I started smoking cigarettes when I was 16. Now I am 52 and I went through various attempts to quit smoking. Here is what I found out, what works and what does not.
This is the advice you probably hear most frequently. It does not work well. Still you hear it over and over again, maybe even with the remark that there is no alternative to just quitting. Still there are many smokers who did successfully quit smoking this way.
So what is wrong with this method?
- You are told that only the initial phase will be hard and but that in the long run you will not have to sacrifice anything. This is not true. Nicotine is a drug and I does have a real pleasant effect. You will sacrifice a lot. You will sacrifice much much more than a Jeniffer Aniston fan who is no longer allowed to watch her movies.
- You are given the impression that only idiots smoke and that only idiots can't quit. This add a negative aspect to your entire life. Any quit smoking method that doesn't work will do this to you.
Many smokers have managed to quit smoking temporarily using this method and most of them have started smoking again and they enjoyed it. For me this is definitely true and it has disasterous effects. Not only you will find yourself still smoking, but
- The idea that you should quit smoking becomes your daily companion. Much of your brain power is absorbed for fighting this inner battle, trying to justify why you smoke. In a way a smoker who never tried to quit is much better off.
- Your life will go in circles. You will get used to circles. Maybe you have some other vices to fight and chances are, these will go in circles as well. As soon as you start smoking again a lot of these "I might as well" thoughts will enter your mind. I actually gain weight when I'm smoking, because I think "I might as well overeat".
If you really try to quit smoking using this method, here are some hints which I found useful:
- Leave your usual environment. It is best to travel east or west so you have a substantial jet lag. Your inner clock controls your smoking behavior too and it tolerates not smoking at night. You can can put yourself into a situation where your inner clock thinks it is night while it is really day and your urge to smoke will be much weaker than usual.
- You need to go through all the situations where you would usually smoke but this time you refuse to smoke. This is quite painful and you won't have as much fun as you would usually have. But the list of such situations is not infinite. If you ever start smoking again, chances are that this happens in an unexpected situation, a situation you didn't train for.
Smoking cigars is better than smoking cigarettes because you don't inhale. It is better for your lungs, but bear in mind that you still breathe smoke-filled air. Some of my friends have completely switched from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to smoking one cigar a week.
Cigars have their strong points:
- You are doing something stylish. There are good and bad cigars and you can "do yourself something good" by buying a good cigar. You don't have to give up this rewarding mechanism entirely.
- The give you nicotine, but it takes much longer until you feel the effect. The shorter the time between taking a drug and feeling an effect the more addictive the drug is. This is true for Cocaine vs. Crack taking Heroine pills vs. injecting Herione and it is also true for Cigars vs. Cigarettes. In any case, smoking cigars still allows some nicotine in your life and you don't have to accept the thought of a life without nicotine, which would be hard to swallow for most smokers.
But cigars also have their problems. The biggest problem for me was
- It takes at least 30 minutes to smoke a cigar. Even today, where smoking cigarettes has become really difficult it is still easier to smoke cigarettes than smoking cigars. Once you are down to one cigar a week you will probably be able to find an arrangement where you can smoke in peace.
- Smoking cigars is even less tolerated than smoking cigarettes. I don't know why this is so. Cigars smell much better than cigarettes, if you ask me.
I never tried pipe smoking, but I believe it is very similar to smoking cigars, except it may be a little cheaper in the long run.
Nicotine patches do work. They take away the craving to some extent, but they are simply no fun and all and they are expensive.
- There is no oral satisfaction at all.
- You need to buy them at a pharmacy. I don't like the idea being recognized by the pharmacy clerk "here is this guy again, seems he still did not manage to quit smoking".
- Your nicotine level will be constant or slowly degrading as the patch wears out. But what us smokers need is a nicotine deficiency ever so often. We can then "fix" this problem by smoking another cigarette. A nicotine patch does not do this.
- It shows. I hate it when I go to the shower in my gymn and notice that I am still wearing a nicotine patch.
- You will have to spend about the same amount of money for nicotine patches as you spent on cigarettes.
So for me, nicotine patches have proven not to be a permanent solution.
Nicotine chewing gum
Nicotine chewing gum is slightly better than patches as they provide oral pleasure and the much desired up and down of nicotine levels. Still they are epensive, you need to buy them at a pharmacy and they don't taste good.
Snuff tobacco is tobacco powder you "sniff" like cocaine. It is actually quite cool, it frees up your nose an it gives you a "tobacco" taste. Also there are lots of different brands, so you can play with different flavors. You'll spend much less money on snuff than on cigarettes.
Still there are two problems:
- It is difficult to manage. You always need lots of handkerchiefs around. It creates a mess.
- You may not be able to get as much nicotine as you'd like. You can only stuff that much tobacco into you nose.
The nocotine effect with snuff tobacco comes quite quickly, so I's assume it is pretty adictive.