Giving Up Smoking Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Giving Up Smoking

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A red devil sitting in an ashtray

There are many difficult things in this life. Climbing Mount Everest freehand, blindfolded with no supplementary oxygen assistance is one of them. Reaching full Buddhahood after only two yoga lessons is another. But for many poor souls, there's nothing quite so hard, quite so demanding or quite so painful as the act of giving up smoking. It is for this reason then that we appealed to the wisdom of the h2g2 community asking for guidance and advice on just how to break this unhealthy habit.

We were touched by the response, and we're proud to present this entry, containing as it does, personal anecdotes written from the heart, some wonderful shared insights, and possibly the answer you've been looking for in your own particular struggle to clean up your lungs.

'Tell us how you do it!', we implored. 'This is how you do it', you replied.

You Have to Want to Quit

You have to want to quit. It sounds obvious, but without the initial desire to actually stop, how the hell are you going to quit the smoking habit? Indeed, why bother, if you really don't want to stop? It's worth asking yourself the question, 'Do I really want to stop smoking?' And that's exactly what the following researcher did:

I recently quit myself, and what worked for me was really wanting to quit. You have to be sure you want to quit. Find a way to motivate yourself, and do everything you can to keep them away from you - and you from them. I got tired of that nasty, chemical taste - after all, if they really tasted as good as dedicated smokers say, there would be cigarette flavored ice cream, chewing gum, and coffee creamer. I had three left in a pack on a Wednesday morning, and I held off all day, until shortly before I went to sleep. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night, I smoked one cigarette at bedtime, as many people they had difficulty sleeping when they quit. It was a sort of cool turkey approach, but it worked for me.

But let me say that as a general rule I have no will power whatsoever, so to enforce wanting to quit, I stayed out of the bars and away from the smoking areas at work. I let everyone at work I used to smoke with know I was quitting, so they wouldn't offer me cigarettes, and I kept myself away from buying them.

My quitting has gone well, although in a sudden stressful situation - such as watching a car hop a curb and nearly hitting myself and several friends while it was air-borne - I did bum one from someone to stop my hands from shaking. However, I stubbed it out when it was only about halfway done, and I haven't had the urge since.

So, when you decide you want to quit, as the Nike commercial says, just do it - but make sure you have a strong desire to do it first.

Two Ways to Quit Your Bugbear

Here's a bit of sage advice taken straight from the bosom of a family:

I know four people who have successfully given up smoking - my mum, my dad, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law, Andrew. I don't know how Andrew quit, but here are the other two ways.

  1. Land yourself in hospital. My father-in-law went into hospital with a bad back condition. Although the hospital was a 'No Smoking' zone, he was in an 'out-of-the-way' ward and could do pretty much as he pleased. However, he found that he couldn't smoke lying down, so he quit while he was in hospital and didn't start again when he left. My father went into hospital with pneumonia and they wouldn't let him smoke. Two weeks later he left, desperate for a cigarette. He reckons that when he lit up and took his first drag, it was worse than when he started smoking in his teens. He didn't smoke again for the rest of his life.
  2. I do not recommend method one unless you are absolutely desperate.

  3. Take it a day at a time. When my mum quit, over 20 years ago, there weren't any nicotine patches, or chewing gum, so she had to do it on will power alone. She changed the way she used her spare time so that there weren't so many occasions when she wanted to smoke (being a cook she couldn't smoke at work). Whenever she felt like smoking she would say to herself, 'I will not smoke today'. She reckons it was months before she was fully over the addiction, but is a lot fitter and healthier for having given up.

One 'advantage' of method two is that you are only giving up 'for one day'. For some people the thought of never smoking again is the killer.

By the way, my father died of a stroke. Smoking rates as the number three contributory factor towards fatal strokes, behind minor strokes (TIAs) and high blood pressure. Although my father had given up smoking about five years before he died, it takes at least ten years for the effects of being a smoker to clear your system (or so I've read).

Go To a Different Pub and Other Suggestions

Again the following advice is culled direct from one Researcher's unique family experience:

My father smoked 40 a day, mostly full-strength Players or Capstan, a pipe whenever he was out walking and cigars if he was drinking spirits. Some time in the late 1970s the government upped the tax to prohibitive levels. 'I'm not paying the bloody government five quid a day', he said. So he stopped cold, and apparently managed well without any tobacco until he died, aged 94. My mother also smoked 30 filter tip cigarettes a day, gave up at the same time and never got rid of the craving. Pride kept her off the fags1 until she too died in her late 80s.

If you're changing jobs/houses/countries it's easier to give up at the same time, as nobody at the new place knows you as a smoker. So perhaps persuade your mates to go to a different pub. Have something to fiddle with in your hands while you're drinking so that you don't automatically light up. Put the money you're not spending in a large glass jar. Spend it on something you want more than diseased lungs or send it to Amnesty International.

Take up exercise before you give up smoking. You'll feel so much better after you quit that maybe you will suffer less from the 'munchies'. In any case, if the worst comes to the worst, death from weight-related diseases is generally faster and less painful than death from lung cancer. Good luck.

The references made here to 'eating' and Amnesty International lead us nicely on to the following two sections, 'Smoking and Eating and Other Benefits' and the rather odd 'Green Issues'...

Smoking and Eating and Other Benefits

The displacement activity most commonly associated with the act of giving up smoking - apart from starting again - is eating. In these weight-obsessed times, people are scared of getting fat, and so too smokers if they stop their habit. It is even known for people to take up smoking in the first place in order that they can stay thin. And when we do stop, we often 'fill that gap' with a bit of extra food. Well, there's nothing wrong with enjoying your food, and lots of food combined with a bit of exercise is probably much better for you than lots of cigarettes. Anyway, who really cares if you put on a few extra pounds in the process of giving up? Let's see what the following Researcher has to say on the subject:

OK, how many of you are smoking now as you are reading this? I thought so. You see, its just too easy to pick up a cigarette and start puffing away. When you give up, the problem lies with the lack of activity that you are suffering and the alternative is to munch on some foodstuffs instead. The following I have found do work on a temporary basis, but it has the unfortunate side effect of turning you into a big fat person.

  • Mints - The classic breath freshener and low calorie alternative. However, certain mints should be avoided as they do have laxative effects. Smoking on the toilet is another topic altogether though.
  • Pringles - Enough said already, I think, about this demon potato snack.
  • Pies and Pasties - This also includes sandwiches and other assorted snacks. It's just far too easy to whack one in the microwave and stuff it down your throat.
  • Biscuits - Normally chocolate digestives are the bane of the smoker as we all know that there is nothing better with a smoke than a cup of tea. If you're not smoking then biscuits offer a good way of keeping you occupied.

So you have it two options. Smoke and be thin or don't smoke and be fat. You should quit only if you want to. Don't get pressured by it all as it's all down to personal choice. Just make sure that if you do quit try to take up knitting as otherwise you will just end up as a big round thing.

Green Issues

If we think about this very beautiful earth of ours and yet consider how weary it is with all its forests disappearing, its ozone layer vanishing, and millions of factories spewing out pollution spoiling its air, we might well be moved enough to take action. But first of all, we'd probably be best off having a little look at our own personal 'pollution' before we take on the bigger picture. It is often argued that once we learn to look after own health a bit, we can then begin to take much more of a effective interest in the general health of the world at large. Anyway, this researcher had the following rather strange take on smoking and the 'environment'.

No, that isn't a mistake. It was because of my concern about the environment that I decided to become a non-smoker. But I wouldn't recommend this method to anyone. Because of my above concerns, I decided to listen to government advice and bicycle to work. This I did for two years feeling very superior to car drivers. That is until I woke up in hospital with a broken leg. Evidently I'd had an argument with a car and the car won. So for ten days in hospital I couldn't smoke or move for that matter. When I got out I thought, 'The worst is over now why start again?' So with the help of that and nicotine chewing gum I didn't. Like I said... there has to be easier ways.

Wait Five Minutes... and Hold Your Breath

Here's a couple more pieces of cheeky advice which definitely allow for taking things one moment at a time, dealing with each wave of craving as it happens:

When I eventually managed to pack in smoking 12 years ago, I first got a pile of leaflets from the Health Education Authority. Perhaps the most helpful tip was that when you get a craving - that overwhelming urge to have a ciggie - that intense desire lasts for about five minutes, then starts to subside.

So, you just need to tell yourself to hold out for five mins and it'll get better.

Hey, it's damn hard. But who wants to be the slave of a cigarette company?

Or how about this method?

It's actually quite simple... just hold your breath for as long as you can. The mind reaction to the high CO2 seems to trick the craving into going away.

And a fairly fatuous-sounding but effective way to give up smoking - just don't have the next cigarette... after about three weeks you really don't notice.

From 20 a Day to 20 a Year

If you can't cut them out completely, then why not cut down so much that you're almost a non-smoker? It sounds a bit of a cop-out, but there's a Researcher out there who recommends the following method:

Remember that nicotine is an incredibly addictive drug. Remember that once you have cracked the physical craving you need to avoid situations in which you used to smoke the most. I smoked for 20 years about 20 a day and it took me three years of trying to give up to get to the state I'm at now. I don't say I've given up completely, but I don't smoke during the football season which lasts from August to May. So for about six weeks a year if I feel like having a cigarette then I have one. However, I don't buy my own, I buy a packet and give it to a smoking friend, so if I ever feel like a cigarette I just take one from my friend. I don't have them hanging around just asking me to smoke them. It's worked for the last two years - I've probably smoked 30 cigarettes in that time - which is about a day and a half's smoking at my previous rate.

Over the last two years the craving has grown less and less - I've been known to go for at least a week without thinking about smoking once. When I first stopped I found chewing gum helped - not nicotine gum which is too strong - but just having something in my mouth helped immensely. But what has helped me the most is the thought that I am going to have a cigarette at sometime in the future - around June sometime. It helps me at any rate. Oh, and I've put on about a stone in weight because my appetite came back which is unfortunate. So anyway don't give up, just cut right down. I've gone from 20 a day to around 20 a year.

Another Way to Quit Your Habit

The following thoughtful response to the smoking issue takes a slightly analytical approach, and ends up providing us with a piece of honest self-examination that undoubtedly draws similar conclusions to those of many others who have 'studied' their own particular addictions. Also, this Researcher's sheer determination is palpable:

At the heart of the matter is the will to deny oneself something one desperately wants. Cigarettes are hard to give up for many reasons - the physical addiction to nicotine, the mental addiction to the feelings one gets while smoking, and the habit of smoking at 'those times'... you know, at the bar, in the car in traffic, after a nice meal, when stressed, and so on.

Each smoker is different, in how much smoking has affected their lives - and thus how much quitting is going to affect them. For example, in my case, the stress of my work is enough to keep me at it. Several of us smoke around here because of it, and it's made quitting all that more difficult. Also due to the stress of my job, is my love of 'going round to the pubs' every weekend - not a good place to try quitting smoking, at least not outside of California, where it is illegal to smoke indoors in bars and restaurants outside of specific 'smoking rooms'.

I think that most drugs are aimed at attempting to alleviate the physical addition to nicotine - the patches and gums - with the most notable exception being the 'zyban' family of drugs - which seemed to be aimed at helping reduce the mental addiction to the feelings one gets when smoking or, more importantly, the feelings one gets when not smoking. When I want a cigarette, I get pretty damn nasty. And I work poorly. Right when I take the first three puffs, I feel so relaxed... but then I start to feel like garbage. It doesn't help my health a bit, and it gives me a slight headache - and yet, I still need that smoke.

So, I looked back at it, and, I think in my case, the root cause has more to do with stress than anything else. I've recently decided to exercise more, for three reasons: it will help reduce my stress greatly; I won't be able to smoke much while exercising and won't want to afterwards or before; it will help me keep off the weight when the appetite comes back. I think that this, combined with a real serious expression of complete and utter will power will help me to finally quit. I didn't like using the gum (the patch did nothing for me) because it was too little to satisfy but enough to tease my cravings. I haven't used Zyban, but I might try it if things get really rough. I'm aged 30 now and I can't help but look back on the last five years and remember how healthy I was the previous ten. I want that health back, and I ain't gonna settle for nothin' less. This is my will. And I'm going to prove that I have what it takes, just like I do every day in my job.

So, now it's time to set the big date for something I will always remember, get up out of this chair, and do it. I used to have the self-discipline to train eight hours every day while going to school and working - I was a nationally-ranked water polo player at one time in my life. Since a severe shoulder injury excluded any swimming or hard throwing from my athletics ever again, I have to change to something new. I like bike riding. And I can really swear a lot at the other drivers on the road, so maybe that will be a fun way to relieve stress.

Sometimes the Drugs do Work

There are drugs out there that you can take to help you in that dreaded overlap period in the journey from smoker to non-smoker. The following tale demonstrates one Researcher's conversion to medication in the quest to give up:

Zyban, also known as Wellbutrin, is a drug available in the U.S. to help people quit smoking. Strangely enough, this drug's original purpose was as an anti-depressant. But tests have shown that for many, it is the answer that they have been looking for to get that nicotine-stained monkey off their backs.

I was a smoker for ten years, and just two months ago I was prescribed Zyban. I have only had one cigarette since then, and that was when I almost got into a car accident in Boston, Massachusetts. I stopped the car, went to the trunk (boot), got out a pack I had noticed there a week earlier when cleaning out the car, and lit up.

Strangely enough, I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all. It tasted horrible, probably because my sense of taste and smell are returning to normal, and I didn't get that same 'lift' that cigarettes used to give me.

So this wonderful drug doesn't replace nicotine (it has no nicotine or any other addictive drug in it), and it doesn't remove the craving for nicotine, it just makes those cravings easier to ignore.

I think I may be cured.

Will Power

Whether we like it or not, the harsh reality for many of us is that we often need will power to achieve the things we really want in life - they don't just happen simply because we want them to. The following is another 'motivational' story from a determined ex-smoker:

There is only one way to stop as far as I'm concerned and that is to just not do it. It's easy to say, but hard to do. I quit smoking twice. The first time, my mother locked me in the house for a week. That really sucked, the physical withdrawal is really bad. After she let me out of the house, I went a couple of months before I started again.

The second time I quit was after two late night visits to the emergency room for asthma. I was incredibly sick for about two weeks. I couldn't eat, much less smoke. After I got better, I just decided not to do it again, it wasn't worth the suffering.

That was about three years ago. I've had one cigarette since and that was about a month after I quit. I got in a wreck and was stressed, so I had one. Then 30 minutes later I wanted another one.

The big difference is that the second time I quit, I did it because I wanted to. If you aren't absolutely positive that you want to quit, don't even try. It's just a waste of time and effort. You have to really want it, because it is hard not to pick it back up. It's been three years and I want a smoke at least once a day.

It has gotten better though. I couldn't go out for a year after I quit. Then I had to drink whenever I went out so I had something in my hand. Now, I'm actually comfortable when I go out. I still want to smoke though, it just doesn't bother me as much. I don't think it will ever go away though.

The only thing that you need to stop smoking for good is will power. I'm lucky that I have the will power not to do it. I just wish I had the will power not to complain to my smoking friends because I'm bitter.

But Watch Out For The Devil

You need determination and will power, that's for sure, especially if, like this next researcher, you have to deal with malevolent voices in your head:

I've found that when I've half-heartedly tried to give up, my mind plays tricks on me. It's like having a little devil on your shoulder whispering things like 'nobody will know if you have one'. Weird.

'It Worked for Me'...

... but not for anybody else, it seems. This is a strange method - a bit Clintonesque in its execution - and apparently 'invented' by the Researcher. It might just work for you. Then again, it might not.

I gave up smoking by stopping inhaling. Still lighting up, but not letting the smoke getting into my lungs. The advantages are: it's very painless; you don't get any barracking from your mates; it doesn't disrupt your life; you don't fail and hate yourself for lighting up. And if your life suddenly goes pear-shaped you can always light up to relieve stress.

The disadvantages are: it takes ages; you have to keep reminding yourself not to inhale for the first few weeks; it's expensive (because you buy a lot of ciggies even though you've given up).

After a couple of months you find it hurts to inhale, so the technique more or less polices itself. Then one day a year or so later, you take out a pack of cigarettes with four or five cigarettes inside it and you can't remember when you bought it, and you throw them away because they're stale. And you don't buy another pack because you couldn't be bothered.

I invented this technique, and I've recommended it to friends and acquaintances, but not one of them has given up smoking and thanked me for my advice. So all I can say is it worked for me.

Learn to Juggle

Would learning to juggle help? Well, it might. And as a metaphor at least for finding a healthy alternative to the act of smoking, juggling seems like a pretty good idea:

A few people have mentioned the problem of not having anything to do with your hands when you quit smoking... and I can't help wondering whether teaching yourself to juggle would both give your hands something to do and you something to concentrate on. Just a thought... I'm (thankfully) not a smoker myself, but if anyone would like to give it a go, I'd be interested to hear the results...

Mathematics as an Aid to Giving up the Weed

Just to demonstrate the diversity of cunning employed by the would-be non-smoker, we've included the following Researcher's anecdote which, interestingly enough, has a distinctly mathematical flavour to it:

I've been smoking now for the best part of 25 years at one stage smoking up to 40 cigs a day and have tried a number of ways to cut down (as I really do enjoy a smoke at certain times of the day). One method I used was to have a smoke on the hour for a week followed by every 2nd hour the following week etc. This worked for a while and I was averaging eight a day.

However, as expected it slowly blew out to one an hour again, which has remained constant for about two years now.

The other week I got up one morning and called into chemist and purchased nicotine inhalers. The recommended does was to use 6 - 12 inhalers a day for 12 weeks. I am using four inhalers a day and having my six cigarettes at times I enjoy most.

I think to give up smoking you must want to give up. I don't at this stage, but for health reasons I know I should give up. When I'm off the inhalers in a couple more weeks I hope to have beaten the addiction to the amount of nicotine I have been used to and still have the occasional smoke. Then one day when I want to give up it will just be a matter of tossing out the ciggies and the lighters and the ashtrays.

That's the plan anyhow.

Go Mental

At the end of the day, it may harm your body, but it's all in the head. Ancient Indian wisdom likens the mind to a riderless chariot 2. And sometimes it really feels like it. We may know that smoking is bad for us. We may feel unhealthy and hate that feeling. We even may intuit a dreadful premature end to our own lives, unless of course we break the habit. But we still smoke. We still bring the hand to the mouth and command the lungs to take a breath. But hang on, who's doing the commanding here? It's that bloody riderless chariot again, the mind. So that's the battle. We have got to conquer a little our runaway minds. We have to get physical, but we also have to get mental. We have to trick the rogue mind into forgetting about the habit of cigarettes. Here's a few more thoughts and insights:

I've been wanting to quit in the last couple of months, and I've found out that the hardest part of it is my mental addiction to smoking. I don't think I'm very addicted to nicotine, and even if I were a nicotine inhalator can help me out fine. Holding a cigarette and smoking it is comforting and reassuring and it's very hard to quit that. Smoking fills out those small empty spaces of time were you don't know what to do with yourself (every party-smoker will probably agree with this). It's all a question of finding new things that can grab your attention and fill out the spaces. And then of course the will power to quit.

And here's a few of the things that can grab your attention and fill out the spaces...

I'm an ex-smoker or a failed smoker? Who gave up about 15 years ago after a lifetime of ciggies, hand-rolled tobacco, and a pipe in the evenings. This is the second time that I have given up - my previous best was two years, then I started going out with a girl who smoked...

Anyway, you need motivation - finance and health are good starters. Mine was sport - I was at an age when I couldn't compete with youngsters who smoked; stopping smoking gave me the edge I needed.

The other thing that helped me was to replace the habits of smoking with something else. I made a sort of rosary thing in my workshops, consisting of pebbles with holes in on a leather thong. This was really therapeutic because it meant that I had something to do with my hands instead of fondling a cigarette.

Yoga relaxation exercises will also help to get over the urge for a ciggie.

Thoughts - the blood of a smoker has a reduced capacity for carrying oxygen. The effect of this is that if you are on top of a 3000 feet high hill, your blood will carry the same amount of oxygen as if you were at 8000 feet! I don't know whether this is due to the nicotine or the other poisons in the smoke, but it sure seems like a good reason to give up!

Of course, now I no longer smoke, I am concerned that if too many people stop, the loss of taxes will eventually mean that the price of good Scotch whisky will have to go up. So please keep smoking - it is saving me money!

Some more thoughts to help get that riderless chariot a rider...

This probably won't work for many other people, but I found it came down to how you thought about it. I convinced myself that smoking was a fairly dull experience, then stopped. Pretty much dead. For a while I smoked occasionally when I was really drunk, but even that petered out in no time.

Somebody else agrees...

You're right. You've got to make smoking a not-nice, not-comforting thing to do. Right now I've stopped smoking when I do other things. If I want a cigarette, I stop what I'm doing at the moment. I find that very often I don't want to take that time out, so I'm smoking much less.

And another! We might be on to something here:

That's a pretty good idea. If I hadn't already quit, I might try it.

A 12 Point Plan of Action

I gave it up over three years ago and now I honestly believe that I will never smoke or touch another cigarette again in my life. I gave it all up - smoking, drinking, party food and I can tell you that smoking is by far the hardest thing of all. I gave up smoking twice before in my life, once for nine months and once for 15, but I started again so it wasn't really giving it up, was it?. For me, finally giving up smoking was a process.

  1. Understand that you are addicted, that you are a cigarette junkie. It's no use being soft on yourself because you are the only one you are fooling. Understand this and start to dislike the fact that you are so weak.

  2. Decide then and there that you are the master of your own destiny and you are not going to be ruled by this ridiculous little white thing.

  3. Start off by smelling your own breath, breathe into your hand and guide it up your nostril. Do this often, especially in the morning. Try smelling your clothes and car. Get close to people who don't smoke and chat into their face and watch closely for their reaction, even if they love you dearly, it will be there.

  4. Listen to that cough that you do occasionally and try running up some stairs. Now ask yourself how much you like life and if you want to maintain a good quality as you grow old.

  5. Get the idea?... you have to learn to hate the fact that this disgusting little habit has you by the goolies3 ... or whatever.

  6. From here, I personally spent quite a few months preparing myself mentally for the task ahead. By now, there was absolutely no question in my mind that I was going to succeed. I was psyched and it was just a question of choosing the right day. I chose an anniversary in November as I wanted to remember the exact day that I did it and I also wanted to be well on my way to achieving my New Year's resolution well before New Year's eve... they fail too often.

  7. I went on holiday for the first five days - I wanted to get away from any stress and the everyday grind.

  8. During those five days I realised that there are two things to deal with - one is the physical withdrawing of nicotine and the other is the habit of lighting up and doing something with your hands. In an effort to take one at a time I bought some patches, seven days' worth which I stretched out to 14 days. This definitely helped with the craving while I dealt with the habit. This involves a lot of talking to yourself, congratulating yourself and counting each day proudly that I was a non-smoker. Every morning for the first few months I literally used to sing out loudly to myself as I drove along, 'I'm a non-smoker! I'm a non-smoker!', to the tune of Monty Python's 'I'm A Lumberjack'. I did buy a second batch of patches, just in case, but I am proud to say that I didn't need them. I also used to look at other people smoking and tell myself how happy I was that I wasn't one of them any more.

  9. Also, for the first two months, I avoided smokers as much as I possibly could, also pubs and clubs were absolutely out. In fact, for a while I became quite unsociable. I had to remain focused.

  10. As time goes by it gets easier and easier. Be warned though, for a few months afterwards you will find yourself coughing a bit as all the rubbish inside your lungs starts breaking up. You even you may break out in spots - I did. However, I just used these things to reinforce my convictions.

  11. Keep yourself busy - read, cook, exercise - whatever turns you on.

  12. Lastly, as time goes on, start speaking in those same peoples' faces again, you will be delighted to see a distinct lack of reaction. Run up those stairs again and see how much more breath you have. From here you can just start enjoying the fact that you are a non-smoker. Also, put the cost of a packet of cigarettes into a jar every day or according to the amount that you smoke and you will be astounded at how much there is at the end of the year. Personally, I spent it all on a holiday.

I hope you find something here that helps. I wish you all well in your efforts to give it up. Remember one thing, these bodies of ours are amazing things, they will recover... it's never too late. As the man said... conceive it, believe it, dream it, achieve it. Good luck.

Love and Cold Turkey

If the solitary resolve of the 12 Point Plan of Action seemed a bit severe, then why not do it with someone else? A problem shared is a problem halved and remember folks, all you need is love...

Well, I call it cold turkey but it's really guilt. I started dating Andy in June of '99. We were very serious right from the beginning and set up a trust system. We decided to be straight and honest with each other.

He said, 'I'm giving up on 1 September. Want to do it with me?' I was an occasional smoker for five years, not as heavy as Andy (one to two packs a day) but bad enough. So I said, 'Sure.' It was romantic to do stuff together.

Quitting was very, very hard and aggravating and I often still want one (although now that I've quit my lungs won't let me start up again. I have asthma and I really think I would fall over dead if I started up again). The thing that really keeps me from having one is that I would have to tell Andy that I caved in. My addiction is far lighter than his and if I give in I'll feel like a wimp and he'll make lots and lots of fun of me. Plus, it's nice to hear 'I'm so proud of you for not smoking, baby.'

Also, because he was such a heavy smoker I have nightmares about moving in with him and having my smoke encourage him to start up again. I can just hear it five years from now in the middle of a bad argument, 'And you got me smoking again! I'm going to die young 'cause of you!!' Even if he would never ever say that, the mere thought is enough to keep me smoke free.

Oh and kids. I want kids in four or five years so I want my body to be well over the effects of smoking.

Resentment and The Combination Method

Again, there's a romantic twist to this particular non-smoking anecdote:

I quit three weeks ago tomorrow. Believe me, I'm still at the counting-the-hours stage, but it's getting easier and easier by the day. For eight years I smoked a pack a day and have wanted to give up for a while, but every time I felt remotely serious about it, I actually realised how much I loved smoking, and promptly ditched the idea. But I grew to resent smoking, so I did bits and pieces of research; talking to people who have successfully quit4. My mum told me to use patches as she'd done. My boyfriend told me to move far away so he'd be safe from my impending irritability.

So I ended up with a combination: I quit overnight with the help of super-strength patches (do not underestimate their value). Yes, I was irritable. But with some of the money I've already saved - £4 a day really racks up - my boyfriend and I spent the weekend being pampered at a luxurious spa hotel in the country. And my clothes still smell nice at the end of the day. Marvellous.

Use The Dark Side

And if all else fails and you find the 'love' approach is not for you, why not use the 'hate' approach? Well, it worked for somebody:

To be fair though I have discovered the easiest way of giving up is to use your dark side. In other words give up out of spite. Simply find a smoker you dislike intensely and then piss them off by giving up and telling them how easy it is and how much better you feel for it. It works for me, one week on and I really don't fancy one at all!

Please Note: h2g2 is not a definitive medical resource. If you have any health concerns you must always seek advice from your local GP. You can also visit NHS Direct or BBC Health Conditions.

1A fag, in Britain, is a cigarette and does not refer to a homosexual person as it would in the United States.2The editor of this particular entry, at the time of writing, after 12 years as a heavy smoker, has gone 10 days without. It is reported that he has employed the cold turkey method. He is said to be agitated and despondent whenever he has a beer in his hand. Apparently, the other hand flops by his side, twitching occasionally. However, he is determined to ignore the gibbering, pleading nonsense of his disturbed monkey-mind that begs for cigarettes, that decries as heresy the notion that alcohol can be consumed without them, and instead he will persevere for the benefit of his body. He no longer trusts most of the radio-buzz humming in his head and has decided to acknowledge the fact that he has a body to look after - flesh, bones, blood and all.3The term 'goolies' is an informal British one meaning 'testicles'.4This particular Researcher also had the good fortune to talk the problem over with none other than Douglas Adams who recommended the cold turkey method - it having worked for him many years before.

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