How I Quit Smoking: Kicking The Habit After Two Decades

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One of the achievements I’m most proud of in my life is managing to quit smoking. Mainly because, if I’m being honest, smoking was something I absolutely loved to do even though I knew how objectively terrible it was for me. I picked up the habit quite young so it became something that was a huge part of my personality, yet for some reason people were always really surprised to discover I was a smoker. Maybe I should have taken that as a clue about smoking not really being meant for me.

Over the years I tried to quit endless times, but I was always doing it for other people and my heart wasn’t in it; so when I tried and succeeded in quitting for the final time no one was more surprised than me. Whether you’ve smoked for a long time or not, if you’ve found your way here because you’re looking for pointers for your own quit then let me share with you the three simple things that actually worked for me: a dyed in the wool smoker of 24 years who, if she was honest with herself, didn’t even really think she’d ever manage to do it.

Cutting Down

As a byproduct of trying to quit so many times over the years, before I finally quit for good I’d managed to cut down to a very small number of cigarettes a day, maybe four or five at a push. I was also smoking menthols by this stage too, so they weren’t very strong at all. I think this preparation put me in a really strong position to stop smoking before I started on my next steps. I will mention that cutting down isn’t always recommended as the best course of action for everyone so, as with all my tips here, your mileage may vary on this one.

Allen Carr Easyway

I hate SO MUCH that this TERRIBLE book worked! I read it from cover to cover in the first week of my quit, it’s badly written, repetitive, and some of the language is unfortunate but it did so much for my frame of mind regarding smoking and quitting. Essentially, it placed the thought in my head that I wasn’t giving anything up, in fact I was gaining the chance to not have to smoke any more. Of everything I did while quitting, I’d argue it was the fundamental shift in belief reading this book gave me that made the biggest difference.

There are tons of versions of Easy Way, but I read the classic Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. You can pick up a second hand copy from most places for around a quid. I’m conflicted about recommending it because although it worked for me, some of the language surrounding weight and women hasn’t aged very well at all. I’d love to see a rewritten and modernised version published that I can proudly recommend, if I ever find one I’ll come back here and update.

Smoke Free App

The Smoke Free app is, on the surface, a little like Pokemon Go but for quitting smoking. It shows you how things in your body, like your circulation and energy levels, are improving in real time as your quit progresses. You can see how much money you’re saving, which is incredibly motivating, and you collect badges for achievements like time milestones and amount of cigarettes not smoked. There’s even a quit coach AI bot that you can check in with to waste a little time if you’re having a craving or need a pep talk.

I only intended to use this app to mark time with, but it ended up being an invaluable resource, especially during the hard slog of the first three weeks. I’m sure there will come a time when I let it fall by the wayside, but for now I still use it every day to check in with myself. I started out with the free version and ended up paying a one off fee of £4.99 for access to a few more features, but you don’t need to – all the important parts are free.

And that’s it. The three elements outlined here make up the recipe that led to success for me. I don’t have to smoke anymore because I’m no longer a smoker and the feeling is wild. I haven’t had any cravings for ages, they stopped completely after I realised that checking the stop smoking subreddit was the only time I was having cravings or thinking about smoking, so I haven’t recommended anything like that here.

As I said at the beginning, different things work for different people. You may not get on with something I’ve recommended here and of course none of my advice is intended to replace that of your doctor. Similarly, if you don’t like the sound of my recommendations then try something else, there’s a wealth of stuff out there to try. Ultimately, if you’re considering quitting then why not just give it a go, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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