much money I spent which could have translated into BIG TIME retirement savings at such a tender age.  Statistics show that about 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before they’re 18 years old.  I was 1 year away from potentially never becoming a smoker.  So why did I start? I’m not too sure but i’ll attribute it to a few different things.  First, a lot of my pals were smokers.  Like many teens I tried it out, then tried again and again.  I got a “buzz” from cigarettes.  Nicotine is responsible for physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing which in turn reinforce your continued use of tobacco.  Before I knew it I was unknowingly addicted.  Around this time the Ontario government, in an attempt to reduce tobacco related criminal activity (bootlegging) removed almost all of the sales tax rates on cigarettes – they went from $6-$7 per pack to $3 per pack.  An affordable buzz.  Other reasons I think I smoked was that like many teens I was very moody and smoking brought me up, at least temporarily.  Lastly, my Mom was a smoker.  Put all of these factors together and I became a smoker.  I always knew I should stop smoking cigarettes but always had one reason excuse or another to not do so.

Over the years i’ve made a number of attempts to stop smoking cigarettes.  I’ve never been a “heavy smoker” which is defined by the World Health Orgaization is a person who smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day. In the mid 2000′s I managed to quit for about 18 months but sadly started smoking again.  After meeting Mrs. SPF in 2005 i’ve made 3 attempts to quit.  One time was a no go, another I quit for a few weeks but situational triggers caused me to lapse and one other time I quit for over 6 months.  So what sorts of things cause me to start smoking after making the not-so-fun effort to stop smoking?  Some triggers that come to mind include:

  • Cottage weekends with the boys.  Of the eight guys who attend our cottage weekends 2 never smoked, 2 quit years ago, 2 of us off and on and 2 smoke.  The guys who quit are actually able to smoke only at the cottage (and sometimes weddings).  I try to tell myself I can do the same, but I can’t.  I know this now.
  • Stressful events.  Job interviews and when Mrs. SPF headed to northern Ontario to work for 10 months, leaving me to tend the house and our 4 pets come to mind.  Long distance driving on highway 401 too.
  • Situations where I have fond memories of smoking.  The cottage as mentioned, weddings, the music festival we help run each year, hanging out with certain friends who smoke and the odd occasion I go out to a pub.How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

Toward the end of last year I brought up making another attempt to stop smoking cigarettes with Mrs. SPF.  She was all for it as she dislikes my habit (but recognizes it is an addiction). I always seem to average 8-12 per day.  I decided I would select Mrs. SPF’s birthday in January as my “quit day” as picking a day that has some relevance is a good motivator to quit.  So what were my reasons to quit smoking now?

Reasons to stop smoking cigarettes

Health Reasons

Aside from the tobacco industry you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think smoking causes diseases and ailments that can cause cancer and other life threatening medical conditions.  This alone should be reason enough to stop smoking.  I was also tired of coughing and hacking up phlegm.  Sounds gross and it is gross.

Family Reasons

First off, I don’t smoke inside.  I used to years and years ago, but stopped after I got tired of my clothes reeking of stale smoke.  Once Mrs. SPF and I moved in together this continued – Mrs. SPF has never smoked and I wouldn’t expose her to 2nd hand smoke inside.  Even outside I did my darnedest to keep down wind of Mrs. SPF when i’d light up.  The thing is (was – it is hard to speak of this stuff as in the past) the smell i’d drag back into the house on my jacket, on my hands and even in my hair – the 3rd hand smoke bothered Mrs. SPF as well.  I would use hand sanitzer to hide the smell.  All that being said, I was dragging yucky stuff into the house and if we plan to have little ones down the road this had to stop.

Control Reasons

Being a slave to smoking sucks.  I’m still a slave even after 24 days being smoke free.  Tobacco is extremely addictive – i’ve heard analogies of it being as addictive as heroin.  Knowing, and experiencing, the urge to smoke after certain daily and life events … knowing I had a smoking routine I found extremely difficult to break bugs me.  Having a drug control me had to stop.

Financial Reasons

As mentioned, when I started smoking almost two decades ago the cost had been cut to $3.00 a pack, down from from $6.00.  Today a pack of 25 death sticks costs about $10.00.  Considering I would smoke 8-12 cigarettes daily I estimate I would smoke 3 packs a week.  At $30 a week I was spending $1,560 every year!  Now, smokes haven’t been $10 for 17 years (less they 2 or 3 I didn’t smoke) but I figure i’ve spent somewhere around $20,000 – $22,000, perhaps more, over this period.  This number shocks me, but what shocks me even more is that if i’d invested this money … whoa.  For argument sake, if i’d saved $1,200 annually when I was 17, by now i’d have $48,121.97 if the rate of return was 8%.  If I kept that money invested, and didn’t add anything to it, by my retirement age goal of 58 I would have $301,157.27.  These numbers are a kick in the gut. Kids: don’t smoke – retire early instead.

How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

My Tips on How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

  • Determine and write down your reasons for quitting.  Don’t just think about the reasons, write them down so you can review them as you prepare to quit.
  • Find a support person.  Preferably pick a non-smoker.  Mrs. SPF is my support person.  She has been with me when i’ve tried to quit before, so she knows what to expect (although she said I was much less moody this time!).  Your support person will listen to you complain and opine but will give you support and encouragement to keep it up!
  • Set a Quit Date.  Try to make it an important date you will remember.  I used Mrs. SPF’s birthday as a guideline and picked the following Monday.
  • Try to cut back gradually.  Some people swear by the cold turkey method but I found changing my habits such as smoking frequency and the routine of smoking (e.g. after a meal, first thing in the morning).
  • On your quit day make sure you have gotten rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters – everything that reminds you of smoking.
  • Try to stay away from triggers – whatever they may be.
  • Drink lots of water.  I’m not sure it is scientifically proven you will wash toxins from your body but drinking water will make you feel full and divert you from thinking about cigarettes.
  • Control weight gain by eating raw vegetables.  I prefer organic baby carrots.
  • Avoid booze and caffeine as consuming these types of drinks, at least for me where alcohol was involved, accompanied smoking.
  • When you have the urge to smoke take 3 deep breaths and try to wait 2 minutes, the urge will pass.
  • Try to exercise regularly and get more sleep.
  • Consider various smoking cessation products such as
    • the “patch”, nicotine gum, lozenges or an inhaler.  These never worked for me (though I never tried the inhaler).  I wanted to quit nicotine not remain reliant on it.  I also found these would give me a wallop of nicotine whereas I never smoked cigarettes as strong as these products are.
    • If you are not yet ready to kick the habit, but want to take it down a notch, try switching to a smokeless, tobacco-free alternative.
  • Consider various smoking cessation drugs.  Ask your doctor:
    • about a prescription medicine called bupropion. It’s an antidepressant that can make it easier to quit.  It used to be called Zyban but it has been discontinued but you can still get the generic brand.  This is what I use.  There are side effects so be informed.
    • about a prescription medicine called varenicline tartrate. It can take away some of your craving to smoke, and make smoking less enjoyable.  I’ve heard it to has side effects so be informed.
  • If you slip up, don’t give up. Try again, and again – keep trying until you’ve quit for good.  I’ve tried numerous times but I refuse to give up on my goal to quit smoking.

Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things i’ve ever attempted.  I’m not sure if there will be a bigger challenge in my life aside from being a great Dad someday.  However, I need to quit smoking now. Saving money will help. Have you ever quit smoking?  Do you have any additional tips or strategies on how to stop smoking cigarettes?

46 comments to How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes

  • I grew up in a household with smokers and I hated it… If you can stay smoke-free everything will be so much better; your air will be clean, your lungs will work better, and you won’t feel like a slave anymore. I sincerely wish you the best of luck in this!

    • Thanks IIW! As an outdoor smoker the air was pretty clear but I know all the reasons to stop. The one that I find REALLY helps initially is that within 2 weeks my tastebuds start to recover and food starts tasting much better. Great incentive to keep off the death stick IMO.

  • Congratulations on quitting! I grew up with two smokers and it definitely wasn’t very nice at times, especially before they started being more conscientious and not smoking in the car and the house.

    Unfortunately my dad still smokes and he is showing no signs of quitting. I keep hoping that he will and I always worry that time may be running out for him.

    Now you can go visit your blog every time you have the urge to smoke and be reminded why you are quitting and get the encouragement you need to push through. Do you have an internet connection at “the camp”? :)

    • Nope – no Interent @ out cottage SM. However, it is on an island (w/ 2 other cabins) with no phone, TV or computers and it is a 15 minute canoe ride to get back to the car then 20 min drive into town. I won’t be making that trip for smokes!

  • Congratulations! That is a really big accomplishment and you are now past the worst part (the initial first week or two where you feel semi-secotic with withdrawal symptoms). I was a smoker for five years (all of college, some of law school) and I smoked a pack a day. I got addicted fast. And I was addicted bad. Same thing, Mrs. BP was not a fan and I knew it was bad for me. It took me a few times to quit too but I haven’t had a cigarette in over three years now. I never thought I would get to this point but I don’t even think about them anymore. In fact, I kind of find the smell of 2nd hand smoke disgusting at this point. So, I think this is the final quit for you as well. Drop me a line if you ever need any support from someone who has been there.

    • Thanks for the encouragement BP. I’m not yet at the point where the smell disgusts me – the opposite actually. But I just try to breathe through my mouth when i’m near smoking. 20+ years of kitty litter training is paying off!

  • good luck on quitting the disgusting habit! :)

  • Congratulations on kicking the habit! I am confident that you will be able to kick the habit. I think that if you continually provide updates on your blog, it might help you keep accountability and continue to quit.

    Did you know that Obama recently quit too? (maybe less than a year ago)

    They say it takes a few times (I think the magic number MIGHT be 7) before the habit can be fully eliminated.

    My boyfriend was smoke free for many months, then I went away to Nepal at he started again :( He used Zyban too, it made him feel like crap (dry mouth etc.) but he believes that it works and plans on using it again when he is quitting (very soon- his goal is to be smoke free when he moves into our new digs!).

  • Oh… that smell of tobacco! LOL I was a heavy smoker (by heavy a mean one or 1.5 packs a day) for ten years. Tried to quit thousands of time and couldn’t. You are lucky you don’t live in Europe where everyone (almost) smokes. I quit 11 years ago when I moved to the US. No family, no friends, no money for cigarettes. Worked magic! Quit cold turkey and I will tell you this… you wouldn’t want to be around me during that time. ? That said… on a very seldom occasion I might have a cigarette and, in fact, still enjoy it. Alcohol is always a factor. :-) Good Luck to you! It is one of the toughest habits to break.

  • Ian

    I just recently quit (as of new years!) One of the biggest reasons for me was the financial aspect of it
    Nicorette and the electronic cigarette greatly helped as well.

  • jeff

    best of luck to you. Tobacco has always been around my life because of my friends, as well. I’m in college now and am making the smart decision to just stop tobacco use. It really comes down to using the hours a day in which you smoked and going to the gym or reading a book instead.

  • Good Luck with quitting the smoking.
    I quit in Jan of last yr and picked it up in the fall, rough times = smoking.
    Either way, I am also in the process of quitting.
    I decided to try Champix, which is like Zyban. We’ll see if it works, either way I am determined.

    Good Luck!!

  • I found the Easy Way To Quit Smoking book/audio tapes by Allen Carr really helpful. It’s like self-hypnosis.

    Also running. The feeling of having a tight chest when I run really motivated me to stop.

    • Thanks Roy – good tips. Exercise is one of the things i’ve read is really good to do. I also find that if you wait 2 minutes when you have a craving, it usually passes, and, going for a brisk walk – taking deep breaths of fresh air – helps as well.

  • I have stressed to patients over the years, they have to decide they are ready. Even then it is difficult for all the reasons you describe.

    Good luck, sounds like you have a lot of support here!

    • Absolutely Dr. Dean. A person MUST be motivated. Then and only then will they be able to employ some of the tips, tricks and strategies I wrote about.

      If you know of more tips, tricks and strategies i’d be happy to hear them and incorporate them into this post!

  • The Working Weasel

    I have, and was smoke free for one whole work week. I signed up for a local non-smoking website which provided tons of support, daily emails and tips, and sent me two boxes of Nicorette for free (sponsor paid). I never even opened up the Nicorette and I still have it, for next time! The biggest problem was my job. I clean houses for a living, and how it works is two cleaners are assigned to a regular team. My old partner at work did not smoke and was very, very positive and supportive of my effort to quit. Anytime after our lunch break when I didn’t smoke she would provide positive reinforcement and made me feel really good about it and she even gave me a whole carton full of candy cigarettes! I didn’t even have to ask her to, she just did it and it was the biggest influence. Then, just before my second week of non-smoking was about to begin they switched teams on me and suddenly I was being constantly partnered with HEAVY smokers. I just couldn’t do it. The hardest part for me I think is definitely the social aspect…I love smoking with people and talking and goofing off. My husband has smoked as long as we have been together and that’s another thing, he is the embodiment of smoking to me, and of course I love him, so I love smoking. I am ready to try again though. Very inspiring post!

    • Keep trying! For me I found smoking at work a bit embarrassing b/c I had quite before but never told any I had relapsed. So I spent a few years at the back of the building where the docking bay is smoking there. I stopped being a social smoker except around my pals at the cottage. I’ll likely have to avoid that trigger for a while. Best of luck!

  • electronic cigarette

    I’ve been smoking cigarettes when drinking for the past year. I will have from one cig to waking up and having no cigs left. I will occasionally smoke a cig when sober to relieve stress or to be social. Whats the best way to limit yourself from any cigarettes when you are drinking? Lately I’ve been trying to not smoke at all when drinking, but have been getting cravings. No haters please. Thank you in advance.

  • Great job on getting this article out there! It’s such an important habit to stop. Not only from a financial standpoint. It’s sad to see how addicted some people have become. My wife’s, friend’s mother (I know, it’s one of these stories!) may be getting amputative surgery soon on her feet because her smoking has caused some sort of disorder.

    I won’t even begin to pretend that I know what I’m talking about, I just know the facts. She smokes a lot, it has done something to her body in which she needs amputation, she won’t stop smoking, and it will eventually kill her. It’s so, so sad. I told my wife’s friend to maybe look into those electronic cigarettes. I don’t know how much better they are, but anything has to be better, right?

    Great job on providing a ton of information on this subject!

    Thanks,
    Timothy

  • I don’t know if these facts will make a difference in the people trying to quit smoking but they definitely made a difference on my decision. Here they are: 20 minutes after quitting smoking the blood pressure drops to normal and only 24 hours after, the chance of a heart attack decreases. 48 hours after quit smoking, the ability to smell and taste is enhanced. Hope these facts are useful for some of you… Andres Emilga

  • ella

    as a general knowledge, smoking doesn’t have any good effects to us, only harmful effects to our body. easy way to stop smoking is what we need to quit smoking.

  • Wow, you have a ton of tips to help people quit. Pretty awesome. I’m actually thinking about quitting as soon as I can get my husband on board. Thanks for all the info.

  • trishden

    I’m going to go back and read this after the holidays. What great tips, maybe I’ll do it with you!

  • Matt

    Smoking is definately expensive and pretty bad for you. I was one of those people who smoked because I liked the feeling of smoking. I wasn’t looking to quit but when I came accross Electronic Cigarettes I decided to give it a go. I ended up sticking with it and still use it to this date. I highly recommend trying one if you have trouble quitting cold turkey.

  • STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

    My son smokes and my mother in law died from smoking. Last week a friend of mine’s son who was 38 died from smoking. My son knows all this stuff and does not want to stop. What should a parent of a 30 year do here. Should I print our your post and give it to him. How do you get him motivated to quit?

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