Quitting Smoking
December 19, 2003 5:55 PM   Subscribe

If you have ever smoked, what story, event or argument finally convinced you to stop?
posted by cup to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
my heart rather impolitely demanded it. no collective bargaining, just a sudden wildcat strike. got my attention.
posted by quonsar at 6:02 PM on December 19, 2003

I woke up after a long hard night of collegiate drinking with my smoking hand next to my nostrils and proceeded to gag.
posted by machaus at 6:17 PM on December 19, 2003

Response by poster: A person near and dear to me smokes.

I would like to gently persuade them to stop smoking and would be very interested to hear the personal experiences of any fellow MeFi members who were, at one time, smokers.

Thank you in advance. :)

P.S. I smoked for three years. For me, the most powerful anti-smoking message I can remember is the Yul Brynner TV commercial "Now that I'm gone, I tell you: don't smoke. Whatever you do just don't smoke...If I could take back that smoking we wouldn't be talking about any cancer. I'm convinced of that."

On preview: Wow! That was fast! Thank you quonsar and machaus. :)
posted by cup at 6:21 PM on December 19, 2003

I don't smoke, but the husbands of several of my close friends do did. For all three of them, the 'thing' that got the husbands to quit was a series of questions from their pre-school age child along the lines of "Are you going to die because you do that"? The questions were generally generated from something the child had seen on TV/heard on the Radio. None of the mothers (knowingly) prompted the children to ask the question.

I'm convinced the best non-smoking program for a loving parent is a blonde, adorable four year old girl tugging on your pantleg and saying "Daddy, don't do that. I don't want you to get sick and die."
posted by anastasiav at 6:26 PM on December 19, 2003

Go visit an anatomy lab. or...

My mom got my grandmother to quit by telling her she would never hold her grandchild until she stopped.
posted by gramcracker at 6:49 PM on December 19, 2003

My lungs have collapsed on a number of occasions, and I had a fairly gruesome operation to stop it happening again.

Still smoke.

If anyone can reccommend an event that will make me stop...
posted by jack_mo at 6:58 PM on December 19, 2003

Jack, I can hardly think of anything stronger than what you went through but, if you're single, perhaps my motivator will help a little: women (of course if you prefer men, substitute freely). I was finding that more and more women would not date me just because of the smoking, while smokers would date a non-smoker. And women are much more addictive than smoking, at least for me. This was 2.5 years ago and haven't smoked once since, though I did get married (to a non-smoker).
posted by billsaysthis at 7:05 PM on December 19, 2003

Can't say it was an event but at 48 the offer of free acupuncture treatment by my doctor (he was learning and I was his third treatment) did the trick. Had a smoke on the way to the office and haven't had one since. coming up on 5 years. His method was to do what he said was the typical treatment for heroin addiction. Went back for 2 tune ups just because it was a nice high.
posted by mss at 7:44 PM on December 19, 2003

I didn't want to have my son grow up watching me smoke. Kids are very impressionable, with fantastic memories, who often want to be just like their parents. It's my job as a responsible parent to do my best by my child, ergo no smoking. Strangely enough, it was easy, even after twelve years or more of a pack a day.

How many smokers out there have smoking parents? How many don't?
posted by ashbury at 8:11 PM on December 19, 2003

One quitter I knew visualized the stinking heap of butts that would have piled up had he continued- every day, the rank image would get slightly larger and nastier in his mind.

He also made the interesting observation that one shouldn't count on the bargain, "If the price per pack goes up one more time, then I'll really quit", as a true smoker won't really be deterred by the cost alone. Although, if you put aside all the $$ you'd save by quitting, you could probably buy yourself something nifty as a reward in no time...
posted by obloquy at 8:57 PM on December 19, 2003

I went to the mad russian in Brookline MA. I had been a hardcore smoker for many years, couldn't think of how life could be enjoyable without smoking. I heard that he had a very high success rate helping hardcore smokers quit. I went to him one day and never smoked again....it's been three or four years now. The utterly amazing thing to me is that I pretty much lost all desire to smoke, and that never happened in the many times I had quit before. Best $65 I ever spent. People come from all over the world to see him. Here's some info on him:
Celebs go "mad" to stop smoking and The Eraser
(via google) Shubentsov Yefim, (617) 232-3930, 1680 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445
Sounds a little obnoxious and wacky, I know, but it works for a lot of people.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:28 PM on December 19, 2003

Last year I stopped smoking after 20 years. The biggest factor was noticing the old folks with the portable oxygen: as well as seeing folks close to me die of lung cancer. Wellbutrin worked for me but I've had relapses. If your asking yourself whether to quit, do it. Try acupunture, Mad Russians or whatever it takes. Gasping for your last breath is a really sucky way to go.
posted by jabo at 9:39 PM on December 19, 2003

Jack, I've never been a smoker but I did have a severe habit I needed to break, though I prefer to not mention what it was. To a friend, I put forth the same request you did, above. She relayed the following story/anecdote/whatever you wanna call it.

I dismissed the story--forgot about it completely--until one night a few weeks later when I woke suddenly with it on my mind. The story seems simple enough but it literally haunted me. I credit it as being the thing that got me to change my actions. Perhaps it will help you:

Man goes to his shrink and says, "I'm an alcoholic. It's ruined my life--my family left me, I can't keep a job... I'm desperate. Doc, can you help me?"

The Doctor says, "Sure, but you have to do something for me in order for it to work." Man is ecstatic, replies, "Anything! What is it?"

Doc says, "First, stop drinking."
posted by dobbs at 10:03 PM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]

In the words of Mark Twain, quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world; I've done it a million times. For me, the physical addiction aspect only lasts a few days, a week tops. The rest is psychological and very individual. I could simplify my thought process by saying that I finally decided that I was functioning with an outdated notion of who I am and what kinds of things I do.

Here's something else, a mental trick if you will. I realized that I don't have the will power to quit smoking, but I am lazy enough to not smoke. Approach it as a passive process of not-doing rather than an active process of resisting. Seems simple, but the difference worked wonders for me.
posted by squirrel at 10:47 PM on December 19, 2003

I smoked for about ten years, until I quit a couple of years ago. I'd been on-again, off-again for a while, and my lungs were really starting to tell me that they were sick of it. One day, I found myself with a molar that needed to be extracted. The dentist said to stop smoking while it healed, but I didn't. It got infected and nasty and all kinds of badness. A few months later, I needed to have another molar extracted. This time, I didn't smoke while it healed - the vicodin helped a good deal, I think - and just never picked it back up. Feeling pretty good about it, but I still miss smoking a lot, and still smoke in my dreams on occasion, which feels really weird.
posted by majcher at 11:01 PM on December 19, 2003

I am an obsessive smoker. When I had a little more disposable income, I tried various cigarettes like a oenophile sampling merlots; at one point I had about a hundred cigarette boxes from all over the world hanging on my wall (it was much more attractive than it sounds). I love the drug, of course, but also the ritual, all of it; I haunt antique stores looking for interesting old lighters and spend hours nursing them back to life. I like the smell of Ronsonol and flint and the way the tip of the cigarette will sometimes flair up when it's first lit, the curl of smoke, the feel of really good filter paper between my fingers. I've smoked everything from dirt-cheap locally-made cigarettes that taste like cow dung to $20-a-pack Treasurers rolled in watermarked papers to Russian papirosi, and enjoyed all of them. I love the sweet smell of good Virginia bright and the patterns a lone cigarette makes in the night.

What could make me give that up? I have no idea.

All non-smokers who want to understand the habit should read Why Do We Smoke Cigarettes?, an excellent psychological analysis of the popularity of smoking.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:17 PM on December 19, 2003

if its that easy dobbs , why dont you start again ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:16 AM on December 20, 2003

If anyone can reccommend an event that will make me stop...

Read this book and you will stop smoking. It's atrociously written by a completely silly old git but it, amazingly, works.

Like Ishmael, I was convinced I could never give up because I enjoyed so much. I read the book and was stunned to realized that smoking truly isn't enjoyable at all.

Fifteen years unrepentant hardcore smoker and now I'm just relieved and happy to know I'll never smoke again.

Buy yourself the book for Xmas.
posted by dydecker at 12:37 AM on December 20, 2003

A friend of mine suggests that, when quitting, flipping a coin should help. First off, it reduces your smoking by half. Secondly, the cigarette is no longer the focal reward of "not smoking": the coin flip is, and it's not a sure thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:40 AM on December 20, 2003

i started smoking when i was 14 and quit the winter i was 24. i developed a most brutal case of bronchitis wherein i bruised my ribcage from the inside out due to the coughing. my doctor said it was my own fault - being that i was smoking 2 to 3 packs a day of unfiltered camels - and that i would suffer bronchitis for the rest of my life. nothing gives me more will power than to be told i can't do or change something so i quit cold turkey right there on the spot and haven't had a smoke or bronchitis since. the first year not smoking i would often really "need" a smoke before auditions or if i was having a fight with someone close to me, but i had a great roommate who would talk me thru' it, either in person or on the phone.

so i recommend getting belligerent - who are you kidding jack_mo, you'll never be able to quit. oh yah, well screw you tracy i can so! - and recruiting a friend to act like a 12 step type sponsor, who'll talk you thru' bad craving moments.
posted by t r a c y at 2:28 AM on December 20, 2003

I stopped smoking a lot of times because of the usual reasons: health, filth, a nonsmoking woman, a nonsmoking office. It always lasted for a few nmonths, and then I started up again. I finally stopped for good when I realized just how much I was a slave to it, and the ridiculous things I was ready to do to get a cigarrette. Self-respect is stronger than willpower.

I can wholeheartedly second dydecker's recommendation of Allen Carr's book. His writing makes him come off like a carnival huckster, but his approach really works, because it forces you to focus on why you think you want to smoke so badly, not on silly tricks and games.
posted by fuzz at 3:27 AM on December 20, 2003

"If the price per pack goes up one more time, then I'll really quit", as a true smoker won't really be deterred by the cost alone.

My father used to smoke 20-30 a day and had for 15-20 years. I remember him walking in one budget day to be told how much they had put on a pack of 20 and him saying "Right, that's it". He finished the pack he had and has never smoked since.
posted by biffa at 3:39 AM on December 20, 2003

I quit smoking after ten years on the day i met my girlfriend. I literally didn't notice the craving because i was so bowled over by her and she didn't smoke.

We spent a week together in London and when she left to go home , i realised that i hadn't missed smoking when i was with her. So, i decided to stay a non smoker and that's how i stayed.

I guess for me, it was all about subsituting one addiction for another, more powerful one.
posted by triv at 4:39 AM on December 20, 2003

dydecker, I read that book and I still smoke 30 a day. The thing that would help me to quit would be if they could get on top of tobacco smuggling into the UK. I couldn't afford to smoke at UK prices, but when you can just go down to the local and pick up smuggled baccy at less than half the price, the cost disincentive becomes useless.
posted by squealy at 5:11 AM on December 20, 2003

Squealy, when smoking was banned in some US prisons, inmates started paying $100 a pack. I've heard stories of inmates scraping up the chewing tobacco other prisoners have spat out, rolling it up and smoking it.

Here in Japan, cigs are US$1.40 a pack and there is a vending machine on every corner. But plenty of people manage not to smoke.

My point is that price has nothing to do with addiction.
posted by dydecker at 6:57 AM on December 20, 2003

I applaud your good intentions, cup, but one thing I would say is that for some smokers (not all, clearly) external pressure to quit is counterproductive--it can set up a kind of resistance cycle, where the smoking (paradoxically) gets framed, not as an addiction, but a way of maintaining control and autonomy. The "You can't make me!" four-year-old is still very alive in some of us.

I'm gearing up for another episode of quitting, and will go with what's worked for me in the past: (a) Wellbutrin, which really short-circuits the physical addiction/craving side; and (b) self-hypnosis, which is the best way I've found to short-circuit the mental side (the resistance to change, compulsivity, habit pattern stuff). This site, albeit cheesy-looking, provides some good info on self-hypnosis without forcing you to buy the products to access it. What's key about the s-h part, for me, is it gets me to stop fighting willpower battles with myself (which I always lose), and instead allows me to get some distance and view the "do I have a cigarette at this particular moment, or not?" question in a relaxed way as a matter of free choice, rather than in the context of compulsion/guilt/resistance.
posted by Kat Allison at 7:12 AM on December 20, 2003

I second (actually third) the recommendation for Allen Carr's methods. I read his Easy Way to Stop Smoking three times through, and after several attempts to stop now feel that I've cracked it. It's early days still (2 months) but I think Carr has been successful in getting me to change my mindset about smoking - I've "erased the brainwashing" as he puts it. His site is at www.allencarrseasyway.com.

Another useful resource is stop-tabac.ch but I don't agree with their suggestion to use nicotine replacement therapy - I think this just postpones the process of conquering your drug addiction.
posted by cbrody at 8:21 AM on December 20, 2003

I was chaperoning a youth group trip to Boston. I happened to mention to another chaperon in the kids' earshot that I felt terrible about smoking, having to hide away from the kids to do it. Lil Emily, maybe 13, comes up and says "Why the hell do you do it then?" "I dunno," I said, and placed in her outstreched hands my pack of cigarettes. She flushed them down the toilet of the dorm we were occupying at Boston University. That was about it.
posted by moonbird at 9:44 AM on December 20, 2003

sgt.serenity: of its that easy dobbs , why dont you start again ?

I didn't say it was easy. Quitting my habit was the hardest thing I've ever done. My story is no diff from anyone else who put their foot down and made a conscious decision to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop making excuses. The trigger was just different.
posted by dobbs at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2003

there is also a free 8-week web-based cessation study at stopsmoking.ucsf.edu you might be interested in trying. Good luck.
posted by obloquy at 1:43 PM on December 20, 2003

I quit smoking 15 years ago after smoking for 18 yrs. - just couldn't stand the smell anymore - got headaches, etc. My husband quit about 3 mos. ago after smoking for 44 yrs. and he says several things contributed to his ability to do so. Top reason: he was a "social pariah" (his words) when he smoked - no one wanted to be near him and I would find any excuse not to ride in the car with him. Other factors - hubby would notice that he could feel his feet in the morning, go out to smoke his 1st cig on the porch and his feet would go numb. In September, a dear friend of ours who smoked and drank heavily died at age 56 - massive coronary and sadly, he was gone.
posted by Lynsey at 1:45 PM on December 20, 2003

Kids are the best reason to give up - Not only because of the fact that it shortens your own life and they need you, but kids like to be the same as their parents and, no matter how much information they see about how bad it is, they will copy you. As far as methods, the nicotine patches work very well at satisfying the physical craving (plus you get amazing dreams) and keeping busy with activities you would not normally associate with smoking for the first couple of weeks helps with the mental side.
posted by dg at 2:40 PM on December 20, 2003

No story or argument convinced me to stop. When I was ready to quit, I quit. Nobody's going to argue a smoker into quitting.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:08 PM on December 20, 2003

I took this treatment almost a year ago after having been a smoker for ten years and I have not had a single one since.

Now I have no desire to smoke, even when I drink, and I've only had one dream wherein I was smoking.

It was the strangest thing — the day after the treatment, smoking was something that other people did.

The treatment consists of large, weight-measured doses of atropine and scopolamine, injected into your neck and hip.

Then, you're given a scrip for patches and pills which contain the same ingredients (Transderm SCOP and Belladonna pills in my case), which you take for two weeks.
posted by tomierna at 5:05 PM on December 20, 2003

Response by poster: Thank you all for sharing your stories and suggestions!

There are a lot more methods for quitting smoking than I was aware of and I guess that alone is proves how hard it is to quit (and how hard it will be to try and persuade someone else to quit).

Also, thank you IshmaelGraves for your link on Why Do We Smoke Cigarettes - very interesting reading.

Thank you!
posted by cup at 5:30 PM on December 21, 2003

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