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Help to Quit Smoking.


I've quit cold turkey since August 2000, and for the rest of my life. Here are some things I learned along the way.

There are two major requirements to quitting successfully: wanting to do it and believing you can. If you're smoking for the sensual appeal, try a water bottle instead - it'll help with the tactile sensations (fingers, lips, mouth, throat), and flush the nicotine out of your system faster to boot. If you're smoking for relief of cravings, realize that cigarettes are the cause of your nic fits, not the solution. You're not saying goodbye to an old friend when you quit; you're saying good riddance to an old enemy. If you're attracted to the romantic image of smoking (the appearance of being unafraid of death), remember the reality - yellow teeth, bad breath, stinky clothes, premature aging and death. If you're the countercultural type, and you're paying the most corrupt corporations on earth to slowly kill you, you should probably stop it. =P

I don't have to go over all the diseases cigarettes can cause - the image at right should be gross enough - but for me, it wasn't about sickness and death in the future, it was about lower quality of life in the present. When I quit smoking my energy levels rose dramatically, it was easier to get up in the morning, my sense of smell and taste grew stronger... I could exercise and I grew to love it and it made me feel even better, I could control my spending, sometimes the same bill stayed in my wallet for over a week... and even when my life hit a low point, I could say to myself, "at least I don't smoke anymore." It's not about avoiding emphysema when you're 50 or throat cancer when you're 60; it's about the huge difference that quitting can make in your life right now. If that doesn't convince you, visit your local retirement home and talk to some people who wish they'd quit when they had the chance.

Everyone talks about how hard quitting is, so they won't feel bad about starting up again; that's a cop-out if I've ever seen one. It's not that hard unless you think it is. Take control of your life, with an iron fist if you have to; make your decision and stick to it, no matter what. Of couse it takes willpower, but when one's life is at stake in both quantity and quality, and they really realize that, amazing reserves of willpower come into play. My grandpa quit after 25 years of 2 packs a day, and I firmly believe that anyone can do the same.

As for what to expect when you quit: for me the cravings peaked at about 2 weeks, and slowly declined from there. For about a year I craved when I was drunk; then I didn't crave at all, and now it grosses me out the way it should. It's a gradual process and takes long-term vigilance, but it gets easier and easier over time.

There'll be some old triggers (especially drinking) that'll encourage you to take just a drag or two... and before long you'll be smoking "just when I'm drunk", then "just at work", then "one or two a day", then back where you started. I've seen it happen too many times. When the addiction's completely gone, in at least a couple of years, have a drag so you can wonder why you ever did anything so disgusting. Until then, if you have a drag or two, you'll probably slide right down the slippery slope, and if you don't, you're just prolonging the withdrawl. Avoid the triggers if you need to - I quit drinking for a couple months, and that did make it easier.

If you're moving or changing jobs, it's a good time to quit, since new surroundings encourage new habits. If you're going to move in a few months, it's a perfect time to quit, right now. Forget about that memorable last cigarette, on a special occasion that never comes; throw out half a pack and say "forget it. I'm done." From then on, follow the simplest and best advice, courtesy of Kyle: don't put them in you mouth, and don't light them. That's the best advice one can give.