I see no point in nagging smokers to give up. It never worked for me – it used to irritate me and it would increase my determination to keep smoking. Some of my best friends are smokers – I enjoy their company and will continue to whether they smoke or not. I would prefer them not to because I would like them to live a long and healthy life. But I know that giving up is a decision that only the smoker can make. No-one can do it for them.
I have been asked to explain how and why I went from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to zero overnight. So first let’s go back to the beginning
I hate to admit this but I had my first cigarette when I was 12. It was given to me by the older brother of one of my best friends. We all thought we were so sophisticated – and even though the cigarettes made us feel sick we persevered until we got used to it. Incredible really!
My parents didn’t smoke in fact my mother was horrified when she found out. But I was determined to be a rebel – and in spite of the rows it caused at home and at school I carried on. It was probably the idea of being a rebel that attracted me more than anything else.
When I began working as a newspaper journalist all of my colleagues in the newsroom smoked. It was part of the culture. We used the excuse that we were in a stressful environment.
But being a smoker causes all sorts of stresses of its own. Where are my cigarettes? Have I got enough cigarettes to get me through the evening/the day/the next hour? If I go out will I be allowed to smoke? Have I got enough money on me for a packet? Will my partner find out I’ve been smoking? The list goes on and on– and the non-smoker never has to experience any of those stressful moments.
When I was in my 20s I cared for both of my parents in their long battles against cancer. It was so unfair for them. Neither of them smoked. They had done nothing in their lives to deserve such a fate. And unbelievably even though I saw how painful and difficult their illnesses were I still carried on smoking. Again I told myself it was helping me through a stressful time.
I finally gave up when
I felt I was woefully lacking in personal willpower – and felt it was a battle I could never win. These are the things that helped.
• Name a day and stick to it.
• I took one day at a time.
• I gave up with two colleagues
• I had to steer clear of people who smoked
• I cut down my alcohol intake in case it weakened my resolve.
• I cleaned my teeth a lot – smoking isn’t so appealing then.
• I avoided the pub/parties where I knew people would be smoking.
• Change your routine – I went to the cinema a lot in the first month.
• At the end of the first month treat yourself to a luxury with the money you’ve saved – a massage, a trip to the hairdressers, a meal out whatever does it for you.
• I didn’t take cash to work with me
• I would eat a piece of fruit or chew gum (a dreadful habit of its own but I could give that up later).
• Take more exercise – a good walk along a beach or a run through a park anything.
• Make sure notice how much better you feel.
As I said it’s not my business to nag anyone to give up smoking. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself. If you are giving up - the very best of luck with it. If I can do it anyone can.
I haven’t had a cigarette for 10 years now– and I have proved to myself that I have more willpower than I thought. That’s a good feeling.
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