How can I WANT to quit smoking?
June 23, 2005 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I know that I should quit smoking but I don't really want to. The thing is, I want to want to quit. Does anyone know of something that might make me really, really want to give up cigarettes?

I know people who've died from lung cancer, I've been to oncology wards, I've read lots of stats on what fags can do, but I never really feel any guilt when I light up. Is there any way to invoke the feeling of wanting to quit?
posted by bunglin jones to Law & Government (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Uh... that was meant to go to Health, not law and government
posted by bunglin jones at 8:35 PM on June 23, 2005

Of course you want to quit. You're just scared it's going to be painful. Ask yourself: would it be okay if your 12-year-old daughter started smoking?
posted by dydecker at 8:40 PM on June 23, 2005

The thing is, I want to want to quit.

For what reason do you want to want to quit? Just for kicks? I doubt it. I think your motivation for wanting to want to quit may lead you in the right direction.
posted by 4easypayments at 8:41 PM on June 23, 2005

Smoker sperm tastes horrid. Think of a life without blowjobs.
posted by hamster at 8:43 PM on June 23, 2005

As a smoker (for medical reasons. Seriously):

Those fucking things are going to give you lung cancer. You will die. It will not be pretty.

I can give you pictures if you want.

It only takes 3 days. Schedule it, and deal with it. You'll thank yourself later.
posted by bh at 8:46 PM on June 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

you stink.
posted by raaka at 8:46 PM on June 23, 2005

Take a large sum of money -- large enough to hurt -- and take it to a lawyer with instructions to put it in escrow and return it to you only when you can produce a note from your physician confirming changes in your health consistent with having stopped smoking.
posted by bac at 8:49 PM on June 23, 2005

Bupropion (trade names Zyban and Wellbutrin) worked for me. It didn't make me really want to quit, it just took away any desire to smoke. After I stopped, effortlessly, it was months before I realized with a start that I not only hadn't smoked, even at parties, but that it hadn't even occurred to me to smoke.

I know that's not exactly what you're asking, but the effect is the same. It doesn't work for everyone, though. (In my experience, people who've done a lot of ecstasy and/or coke have a bad reaction to it. But my sample is very not-scientific.)
posted by Maudie at 9:01 PM on June 23, 2005

i smoked a pack or more for 10 years. 4 years ago i just one day decided enough was enough. then i was a total dick for 3 days. then it got better each day.

that doesn't help you, sorry. my transformation was sudden and random and weird like that. let's just say you're on the right path by wanting to want to quit.
posted by glenwood at 9:05 PM on June 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

There is no way you will do it if you dont really want to. Planning all this shit to quit is not going to help make it easier. The best way to quit is to do it out of the blue, without pre-warning.

I found out my blood pressure was 160/120 and I asked jy doctor if quitting smoking would help. He said definately yes, so I crushed my half pack of smokes and asked him to throw them away for me. Not one since, and I go to parties and drink with them right in front of my face and I don't give a damn.
posted by Dean Keaton at 9:18 PM on June 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

hot chicks don't dig smokers
posted by patrickje at 9:19 PM on June 23, 2005

Do you have a kid? A spouse? Even a dog or a cat? Your smoke isn't just affecting you, it's affecting them. You're poisoning their lungs, too. You're giving your kid allergies and predisposing him or her to cancer, and you're making your kid more likely to take up smoking himself or herself. You might look at the pictures of the cancer-ridden lungs and think "Everybody's gotta go sometime" when considering the possibility of you getting 'em, but what about your loved ones? Are you OK with turning their lungs into bubbled slug rot?

And even if you're incredibly careful about who you smoke around, even if they aren't cancerfied, they still have to go through the long and torturous process of your slow, painful, premature death.
posted by schroedinger at 9:19 PM on June 23, 2005

bh's idea is similar to mine: When I wanted to lose weight, the diet book I bought went into pretty graphic detail as to what the extra weight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar did to my body. After reading about it fairly dispassionately, I was ready to put an end to that shit. Not sure where you can get similar info on smoking but I'm sure it's available.
posted by Doohickie at 9:23 PM on June 23, 2005

The book Barb's Miracle tells the story of an Edmonton model who's diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 41 after smoking for thirty years. She decides to spend her remaining time trying to convince others - mostly school kids - to quit.

I expected this book to be a "wasn't she a saint?" gloss-over when I picked it up but it turned out to be alternately hard-hitting and touching. This is mainly because nothing was off-limits to the reporter and photographer who came on board her "team" after she began her publlic crusade against smoking and they write about the bad things that happen as well as the good (she continued to smoke even as she lectured kids not to, some accused her of neglecting her family, etc.)

I'm a non-smoker myself but can't imagine how the words and pictures in this book couldn't help convince you to quit, especially if you have a spouse/children (as Barb did.)
posted by Jaybo at 9:26 PM on June 23, 2005

I imagined my children sitting at the side of my hospital bed, unable to kiss them because of the ventilator tube down my throat. My little girl asking me, "Why, Daddy, why?"

Whenever I wanted one again, I thought of her quavering "Why?"

Bottom line: you can quit any time you REALLY WANT TO. Picking up a cigarette again is just admitting your reason wasn't strong enough.

All the "harder than heroin" talk is just bullshit. Decide on something powerful enough to live for, make it your totem, tie it around your neck so it can be there to finger when you feel weak.

A month later you might feel slightly bemused that you ever thought it was so hard.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:29 PM on June 23, 2005

Some years back there was this Canadian PSA that was in heavy rotation during Simpsons reruns. Basically, you saw a chunk of artery--maybe five inches or so--sitting on a table. Then a pair of hands wearing long black rubber gloves picked it up and squeezed out a good tablespoon or three of nasty, chunky, yellowish goo. That, we were told in voiceover, was the amount of crap coating the insides of a 33-year-old smoker (who had died in a motorcycle accident or something).

It was as effective as it was disgusting, and it was incredibly fucking disgusting. Unfortunately I have had no luck finding a copy of it, or even a reference to it, on the web.
posted by Vervain at 9:40 PM on June 23, 2005

Bottom line: you can quit any time you REALLY WANT TO. Picking up a cigarette again is just admitting your reason wasn't strong enough.

That's just the thing... at the moment I'm waiting for that reason to arrive. The only loved one who's around when I smoke is my girlfriend, who also smokes, and I guess I care about her lungs as much as she does. I think a lot of the "you need to really want to" responses here are right, and I'm still interested not so much in how others quit, but if there was one, big moment or thing which inspired their butting out forever.
posted by bunglin jones at 9:46 PM on June 23, 2005

I know that I should quit smoking but I don't really want to. The thing is, I want to want to quit.

If you go into it with this conflicted attitude it's not gonna happen.

Decide one day that you've quit smoking. Try using the patch, that helped me for a little bit, but the only thing that really worked was just reminding myself that I'd taken the decision.
posted by clevershark at 9:53 PM on June 23, 2005

I remember going to family gatherings and seeing my uncle with an oxygen bottle. He had been a tank commander under Patton. I remember my mother saying how athletic he had been and how he had been able to do standing backflips when younger.
I also remember my mother caring for my grandfather as he lay dying of cancer. He basically moved in with us to die, not noticeable sick when he came, but within months, totally bedridden. This was the 70's and we were dirt poor, so my mother did everything, it must have been horrible.
posted by 445supermag at 10:18 PM on June 23, 2005

My mom quit because it was giving her wrinkles a lot faster and made her skin and teeth look like shit.

My dad quit because it left him less money for weed.

It's hard to subconciously buy the health things in a certain stage of your life, but the vanity things, the inconvenience things, are affecting you now and if you focus on those, it might help. What's it getting in the way of?

Guilt feelings might actually keep you smoking on a certain level. What part of smoking just pisses you off?
posted by Gucky at 10:23 PM on June 23, 2005

as raaka so eloquently put it:
"you stink."
posted by raaka at 8:46 PM PST on June 23

Until you get the odor out of your hair, off your clothes and car and furniture, you have no idea how bad you smell.

Why wait until you have to step out of the shower to gulp a breath of dryer air? Does your mom have to take charge?
posted by Cranberry at 10:24 PM on June 23, 2005

Aieee. Seriously? You've just nailed the precise way I can tell people who manage to quit from people who don't. The ones that manage it are those who actually don't want to smoke cigarettes anymore. Oh, they might crave it. But they honest to god don't want to smoke. Those that do want it, but feel they shouldn't, never make it IMHO. Now, that's not to say that you can't. At some point, maybe you won't want to, either. But right now you do, and no patch, nagging girlfriend, exercise or diet regimen will change that. Hypnosis might (if you handle the chemical craving alongside) but it's far from a sure thing.

Sorry about that.
posted by dreamsign at 10:28 PM on June 23, 2005


It's what's helping me at the moment.

You don't need a good reason to quit, you need a reason never to start again - and for me, that's my pride. Lose to a drug? No way.
posted by Skyanth at 10:34 PM on June 23, 2005

Erectile dysfunction. Is that a good one? Your penis will become Mr. Sad instead of Mr. Happy.

Plus you'll tire more easily, so even when Mr. Sad has his good days you won't be able to enjoy it as long.
posted by schroedinger at 10:37 PM on June 23, 2005

a smoker's lung. cheers!

more goodies here:
posted by ori at 10:41 PM on June 23, 2005

Fifteen years ago my father had a massive heart attack on his way to work. The next day I sat in a hospital waiting room as he underwent a quadruple bypass. Thirty years of smoking had damaged his heart.

Five years later I watched my grandmother labor for breath, calling for her dead husband as she slowly, painfully slipped away from us, emphysema strangling her to death. She smoked for over fifty years. If she had quit when she had the chance she might still be here with us today.

Three years after that my father had a second heart attack. He was lucky to survive it. The doctor told him that if he didn't quit smoking he'd probably be dead in ten years. That was seven years ago.

Last month I found myself in another hospital waiting room as the doctors worked to empty my father of the fluid that had collected in his lungs. The cause? Congestive heart failure brought on mostly by smoking. He had to have a defibrillator implanted. You know, just in case his heart suddenly stops.

He's still smoking, by the way. And every time my phone rings I fear that it's going to be my stepmother telling me that he's dead. I love him. And I hate what he's doing to himself. Do you want to put your family through that? Do they deserve that?

Look, I'm not trying to be a nag or guilt trip you or anything, but if you really, sincerely want a reason to quit just realize that it affects the people around you just as much as it affects you. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones. And if you don't really want to quit then don't. We're all self destructive in our own ways. Just remember that, most likely, it WILL catch up to you one day.

And lest you think that I'm some sort of smug anti smoker: my "big moment" came when I left my father's hospital room during the congestive heart failure episode to have a fucking cigarette. I just recently quit.
posted by LeeJay at 10:41 PM on June 23, 2005

As a smoker, you stink, I mean *really* smell awful -- and most non-smokers will think you're an arsehole every time you light up near them or even within 100m upwind.
posted by krisjohn at 12:20 AM on June 24, 2005

It's just a stupid thing to do. You're smarter than that. You're better than that.

Imagine if you knew a guy who, every once and a while when the mood struck him, hit himself in the head smacks himself really hard. According to him, he knows it causes brain damage, but it also really relaxes him and makes him feel 'loose.' Ok, he's not crazy, but you would think the guy's a total idiot.

Think of your best self. The self people will remember when you're dead. Is he the kind of person who values his money and health so little that he intentionally throws it away, a pack at a time? Whose clothes smell like cigarettes?

You may think of smoking like just another bad habit e.g. biting your fingernails. It's not. Try grasping this fully, and maybe the old potent mixture of shame and hope will keep you inline.
posted by nixerman at 12:38 AM on June 24, 2005

My father couldn't come to my wedding because he was too busy being dead from emphysema.
posted by planetkyoto at 1:01 AM on June 24, 2005

I know some of you are trying to help with the 'scary' pictures and the health stories, but they rarely work. nixerman's post is particularly pathetic.

I continued to smoke for two years after my quadruple bypass. Why did I finally quit? One day I counted the shirts in my closet with pinhole burns. Many of the other former smokers I know report similar 'stupid' reasons that pushed them over.

bunglin, if you can't work up the self-motivation to quit, you will probably struggle with your addiction as well until the day some stupid reason hits you between the eyes.
posted by mischief at 4:15 AM on June 24, 2005

You can't make yourself want to want to quit. You either want to quit or you don't.
posted by xyzzy at 5:07 AM on June 24, 2005

I set a date - I said that by the time I turned 25 I didn't want to smoke anymore - Sometime in my 24th year I got sick with some sort of awful flu - I took that opportunity to just throw my smokes away - I haven't had one in 4 years. I think it was just arbitrarily deciding long in advance that kind of prepared me for it - I got to mull over the pros and cons of smoking and in my own time came to the obvious conclusion that it made absolutely no sense to choose to remain addicted to something as bad (and expensive) as cigarettes. Having the flu made it tough to smoke at all anyway, so I just quit (which really pissed off my SO who was still a smoker at the time. Though, she quit shortly thereafter and is quite happy for it now.)
posted by soplerfo at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2005

Some years back there was this Canadian PSA that was in heavy rotation during Simpsons reruns. Basically, you saw a chunk of artery--maybe five inches or so--sitting on a table. Then a pair of hands wearing long black rubber gloves picked it up and squeezed out a good tablespoon or three of nasty, chunky, yellowish goo. That, we were told in voiceover, was the amount of crap coating the insides of a 33-year-old smoker (who had died in a motorcycle accident or something).

And immediately the smoker in me thnks: "Well, smoking didn't kill him."

It's not my post, but thanks for the answers. I also want to want to quit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:47 AM on June 24, 2005

If you quit for three months I'll give you a dollar. I mean it.

posted by bondcliff at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2005

See if you can arrange to spend some time at the hospital with someone receiving treatment for lung cancer and then spend some time with their family to see how much havoc it can wreak. Having seen people with cancer, this would make me want to quit.
posted by battlecj at 9:55 AM on June 24, 2005

Maybe you need to look at both sides of the equation.
Write a list of all the reasons you want to quit, then write a list of all the reasons you smoke.
The reasons to quit should be pretty easy, but the reasons you smoke can be more tricky. Try to be honest.
Revisit the lists periodically and see what you can do about strengthening the first and weakening the second.
posted by yetanother at 9:56 AM on June 24, 2005

'Wanting to want to quit' and 'wanting to quit' sound like the same thing to me.

The only difference I guess is that as long as someone insists they only 'want to want to', then they have a pretty good excuse for not doing it.

Most ex-smokers I know quit because they knew it was really bad for them combined with it becoming inconvenient to smoke socially. I don't know anyone personally who had one clear moment or reason that made them quit, and most were immune to people trying to scare or guilt trip them. They all struggled and gradually quit over time, with starts and stops here and there.
posted by frenetic at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2005

Bunglin, I think you should question what the real difference is between "want to want to" and "want to" and make sure there really is one. To me that reads more like "want to enough to do something" or "want to enough to suffer the discomfort."

Maybe for you it's going to be more a matter of "why do I want to continue to smoke?" I knew someone whose motivation was taking the aprox $1500 a year she spent on cigs and going on vacation somewhere she'd always wanted to go. She said something along the lines of "once I thought about that pack a day as something keeping me from spending that money elsewhere it was really easy to feel like it was worth it."

Maybe for you it'll be more along the lines of "am I getting $150 worth of pleasure out of this every month?" Everything is a tradeoff. Decide if the joy you get from cigs is as great as the downsides.
posted by phearlez at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2005

Yeah, one fo the worst things about hanging around smokers is the stench. You may think you don't smell, but really, guy, you smell, your apartment smells, your car smells. Non-smokers are just being polite.
posted by bonehead at 10:27 AM on June 24, 2005

I'm in the same boat with my weight and I can assure you that 'wanting to' and 'wanting to want to' are not the same thing. I have no visceral feeling about my weight, merely an intellectual awareness that's about as intense as the statistics about traffic accidents. Basically, I enjoy food and I dislike exercise. I was hoping someone would say something that I could steal for my own life.
The essential question is, just what is it about getting sweaty and wheezy that is more interesting than TV?
I haven't seen an answer to the equivalent question for a smoker. People have pointed out why smoking is bad but those facts are neither obscure nor controversial.
posted by Octaviuz at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2005

Try to quit even though you don't want to. Most people try several times. One of those times will stick. For me, it was my fifth or sixth.
posted by peep at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Part of what made me finally quit was the thought that I was basically owned by tobacco companies. I mean wtf? That pissed me off, all that money that I HAD to spend, driving to a store in the middle of the night, getting all panicked if I had to be in a non-smoking atmosphere for too long. It all got to me, I said screw this, the only person/thing who deserves this much power over my life is ME and I never smoked again.
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:55 AM on June 24, 2005

I just re-quit recently

I imagine a bunch of asshole tobacco executives sitting around and snickering that they're getting rich because they reeled me in with advertising when I was too young to know better and now I'm hooked.
posted by superkim at 12:36 PM on June 24, 2005

I found extremely useful in motivating me to quit a 10 yr +, 1 pack a day + habit.

superkim and yodelingisfun make me wonder if those “Truth” commercials had an effect. They're certainly slick agitprop.
posted by evariste at 4:02 PM on June 24, 2005

Someone who "wants to WANT to quit" is someone who enjoys smoking and is letting other people "guilt" him into thinking that unless he quits he is less of a person, or psycho-stupid, or has a death wish, or such.

Look: smoking can be bad. Smoking can kill. But smoking does not ALWAYS kill. It doesn't even MOST ALWAYS kill. For some people, it's a form of self-medication. For others, it's a social thing. Other people enjoy the taste and the sensation (hard as it is for non-smokers to understand).

It all comes down to something of a gamble: am I getting enough true pleasure and enjoyment from smoking to outweigh the possible negative effects, which may include sickness and death? You have to make that call; don't let others do it for you, because if you try to quit based on other people trying to "guilt" you into it, then you are likely not going to be successful at quitting.

You have to know your reasons -- on both sides of the equation.
posted by davidmsc at 7:44 PM on June 24, 2005

Eat a cigarette. Unroll it, sniffing it, really get into the sensory experience of eating it.

After you puke it back up an hour later, you'll probably not want to be around a cigarette for a while.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:13 PM on June 24, 2005

There's a big difference in wanting to quit and wanting to want to quit. I also want to want to quit, but the health issues have never been enough to really convince me to do it.

What has almost made me really want to quit is something several people have addressed here, and that is the smell, especially the bad breath, which you don't always notice but other people do. All the Tic-Tacs in the world won't make your breath stop smelling like smoke, which can make it very uncomfortable for other people to talk with you face to face. Also, yellowing teeth are not very appealing.

For that reason alone I decided to quit before I turn 30 (in *just* 10 months) after smoking since I was 13.

Well, actually there is another reason for wanting to quit: In the long run, it's a very expensive habit to keep.

I hope you find a good enough reason to quit soon.
posted by Penks at 3:57 AM on June 25, 2005

Find someone with lung cancer and watch them die.
posted by trii at 2:25 PM on June 25, 2005

Calculate how much money you will save by quitting.

Won't it be nice to get the stains out of the skin on your "smoking hand" and teeth?

Fall in love with a non-smoker.
posted by whatnot at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2005

I started smoking when I was 14. And I love it. LOVE. IT. But, of course, I don't really LOVE the idea of dying a slow painful death (not to mention all the hatin' on the smokers). So I've tried to quit. Several times.

I thought I had succeeded 15 years ago. After six days of pure hell and hellishness, I was off smokes for a year. Then I ended my only long-term relationship, and the stress was too much.

Last year I did the bupropion bit. Quit on schedule after three weeks on the pill, in July, then completed the course of treatment. Again thought I had pretty much kicked it, but I've been back on since December.

It's hard when you don't really want to quit. Maybe impossible. If you find out what makes you want to want to quit, let me know.

And good luck!

FWIW: My mother died of lung cancer at age 58. Never smoked a cigarette (or anything else) in her life.
posted by trip and a half at 5:05 PM on July 10, 2005

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