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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

The smoker’s guide to quitting smoking

Jan 06, 2019 01:07AM ● By Jan Weeks

I smoked my first cigarette when I was 18. By the time I was 19 I was hooked. My habit soared from one pack a day to, at one point, seven. Even when I consciously watched my smoking, I averaged four packs a day.

Quitting was easy—it was not starting up again the next day that was hard. Many times I tossed a half-smoked pack away, swearing I was through forever. An hour later I was dropping quarters into the nearest cigarette machine. My life revolved around smoking: I lit up before I got out of bed; my last bedtime ritual was smoking a final cigarette; and in between, I measured time in how many cigarettes it took me to go to the store, drive to work and suck down during a 15-minute break.

But on October 30, 1978, I smoked my last cigarette. I’ve been clean for more than 40 years now, and boy, does it feel great.

Are you ready to quit? Here’s how you can do it.

You must really want to quit. “I should” isn’t a good motivator. I spent more than 10 years “shoulding” myself, feeling guilty every time my willpower failed. When I went on a road trip, I stocked the car with several cartons. Obviously I didn’t want to quit.

Use whatever aid will help you reach your goal. I used a set of filters that gradually reduced the tar and nicotine I was inhaling, but you can use gum, candy, patches or whatever other support you need.

Don’t be tempted to quit before you reach your target. On September 30, 1978, I gave myself 30 more days to smoke. By mid-October I’d decreased my consumption by over half.

“This is great,” I thought. “I’ll just quit now.”

But deep inside, a part of me whispered, “Don’t stop now or you’ll always feel like you were cheated, and someday you’ll smoke the cigarettes that you didn’t smoke now.”

Enlist the help of family and friends. If your spouse smokes, encourage him or her to stop, too. You can quit on your own, too, using online support groups or other networks.

Cut back on your consumption. This helps even if it’s only by a couple cigarettes a day. I put my cigarettes in the kitchen cupboard instead of next to my chair. Whenever autopilot took over, I stopped and waited for a few minutes before I went to get them.

Exercise. A gentle walk gets your body used to the fact that a change for the better is coming. Whenever you feel the urge to light up, take a few deep breaths. I walked more than a few miles around the block during that last month, promising myself I’d indulge once I got home.

Bargain with yourself. Tell yourself you can have a smoke after cleaning the bathroom, mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, etc.

Do the things you did before you smoked. Knit a scarf, model with clay, buy a yo-yo. Keep your hands busy and your mind occupied with something other than thoughts of smoking.

Drink lots of water. Flushing the nicotine out of your system makes withdrawal less painful. Coffee and tea have the opposite effect, so avoid them if you can.

Stick to your commitment. You can make your life better. It’s up to you.

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