I think at some point all smokers want to quit, but they discover they lack the will power to overcome their addiction. “Most U.S. adults call smoking “very harmful” and more than three out of four smokers want to kick the smoking habit, according to a new Gallup poll” (WebMD). As a smoker, I have quit on a whim many times before and have been unsuccessful. However, this last time I quit I was successful, and though it has only been three weeks I know I have the determination to stay smoke free.
I happened to get sick three weeks ago and as a rule i never smoke when I’m sick. First off, smoking only makes me feel more sickly as I cough and gag while choking down a cigarette and mending my runny nose and fever. Secondly, cigarettes just don’t taste the same when my sinuses are clogged and my throat is scratchy.
The third day I was sick, I decided I wasn’t going to pick the pack back up. As statistics show, I had already made it through the worst.
When I made my decision to quit for good, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy even though I had made it through the worst. I was going to need a plan of action. So, I took out a sheet of paper and wrote ten reasons I wanted to quit smoking and posted it on my fridge. My ten reasons were: save money, improve fertility, keep wrinkles at bay, improve health, smell better, improve physical and mental performance, have better sex, enjoy the taste of food and eat less, protect my loved ones from second hand smoke, and be a role model to other smokers.
Every time I wanted a cigarette my goal was to look at this list and pair it with an activity I didn’t associate with smoking. So, yet again, I pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down activities I didn’t associate with smoking. My list included: running, going for a walk, sleeping, showering, brush teeth, chew gum, eat spicy food, put together a puzzle, computer games, sit ups, push ups, etc. The list went on forever.
I became active, I accomplished so many household chores and exercise during that first week. I was desperate and would do anything to keep my mind off cigarettes. The best activity to keep my mind off smoking was putting together a puzzle. I bought a 1000 piece puzzle from Hobby Lobby and spent two days on it. It focused my attention and kept the cravings at bay.
I could run a mile, and yes, I was winded, but I took so much pride in that accomplishment. I knew that if I continued to smoke I wouldn’t be motivated to run a mile, much less be able to finish a mile. I also started lifting weights and I felt good about myself. I no longer wanted to smoke, and I didn’t feel the heartache of knowing I was never going to enjoy my a cigarette again.
Not only did I take pride in myself, but my family supported and encouraged me too (most of whom are smokers). My husband quit smoking as a result of my actions and still hasn’t smoked for two weeks now. With my energy and pride soaring and surrounded by those that supported and loved me; my cravings stopped at nine and ten days. I went both days without even thinking of a cigarette. Now, I wish I could say the rest of my days went without cravings too, but they didn’t. The littlest things will trigger a craving; cool summer mornings, catching my dog mid-poop in the basement corner, or a cold Bud Light.
Quitting smoking became much easier for me when I realized that I not only reeked of smoke, but I was seriously lacking self control and discipline. When I looked more closely at how smoking held me back from enjoying simple things like the taste of food to my character I became disgusted with the habit.
Once I realized it was my character that I needed to work on; not smoking became much easier. I became obsessed with researching the psychological effects of smoking and began to realize what a monster the tobacco companies are. Deceit oozes out of every advertising campaign they fund. Big tobacco companies have changed their marketing strategy over the past thirty years. They now only spend 10% of their marketing budget on print and outdoor advertisement; while more than half is spent on those fancy mailings you may be subscribed to (World Health Organization). I know I have received t-shirts, lighters, tin cigarette cases, and coupons in the mail from Camel. Receiving these promotional items makes it even harder to quit. I refuse to support a company who deceives and lies to their customers.
Each and every smoker has the option every day to quit smoking, and it is a personal choice. Don’t say it can’t be done, that statement is only belittling your character. I hope that you can decide to take action over your life, over your habit and quit letting your addiction control you. I wish you the best of luck and a happy, smoke-free life.