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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How I Quit Smoking in One Day

The No Smoking sign, designed by one of the me...
The No Smoking sign, designed by one of the members of AIGA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        I've known many people who smoke.   Many of those smokers say that they'd like to quit.  At times they may have tried unsuccessfully,  only to go back to their old smoking habits.   Some have tried varying methods such as the patch, hypnosis, or substances like Nicorette gum.  In the end they often will go back to their old habit.  If they do manage to curb the habit they may suffer withdrawal symptoms or have overbearing cravings.  They are addicted--or so they say.

        I have never had to deal with much in the way of addictive behavior other than my cravings for sugar and salt.  I suppose these could count as my addictive substances, but tobacco was never a problem for me to kick.   I had two heavy smoking periods--one from 1980 to 1983 and the other from 1990 to 1997.  During these periods I smoked a steady two to three packs a day.   I think that qualified me as a fairly heavy smoker.

        At the end of each of these smoking periods there came a time when I just decided to quit and did.  My experience is different than that I've heard from many life-long smokers.  The excuse (I'm going to call it an excuse) is that they've smoked since teenage or even childhood years and the habit is too ingrained.  Some might say they have a physical addiction to smoking and actually suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop.  I'm not sure if there is credible research about this or not, but I am more inclined to believe it's mainly a psychological addiction and for some a crutch that they don't want to let go of.

         There were several factors that led me to stop smoking.   A big one was the economic factor.  When someone asked me how much it cost me just for the cigarettes (that's not including the health costs down the road), I figured I was spending over $2000 per year on cigarettes during my second bout with the habit.  When buying one pack or a carton of cigarettes at a time, the scope of the cost wasn't so evident, but to look at the cumulative figures was eye-opening.  I might as well have been burning money.

         The other factors were my health, my kids, and the way I smelled.  Then I met the woman who was to become my present wife.  She was a non-smoker and though she accepted my smoking, I knew she didn't like it.  When I recognized that we were looking at a future together, that's when I decided to just quit.  I finished that last pack and never bought another after that.

          Quitting had virtually no effect on me.   Sometimes I might smell someone else's cigarette smoke and have a brief craving, but that was about it.  I'm glad I stopped.  I feel much better.  And cigarettes are more expensive now than they were when I was smoking back in the '90's.   That's money that I can put to far better use.

          Do you or have you ever smoked?   Have you ever quit smoking or tried to quit?   How did it affect you?   Do you think that cigarette smoking is actually physically addicting?   

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  1. I'm so pleased to hear your quitting story Lee because it's awesome to read a success story when it comes to quitting smoking. Great post buddy, I'm an on and off smoker, I can go months without smoking yet when I'm on a night out and I get a few drinks in me I could smoke a whole 20 pack which is just crazy! You're evidence that the habit can be kicked and can be kicked in the long term, there's something that everybody can learn from this.

  2. I quit smoking on the 2nd of January 2011. I've never looked back. The first three months were hell but after that it was plain sailing...a slight craving every now and then but I then remind myself why I stopped.

  3. I smoked for seven years but then easily quit in one day. I got a nice case of pneumonia that put me in the hospital halfway through college. I didn't reaLLy miss it after that, and I had recently lost both grandfathers to Pall Malls.

  4. I have never smoked. Thought it was a disgusting habit. Don't understand the attraction. Then again, I don't have an addictive personality.
    Good for your wife's influence!

  5. I used to smoke a half a pack a day and loved each and every cig. When I got breast cancer I quit. I didn't want to play cancer roulette to see where else I'd get it. The decision was easy...the longing for a smoke not so. It's been 26 years cigarette and cancer free.

  6. Hi, Lee,

    Considering conditions today, smoking can be a very expensive habit. Most of the people I know who quit did so for health reasons.

    Like you, I have that sugar/salt thing. I gave up sugar in my coffee and used salt and creamer instead. Now, I realize that the sugar crept back in and I didn't notice. Gotta do something about that.

    Enjoy your day!

  7. Thank God I am was never addicted. Good for you that you broke out of it :)

  8. I absolutely believe smoking is addictive. I have that addictive personality thing going on but never started smoking tobacco. I never liked the way it smelled and, once I started kissing boys, I knew I never wanted to smell or taste like stale tobacco. I am holding my own against alcohol these days (my negative addiction of choice) and cling to a positive addiction that involves physicality- getting out and moving this body in the world in some way every day (biking, walking, swimming - something). It works for now.

  9. I think for some the addiction is physical and psychological. Certain habits/addictions are going to affect you physically--how can they not? I think a person has to have the right mindset to effectively change any habit. Kudos to you for doing so!


  10. Yeamie -- Drinking can be very conducive to adding smoking into the mix. Since they banned smoking in L.A. in most indoor facilities including bars there is less of a temptation to smoke while out drinking. I don't go out and drink either, but it seems logical that most people will forego smoking rather than step outside to a smoking area.

    Daft -- I didn't deal with any going through hell experience. It was just a matter of stopping for me.

    esbb -- A bit of life reality can prod us into quitting.

    Alex -- I was mostly an anti-smoker prior to starting so maybe that's another reason why it was easy for me to quit.

    Em -- Better to live smoke free and be healthy.

    JL - I think sugar is a very addictive substance. And it tastes so good.

    Bhavya -- I'm glad I stopped too.

    Gracie - Yes, but physically addictive? I question that. I think it's a matter of mind and mind power is what helps us to kick a habit. At least that's the way I see it.


  11. Sia -- I'd be interested in seeing some convincing research about physical addiction. I do agree with you about the body changing though.


  12. I tried cigarettes when I was a teen and didn't like it. In movies especially, cigarette smoking was considered sophisticated, in the coffee houses, the jazz bars, etc.

    Health issues, cost and the smell did it for me. At one point, my sister, one daughter and my best friend at work all smoked. I diligently but gently kept asking them to quit. It took health issues for sis to quit, and daughter did it on her own as her partner doesn't smoke. Best friend still smokes off and on - as her husband does. They both keep trying to quit, so they say.

  13. Smoking is very addictive. Thank God, you gave it up, Lee. Forget about the expense, think of the health hazards of smoking.

  14. Never smoked and glad I haven't. Congrats on quitting and all the reasons you listed are excellent ones.

  15. What I 'm about to write may shock you and don't happen to everyone.:

    When my daughter was about 18 months old it was a New Years Eve, my husband who had smoked for many years decided to "Give up" just like that.
    To my amazement he succeeded and my doctor told us within five years all trace of smoking would be out of his system.
    Well 25 yrs down the line he was diagnosed with lung cancer and the consultant blamed his early smoking. He had his lung removed and seemed to recover at great speed. However the following year he was diagnosed with brain cancer which had gone too far and he passed away two months later.
    I still wonder if the brain cancer was there first or the other way round.

  16. DG -- I guess some of my family and friends back in Tennessee still smoke, but since I'm rarely there I'm not around it. It bugs me when people say they're trying to quit smoking. Either you quit or you don't--there's no trying.

    Rachna -- I hope the years I did smoke did not affect my health too adversely. Smoking is bad for the smoker and for those who have to live with the smoke.

    Sheena-- I never dreamed that I'd ever become a smoker and then I started smoking. No point in it though.

    Yvonne - Yes, we never know sometimes. Hopefully I won't have to deal with any negative consequences resulting from my having smoked.


  17. My mom and I were just talking about smoking yesterday. Funny that you bring it up today. My aunt was a lifelong smoker who never could quit, despite the fact that she battled cancer over and over again. It made my mom and I crazy. She died of bone cancer last year, and had the beginnings of lung cancer going. It was insane. Both she and my mom started smoking in their teens.

    My mom quit in her 20s. My dad was a smoker, too, who also quit but a bit later. One of them tapered off and the other quit cold turkey. I can't remember now who quit which way. They both quit when I was VERY YOUNG. I don't remember either of them smoking. My dad smoked a pipe when I under the age of 10. He quit that, too.

    My mom said yesterday that it helped her to quit doing things that she also did when she smoked. For instance, she used to drink a LOT of coffee. She kept a pot of coffee on all day long. During her smoking days, before I was born and after she was married (and not working) she would do housework and then sit down at the table and drink coffee and have a cigarette. Coffee and cigarettes went together. So, when she quit smoking she also quit drinking coffee in the afternoon. Coffee was a trigger for a cigarette craving.

    I tried smoking once in college. I inhaled. Hated it. Coughed and gagged and thought I would hack up my lung. Never did see the attraction for it. And the smell. Gah. It makes my allergies go something fierce. Good thing I didn't develop a taste for it.

  18. My Dad was a smoker until he quit when I was 11 years old. Before that I remember him leaving a lit cigerette in the ash tray and I gingerly walked up and took a quick puff. when I started to hack loudly he ran into the room and deduced what I had done. He simply said "Ok, remember this awful feeling and how horrible it tastes...and never ever smoke again!"
    I never did and shortly after that he quit smoking.
    So glad that you quit too!
    Blessings, Joanne

  19. I've smoked at different points in my life, but only socially. I was never a heavy smoker. I decided one day that was it and it was. Of course, my husband still smokes. I wish he would quit again. He's one of those who quits and goes back, quits and goes back.

  20. My dad had been a pack-and-a-half to two-pack-a-day smoker since he was a kid. When he was in his 60's, he needed heart surgery. The surgeon told Dad he wasn't going to waste his time and surgical skills if Dad was going to continue smoking. Dad pulled the pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and dropped it in the doctor's wastebasket. He never smoked again. I was incredibly proud of him. (By the way, he's now 88 and going string.)

  21. Always encouraging to hear of those who quit. I am convinced it is both psychologically and physiologically addictive. I am married to a non-smoker but I enjoy my Camels, so smoke alone outside in the garden at times, always on my own. I am respectful of non-smokers and do not smoke in their company. It is a horrible horrible habit ... of which I am guilty.

  22. Yes sir, I smoked from 1969 to 1978. 69-72 was probably a pack or less a day. From 72 onwards it increased to three packs a day.

    I quit in August of 1978 in one day. I prayed, asked God to take away the habit, wadded up a pack of Kools, threw them in the trash.

    I started smoking good cigars about 2000, one in a blue moon or so. But even quit them around 2010.

    Been smokeless ever since.

    It has been so long since I quit that the only affect I can remember is weight gain. I stopped smoking some 50 cigarettes per day and drinking 3 pots of coffee a day to actually eating three meals a day, I put on the pounds.

    I think it is both mentally and physically addicting. It is tough to quit. But the real reason people don't quit is that they don't want to.

    If you truly want to quit you will. I do not for one moment give an inch of credence to anyone whose says they can't.

  23. Robin -- I've never understood people who become very sick from smoking yet continue to smoke even on their death bed.

    Joanne -- Having kids can make parents rethink a lot of bad habits.

    Carol-- I wonder if there is a trigger that causes your husband to start smoking again after he's quit?

    LD -- Great story and good for your dad.

    Susan S.-- Camels! That's a hardcore brand!

    Gregg-- I think you've nailed the key to quitting. It's difficult to do anything you don't want to do. Having an incentive to quit is important. I didn't take you to have been a smoker, but glad to hear that you quit.


  24. Glad you stopped. I never started. If I had I could see myself getting hooked on the act of smoking...the having something to do with my hands when I am nervous kind of thing. My mother always smoked, my father did for years before quitting...and he ended up with mouth cancer. I never was a fan of the smell, or a used ash tray. Now that I am rarely near smokers I can't bear it.

  25. Due to computer problems and the fact that at least mentally, my comment on your apathy post was growing into an unmanageable rant. I managed to refrain from clogging up your comment box with my soapbox comment. Lucky you and your readers, BUT not so today. I simply cannot pass up on the opportunity to comment on ‘Quitting Smoking”.

    I quit smoking in less than one day. I quit smoking in that split second it took me to take that last drag and snub that last fag into the ashtray. It’s my personal opinion that everybody quits exactly the same way OR they don’t. In the case of something like smoking when you make that decision that you are going to quit and this will be your last cigarette, it is that instant that you quit, if you go back and smoke again, well, then you never actually quit, now did you? Anyway, that’s probably me just splitting hairs and being a smart ass.

    I do want to comment on the fact of addiction. I firmly believe that nicotine addiction is very real. It’s real physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and in every mental capacity possible. I had no idea how addicted I was until I quit. When friends and family finally encouraged me to go and see a doctor he was literally rubbing his hands together at the prospect of treating such a nut job interesting case. I found at the same time that I was also addicted to caffeine (not much of a surprise there) and between the withdrawal of both the nicotine and caffeine I was awake for about ten days straight. When I say awake I want to make it perfectly clear that I was not only not sleeping but I was wallpapering the kitchen, designing a newer and more efficient form of jet propulsion and working on quantum physics (not really, but it sure did feel like that). I suffered some very real physical reactions also, like developing a case of severe bronchitis as my lungs and bronchial tubes tried to clear out all of the goop. I knew if I had so much as one drag on a cigarette I would be hooked all over again so, for two full years I had nightmares that I had smoked. For years afterward I would be in a restaurant and after a meal I would start searching around in my purse for something that I could never find. Finally, one day a friend asked me what I was looking for, when faced with that question, I realized that I was looking for my non-existent cigarettes.

    I realize that not everyone is going to be so thoroughly addicted (I wasn’t even that heavy of a smoker nor had I smoked for decades when I decided to quit), but everyone does have the potential to be. I told my children that when they would be considering whether or not they wanted to cultivate a habit like smoking, think about the fact that everybody who smokes at some point wants to quit. Quitting isn’t easy, so why set yourself up for that type of torture.

    All that said, I don’t mean to sound like the pious ex- anything. Quitting anything that has become a habit is hard; giving up an addiction is even harder. My heart goes out to those who would like to quit but are unable. I used to envy those who could smoke a few cigarettes when they were out socializing and having a few drinks and then set it aside for months at a time. Today, I’m grateful that I don’t even have that ability. I’m sure that even after all the time I have spent as a non-smoker, it would be far too easy for me to be back to a pack a day with no thought at all.

  26. It's amazing that you were able to quit smoking so easily. I always hear stories of how difficult it is. Your family must be so grateful that you quit when you did, and we all feel the same way.


  27. Liza -- Before I started smoking I would have never dreamed I would one day become a smoker. It was an act of defiance in one sense and perhaps self-punishment in another.

    Faraway -- Yours is an interesting case study that may be related to another facet of smoking that I intend to discuss at some time in the future. I guess I would have to be convinced that anything is actually physiologically addicting. Maybe I should try it with sugar to see what happens, though with sugar so prevalent in so many things we eat and drink it might be difficult. I guess I could start with candy. I still think that there is no such thing as someone wanting to quit something and not be able to do it. If you want to do something bad enough I think you can do it so long as it is in the realm of possibility. Hope you catch my future post on smoking and let me know what you think. I'm going to put the topic in my schedule right now for sometime in July.

    Julie -- I have always heard the stories as well. I think I know part of it. Watch for an upcoming post on this topic.


  28. Lee, that was a great post. And as an ex-smoker myself I applaud your ability to quit smoking as you did.

    I smoked from the age of about 18 until about age 36. Oddly I was involved in Amway at that time and used their product to quit. And did quit. Seven or eight years went by and I slowly started smoking again. First only on weekends at the lake while drinking beer and then more and more. I quit again on New Years day in 2002 as I was having knee surgery in a couple weeks and figured it was a good resolution.

    Amazingly it lasted and I have not smoked since. My wife however has had a very difficult time. She is now on the e-cigarette and her second round of Chantix. Results are so-so as she is not one to adopt a new habit easily and her Chantix regimen has been spotty. I encourage and help as I can.

    I know this, it was hard to do it once and harder to do it twice. I am proud of the fact I have powered through it and not looked back.

    Congrats to both of us.

  29. So good you quit... I've never smoked, but can only imagine how hard it was to give up. Well done.

  30. I never picked up the habit, though not from lack of trying. Everyone in my family smokes, when growing up my friends smoked. It just seemed the thing to do, and I honestly do have a nicotine craving once in a while. But, it just never stuck past a half a cigarett. Weird - but I'm not a beer, chocolate or mexican food lover either, so I'm pretty much an outcast for normal society :).

    My sister quits and starts over and over. She hasn't decided to quit for herself, she quits cuz it makes others happy. But, as she says, she enjoys smoking. Yeah, she's addicted, physically and emotionally, but everyone has a vice (healthy or not) and this is just her's.

    No matter what everyone says about it, I doubt I'll ever give up my diet pepsi habit. Or potato chips. No will power at all there.


  31. I smoked on and off through my teen years and early adulthood. Never addicted and quit when I wanted to.

    People who say they are trying to quit frustrate me. Just do it! Just quit. It really only takes a split second to make the decision. To flip that switch in one's brain. Someone who says they want to quit but continue to smoke don't really want to quit.

  32. Actually, Diane, its not that easy, it depends how hooked you are. I started smoking at 18 yrs. old. In later years I tried quitting and maybe managed for a month or so and then went back. Hubby quit cold turkey when he was 50 and I tried once again. Didn't work for long. Finally, about 16 years ago I bought a Life Sign computer (name has changed since), a little gadget on which I pressed a button whenever I smoked for a week and then for the next month it told me when to smoke and I pressed the button when I did. On the last day, which I remember was July 14, I cheated and had 2 cigarettes. I haven't smoked since.

  33. Goood to be back at blogosphere and then read such an amazing post by you :).. The way you've written about quitting smoking, it seems very easy. One of my friends quit smoking a few months back but he faced dire consequences after it. Withdrawal symptoms included frequent vomits, severe migraines and what not. But, he did make through it.

    I guess the effects of quitting smoking depends on every individual.

  34. Chuck -- Yeah, those week-ends at the lake drinking beer will do it every time:) I think it might be especially tough with a spouse who smokes and has a hard time quitting. The first time I quit, my wife quit at the same time and that made it easier for both of us.

    TF -- Some people have quite a difficult time quitting.

    Donna -- If you enjoy smoking (or anything you might think about giving up) it makes it really difficult to quit. My question is do smokers truly enjoy it? I'll have another post regarding this in July.

    L.Diane -- I totally agree with you.

    Jo -- I guess different methods work for different people.

    Lubaina -- Those extreme reactions to quitting make me wonder. I've not heard of such things for tobacco "addiction", but like you say different people may react in different ways.


  35. I have never smoked and have never been tempted to even try. As a health teacher, I know the statistics and medical research that believed nicotine is one of if not the most addicting drugs people use. I'm glad you quit.

  36. Susan GK -- Apparently I'm not affected by nicotine addiction. I felt nothing after quitting.


  37. I'm glad you stopped to dad. love you

  38. Since I tell middle school kids that nicotine is addictive, I did some research. Ge here

    to review research from the Nat'l Institute on Drug Abuse. The discussion re: dopamine is particularly insightful.

  39. I puffed once or twice, but never got into it. I'm glad you quit Lee! The economics and health reasons should make anyone quit. However, I believe their is a physical addition that is difficult to break. I'm glad you gave it up for your wife. You both are better off. If I did have an addiction, I would do my best to quit for my wife and son. Very powerful motivation!

  40. Arlee, so glad you quit smoking. I smoked for awhile when I was young. I'm so glad that that bad habit didn't last very long for me.

  41. Emilee -- I love you too Em!

    Gracie -- I guess certain people are more susceptible to the addictive properties of certain things.

    Buck ---Addictions are drains on money and health that could be served for better things like family.

    Susanne -- When we're young it sometimes seem like smoking is the cool thing to do, but it's not.


  42. My dad was a heavy smoker and even after a heart attack and bi-pass surgery in his 30's he did not quit. I was in junior high and this made me hate smoking so much that I have never even wanted to touch one. I think my dad was in his 50's when he finally quit cold turkey.

  43. Good for you, Arlee! I've never smoked; I've never even held a cigarette. My sister smokes and it worries me to no end. Her fiancé, his entire family, and her friends smoke, and I imagine it's more difficult for smokers to quit when most of the people close to them smoke, too. I'm afraid it's going to take a huge health crisis to happen before she'll quit. I want her to quit before that happens! It's very disconcerting :(


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