How to quit smoking?

I have been a smoker for 8 years, and smoke just over a pack a day, and for my health and bike riding I want to quit. I work in a very high stress field (Internet Help Desk… kill me now), and trying to quit cold turkey is not a good idea.

Customer: “I can’t seem to get my Big Gulp out of the cup holder.”
Me: “I’m sorry? The cup holder?”
Customer: “You know, the one that pops in and out on my computer!”
Me: sound of me eating my headset

I have tried a couple of methods (a lung infection: quit for a month, Zyban: quit for just over 24 hours before I hit someome, and cold turkey: lasted about two days), and none of them have worked well.

Just wanted to toss this out to get the snake oil type remedies someone else has tried.

Here is to mine and your good health!

Just quit. If you cannot control your own actions then you have problems deeper then nicotine addiction.

Let me explain. I used to smoke. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, but I smoked. I loved nicotine and the little buzz it gave me. Also, I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to deny myself anything:if it taste good, I’ll eat it. If it makes me happy, I buy it. If it gives me a little buzz, I’ll smoke it.

But when I turned 30 (10 years ago) I realized that some things weren’t worth the pleasure they gave me, the biggest one being Nick.I quit. No more cigs. Haven’t started back up.

The solution is self control and knowing what your priorities are. Just do it!!!

Control, in & of itself, is a much better drug than nicotine. This I promise you.


  1. Start slowly, by elminating “habitual smoking.” This is smoking at times out of habit rather than craving. Smoke while driving your car? Smoke while talking on the phone? Gotta have a cig with your first cup of coffee? Eliminate all these habits. Just have a smoke when you NEED one.
  2. Delay your first cig in the morning. Some people crave a smoke when they first wake up. Try delaying it. Delay for a few minutes at first, then see how long you can stretch it out. Maybe you can make it til noon without a smoke.
  3. Get the patch. It works great. But you’ll still get a bit irritable and have a few cravings when you step down to a lower dosage.
  4. Elminate smokers from your home environment. If you live with someone that smokes, you will not be able to quit smoking. You will cave in.

If it were that simple, everyone would have done it. Do get the patch - it’s expensive, but still cheaper than buying cigarettes. You don’t have to follow the directions – if you continue to have difficulty not smoking, wear the patch longer than advertised (I got this from a doctor who preferred that I wear the patch for longer periods of time than to begin smoking again). I know several people that have chewed Nicorette for years - am sure that this is harmful to them, but less so than inhaling smoke into their lungs. There is also a medication that you can take - name escapes me now at 3:05AM - but can be prescribed by a doctor. I couldn’t take it because of some conflicting problem.

If you can piggy-back antidotes, do so; for example, acupuncture and/or hypnosis.

One thing to avoid - alcohol. Something about alcohol that goes with cigarettes…

That isn’t necessarily true and I don’t think it’s helpful telling him that (it just gives him another excuse not to bother trying).

I’m on my seventh week without a cigarette now, and I still don’t feel like I’m out of the danger zone, but these are the things that have helped me:

  1. The patch. It is an enormous help to have something taking care of the physical cravings while you’re working on eliminating the psychological cravings.

  2. I joined a gym. Being able to work out without gasping for air is one incentive. The amount of money the gym is costing me is another incentive (I can’t afford that and cigarettes).

  3. On the occasions when I’ve been really, really tempted to backslide - usually in the pub - I’ve just taken the “one day at a time” attitude, telling myself that if I can just make it through that night without a cigarette, it’ll be that much easier to do it the next time I’m in that situation. And it has been, so far.

Best of luck to you rob … it sure isn’t fun, but it’s worth it.

For me, I needed a real important reason to quit, other than myself. I had a 16 year old daughter smoking, and figured I couldn’t say anything to her when I was still smoking.

I already didn’t smoke at home (I believed my wife couldn’t smell, a common failing among smokers), so, when we closed down the shop between Christmas and New Year’s, I got the patch and quit.

It will be an individual experience, other’s advice will not necessarily apply to you. I tried tapering down to quit several times, I had to quit cold.

But, best of luck, you will have to work at it, no matter how you do it, it won’t come easy.

One year, eleven months, three weeks, one day, 10 hours, 13 minutes and 0 seconds. 25319 cigarettes not smoked, saving $4,747.48. Life saved: 12 weeks, 3 days, 21 hours, 55 minutes. (Cost based on 1998 prices)

I tried the patch and gum, and failed. But after I was given an intravenous nitroglycerine drip for my heart attack, I never touched nicotine again!

I was able to quit “cold turkey” 10 years ago (though I hadn’t been smoking as long as robgruver). My secret? I had a new lady friend who was a militant non-smoker, and every time I felt the urge to light up, she would “distract” me (use your imagination). Thanks to her help, I was able to kick the habit, though I still get the urge to light up when I’m at the bar. Fortunately, it passes in a couple of minutes.

I am 52 years old. I have smoked since I was 16 years old. I was up to 3+ packs a day. I had tried cold turkey and got, oh, about 10 minutes into quitting and gave up. About 2 or 3 years ago, I decided to use the patch. I did cut down drastically but did not quit. I got down to about 3 cigs a day, but still didn’t quit. I ran out of patches before payday and that was that.

Almost 2 months ago, I was at my computer and my cat jumped right up in front of me and sent the ashtray flying along with about a ton of butts and ashes, all into my keyboard. As I shoved her down from the desk, she landed in the garbage can next to the computer desk. That sent a gozillion butts and more ashes all over the room. I said to myself that I was quitting the filthy things. I went to Wal-Mart, bought the patches, put one on the next morning, and haven’t smoked since. I can attest to the fact that the patches * do * work, considering that I went from 3+ packes a day to 0 cigs a day, but (There’s always a but, isnt there?) you have to really want to quit.

You have already said why you want to quit, so I believe that the motivation is there. The next step is to just do it!! Good luck to you.

As an added bonus for me, it is really great to get up in the morning and not cough up a lung for an hour.

Try the patch. A week’s worth of Walgreen-brand patches costs about as much as a carton of cigarettes. You can wear patches for as long as you need to and it’ll be better for you than smoking.

I didn’t tell him not to try, I told him to eliminate smokers from his home environment. It is extremely difficult to quit smoking when your home environment is full of smoke. It is a constant reminder of your addiction. If the people in your environment cannot support your decision to quit, and respect you enough to not smoke around you while you are quitting, then they are just a bad influence on you. And you will fail. I know it’s true, that’s what happened to me. I’m going to quit again using the patch as soon as I move out of this house, and get away from chain-smoking roommates.

They didn’t let me smoke in the hospital after surgery, but they gave me morphine for three days.
I’m not advocating drug abuse, but if you can do it under adult supervision, it’s a good way to quit.

I was a two-pack-a-dayer for about 20 years when I finally “quit.” I had my last cigerette 15 years ago. I had tried about 6 times previously to stop and the most I lasted was a week or two. Cold turkey did not work for me. So I played a mind-game with myself (and if that makes me weak, so be it.)

First thing I did was simply write down every time I lit up, and made a little note of what I was doing at the time. I noticed I was smoking about every 20 minutes. (This was in the days when you could smoke at work.)

I then began to wean myself off the cigerettes the same way I had gotten addicted to them – one at a time. But I couldn’t just skip one cigerette. That would be too hard. So when I got my next craving I postponed the cigerette, telling myself if I wanted it in 5 minutes I would have it.

The next time I had a craving, I waited 10 minutes. Then when I was comfortable there, I went to 15 minutes. Then 20, and there was one less cigerette smoked.

Over a period of time, I finally got to where I was only lighting 2 cigerettes a day, at which point my lungs started cleaning house. When I inhaled, it hurt for the first time, so I put that one out and postponed the next… and it’s been 15 years.

The quitting was still hard on me. I had cravings for about a year, but they were dwindling. Then my body did a total reversal. I cannot stand the smell of cigerette smoke. I cannot even tolerate the smell of someone who smokes. It makes me physically ill.

It also helps to have someone you can call on to talk when the cravings come, either someone who has been through it successfully, or a family member or a friend who will benefit from your quitting.

I wish you the best of luck.

I’m a former smoker, maximum 60 a day.

IMHO the only thing that DOES work is to stop, in what you call ‘cold turkey’ fashion. You say you’ve tried and it doesn’t work. I understand, I sympathise, I’ve been there too. Let me try to help.

Anything which involves continuing to intake nicotine is not really stopping. It is converting the problem, or disguising it a little, but not really facing up to your real destination: a life free from addiction to nicotine. That is where you want to be. Make a positive and focused choice to achieve it. You don’t need to be superhuman. Human is fine, more than adequate! I’m just one of millions of people who have managed it.

Adjust your attitude, and eliminate negativity. Phrases like ‘cold turkey’ are negative. They re-inforce the little labels that say ‘difficult’ and ‘I can’t do this’ around the task of quitting. Be positive. It’s you versus the tobacco companies, and you can and will win.

Are you going to carry on being fooled by the lies of the tobacco companies? NO. Are you going to sacrifice your lungs so that some fat cat executive at tobacco company X can drive a better car than yours? NO. Are you going to hit middle age and experience problems with your breathing, heart, kidneys, stamina, sex drive… all so that the tobacco fat cats can fit a bigger swimming pool? NO.

Your life. Your choices. YOu are going to STOP. No ifs or arguments. You can and will.

First, prepare. You are going to go through 3 days of physical addition withdrawal. During ths time, your brain will send out ‘Urgent! I need nicotine!’ messages roughly as frequently as you used to smoke e.g. 20 times day. But you control your hands. If you don’t light a cig, you won’t smoke.

Find a good 3 days to have this battle. This ideal is 3 days off work with every indulgence you know how to enjoy except smoking (a sympathetic partner is a great help). Learn some basic breathing, relaxation, visualisation and yoga techniques - they can be very helpful.

And enrol at a gym.

Have your 3 days. They may not be the happiest of your life, but they will be worth it. Congratulations, you have beaten the immediate physical addiction, and your brain will have had time to adjust the way it analyses your blood, and the messages it sends out.

What’s left? The other kinds of addictions that make up part of the smoking habit. Four main ones: social (“I’m out with my buddies having a good time, this is when I really enjoy a smoke”); habitual ("!0.30. Coffe break. I always have a ciggie now"; attitudinal (“Hell, It’s my life and my choice and I can smoke a goddamn cig if I want to”); and emotional (“God, I’m under so much stress, I really NEED a cigarette”).

You need to understand and feel these mechansims inside yourself, and learn counter messages that you issue to yourself. Example, “Yep, I’m out with my buddies having a good time, and I can enjoy myself without sacrificing my lungs to the greater wealth of the shareholders of tobacco company X”. You are, in effect, programming your own behaviour to achieve your own goal.

Don’t count the days or the weeks. You just STOP, get through your 3 days, and then follow the guidelines above. Then you just get on with the rest of your life. A non-smoking life. And forget about it.

Good luck.

Oh, by the way, yes it IS worth doing. Not only will you feel better, but by taking on this challenge in your life and WINNING your self-esteem will soar.

Take a long canoe trip in northern Canada.

My flatmate still smokes in the house. Her smoking never tempts me to start again. A works colleague of mine has been off the cigs for three years now despite being married to a smoker who still smokes at home. Your experience isn’t representative of everyone’s and since not everyone trying to quit smoking is able to eliminate smokers from their home environment it is just irresponsible to tell them that they can’t quit if they don’t.

ianzin doesn’t seem to understand is that smoking cessation tools are not meant to be taken forever. After a few months (maximum) you will be free of your addiction to nicotine. (And Zyban doesn’t contain nicotine at all, BTW.) Has anyone ever seen a study in which cold-turkey quitters had greater success rates than quitters who used Zyban or the patch? I sure haven’t. That in itself should tell you that the “cold turkey is the only way to go” attitude is unrealistic.

Well, ruadh, you say you aren’t tempted to smoke when your roommate smokes, but were you living with smokers when you quit? Do you remember what it was like, smelling smoke when you had just quit 2 days ago? Sure, it isn’t a problem now, years after you quit. But it sure as hell IS going to mess you up when you’ve just quit. If you want to quit, you really have to get some cooperation from smokers in your household, and get them to not smoke around you. It is the one biggest thing you can do to improve your odds of success.
Honestly, I don’t really think you know what you’re talking about, when you say things like using the patch will eliminate your addiction to nicotine. It does no such thing. It SUSTAINS your addiction to nicotine while you work on eliminating your psychological addiction to cigarettes. You still have to go through withdrawls on the patch, although they are easier to control than just cutting down smoking. If you use the patch for a couple of weeks, then stop, you’ll go through nicotine withdrawl just like quitting cigs cold turkey.
BTW, I recently heard of a survey on use of the patch. Some people cheat and smoke a little bit when using the patch, which is totally counterproductive as you are INCREASING your nicotine consumption. The survey indicated that people who did not even smoke 1 cigarette after starting the patch had a 50% higher success rate. When you use the patch, you MUST completely stop ALL smoking. No cheating allowed.
BTW, Zyban has been proven effective in many scientific studies. The effect was originally discovered by doctors that prescribed Wellbutrin (the name for Zyban when it is sold as an antidepressant) noticed that 80% of smokers who took wellbutrin quit smoking spontaneously. They reportedly lost the urge to smoke, and just stopped. And these were people who were NOT trying to quit smoking.



I didn’t quit “years” ago. I quit less than two months ago. My flatmate smoking doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Why is it so difficult for you to accept that the quitting experience is different for everyone?

sigh You didn’t read what I wrote at all, did you. I didn’t say the patch itself eliminates the addiction.

Agreed. I know a girl who simply pulls the patch off when she wants a fag. She’s been on the patch for, I think, about six months now. Clearly this is someone who isn’t really prepared to quit - the patch won’t help her.

Hi ruadh. We’re both trying to provide the most helpful response we can to the OP, though from differing viewpoints. Of course I understand that the patch etc. are not meant to be taken forever. I’m just offering the OP my best advice based on my own experience (two failed attempts to give up, and one, final, success) and that of a great many people I’ve known over the past 15-20 years who have wrestled with this problem. It seems to me that those who adopt some form of substitute or half-way house (e.g. patches) are the ones who eventually fail, or at least are more likely to. I believe this is because they are, at root, opting to substitute one form of craving-satisfier with another, rather than defeating and eliminating the craving.

I can’t agree with your reasoning here. It’s really tough trying to find comparative success surveys which are definitive and impartial. Those who profit from patches etc. are obviously keen to highlight any surveys which commend their product, and to ignore any which find differently. What you persist in calling the ‘cold turkey’ method obviously has no lobbyists since it doesn’t make money for anyone!

As anyone reading this thread can see, I never said ‘cold turkey’ was the only way to go - I said it could work, did work and would work provided the OP prepared for it in the correct way. There is nothing unrealistic about this assertion. My own life and health are very realistic concerns to me, and I had three hard fights with the weed before I managed to get rid of it for good - which I did using the methods I explained before.

I’m glad for anyone who manages to quit, by whatever method. I guess there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and personality factors play their part. I just wanted to let the OP know that what some persist in calling ‘cold turkey’ (a label so negative it is prejudicial and self-defeating) really is a viable option. Whatever else, it has the merits of being the least expensive, and swiftest.

Uh, this is what you said:

So I’m sorry if I misunderstood you, but really, it’s hard to see what other interpretation I could possibly have given that statement.

Is the US Surgeon General profitting from patches etc.? (serious question) What about the American Cancer Society? I agree 100% with you that these may not be the best methods for everyone, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that it’s mainly the makers of these products who are saying that they generally work better than nothing.