5 ways I tried (and failed) to kick the cancer stick
January 31st, 2012
01:53 PM ET

5 ways I tried (and failed) to kick the cancer stick

Editor's Note: Rick Morris is one of 7 CNN viewers selected to be part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Each participant receives all of the gear and training necessary to compete in a triathlon, and will finish his or her journey at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September.  Rick's biggest challenge, he says, is kicking "the cancer stick."

Two o'clock in the morning.  A couple bottles of my strong pale ale Belgium style home brew.  Got the '80s rocking on Sirius Radio.  What better time to write about my smoking cessation progress?

Perhaps it's a corny way to start a blog, but I don't care.  I'm in the mood for reflecting on the “good ol' days” when I was a non-smoker.   You know, the younger years... the energetic era.  Those were the days when responsibilities were minimal and my poison was nothing more than sweets.

Sure, I had to do my homework, mow the grass and clean my room.  But, generally speaking, I didn't have the slightest concern for personal health.  I was cut like a knife – all 126 pounds, a member of the great Pisgah High School wrestling team, and didn't think twice about running 2 miles to the store for a pack of gob-stoppers and various “junk food."

I could bench press twice my body weight, run full-court b-ball at the Canton, North Carolina, YMCA all day long, and still have enough energy left to make some football card money by hunting nightcrawlers (worms) until the wee hours in the morning. If you ever wondered where your fishing bait comes from, it arrives via “head-lamp-wearing” teenage fools like me.

But for some reason, I ruined my pristine health when I was 29 years old by choosing to “be cool” with my motorcycle friends and lighting up.  I mean, what's one lousy cigarette going to do?  I'm still young.  I have self-control.  I can smoke only when I'm around the biker boys.  Right!  It was only a matter of days before I rationalized buying a pack so I wouldn't have to bum off my friends.  Pretty soon, I was smoking a pack a day.

Since 1998, the cigarette has had an iron-clad grip on my soul.  I couldn't eat a meal without “rewarding” myself with a nice after-dinner toke.  I couldn't hang out with the guys, enjoy a football game, or even drive without a smoke.

I started thinking about quitting perhaps five years into the habit.  It seemed everywhere I turned, people were telling me how unhealthy smoking had become – as if it wasn't unhealthy in the past and only recently became dangerous!

I noticed the social changes, too.  Airlines quit asking if I wanted smoking or non-smoking.  Restaurants, where there were smoking and non-smoking sections, soon became entirely smoke-free.  Prices went from $1 a pack to $5 a pack within a few years.  Even tobacco companies were publishing campaigns on smoking cessation.

So, I thought, I'll give it a whirl... I'll stop smoking.  How hard can it be?

I started with the patch.  You know, a trans-dermal method for injecting just the nicotine and “not all the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes."  I dealt with the vivid dreams and headaches and was able to stay smoke-free for a couple months.

But at the first sign of stress I was back at it.  The trigger?  Nothing more than a friend who lit up in front of me.  “Hey, can I get one of those?” I asked.  That one cigarette was all it took.  Within a week I was back up to a pack a day.

Next, I thought I'd try it “cold turkey."  That was a complete waste of time.  I think I made it through 2 days before I wanted to squeeze someone's neck.  It didn't matter to me... wife, son, daughter, friend, pet... any neck would do!

How about some tasty nicotine gum?  Sure, if you like freshly-cut rubber from a gum tree with a delightful feet-juice additive, then this is probably the best route a smoker can take towards their smoke-free life.  That idea lasted about two pieces of gum.

After another year of feeling like I was breathing through a box of grits, my new quitting scheme became a calculated science.  I opened up Microsoft Word and looked at the calendar for a stop date.  1 month from today.  If I smoke 16 today, and hold myself accountable for those 16 cigarettes, I can smoke 15 tomorrow.  My plan had me outlining what I call the “draw-down."

I mean, hey, if I built up my physical dependence on this crap, then I can forgo all the gimmicks of gum and patches and cleanse my body the natural way.

This, I rationalized, would reduce my daily dependence and I would be able to call it quits at the end of the month.  So, I created a chart.  Day 1: 16 smokes.  Day 2: 15 smokes.  Day 3: 14 smokes.

I calculated the exact time  I would smoke based on the day's allowance, divided by the number of “awake” hours I had in my typical day (for some reason, I had no trouble being smoke-free while I was asleep!).  This actually worked for me.  I would place my initials on one of the allowable spaces each time I had a smoke.  I finally had commitment.  I had viewable control.  I drew down and kicked the habit.  For 4 months.  Then, I relapsed.  I don't recall why, but I did.

So, I continued moving right along with my happy self.  Life was good.  I had my tobacco security blanket.  It solved any problems I encountered.

But as I neared my 40s, I started noticing subtle changes in my health.  It took longer to fall asleep.  Coughing became a constant nuisance.  My $50 cologne was overshadowed by “Eau De La Forest Fire."  There was never enough flavor in my food.  The term “renewable energy” made me laugh.  And, I found myself becoming lazy.

Ten years into my habit, I saw the next big “quit-smoking” tool on late night television.  It was amazing!  An electronic cigarette!

This thing gave you the nicotine, produced the “smoke," and even lit up with a glow when you puffed.  I could smoke it anywhere – the restaurant, on an airplane – without repercussion.

What a complete waste of money.  While the e-cig addressed my habit of toking, I really didn't find it useful in actually quitting.  Probably the best thing that happened with this approach is my wife accidentally washed it, and I had an excuse to buy a pack of real smokes.

So there you have it - five ways I tried, and failed, to kick the cancer stick. But since being chosen as one of the Lucky 7 in the CNN 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, I've been shown a completely new approach in becoming smoke-free: I've finally admitted that I'm unable to go it alone.

My personal trainer, Bill Wilkins, enrolled me in a Freedom from Smoking class at the MedWest Fitness Center in Waynesville, North Carolina.  Today was my second weekly class.

Our “teach” and Dr. Sanjay Gupta fan, Kathy, has a sincere approach in seeing us succeed, and has already enlightened me concerning some very interesting smoking facts and alternative methods for cessation.  In two weeks, we are scheduled for our quit day.  For some reason, I'm buying into what Kathy is teaching us and truly expect to succeed this time around.

I feel somewhat embarrassed that for the first time in my life I require outside assistance in accomplishing something important. However, I have a confident outlook on this humbling endeavor in becoming smoke-free forever.

Unlike my younger years, today I have far greater responsibilities.  People rely on me.  Plus, I'm still young, and I'm not going to allow tobacco to rob me of my prime any longer.

Who's with me?

soundoff (522 Responses)
  1. Jen

    My grandmother smoked her entire life, I never knew her any other way. The day she was diagnosed with lung cancer was also the last day she ever smoked (the cancer had also spread to her brain). She died 1 month later. I am angry at cigarettes and I'm angry at her. I loved her, adored her and in my eyes she was perfect (even w/cigs). But when she passed away I felt betrayed. Her and her habit robbed me of more memories to be made. She didn't get to see me walk down the aisle, she never held my babies, and my holidays were never the same. Please Rick stop smoking for yourself and your family, you can do it, I know you can! Find inspiration in the people that love you.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rachel

      Jen-Don't be upset with your grandmother. Like myself, she probably became addicted when the effects were unknown. Unless you have ever been addicted to a drug like smoking, it's hard to appreciate the difficulty in quitting. I smoked for over 40 years and quit smoking 7 months ago. I still struggle nearly every day, but the struggles are getting easier.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • justmeanddog

      Believe me Rachel I know its hard. Some of the Hallucinations I had going through withdrawal still scare me, and it was 1988 when I had them, but you are over the hard part now all you have to kick now is the “Habit”. You have beaten the Nicotine. Congratulations! You have done what Millions have tried and failed to do.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  2. CJ

    I smoked a pack a day for 10 years. Tried several times to stop, using all different methods. Then almost a month ago I got sick, and would cough up a lung everytime I tried to take a puff. Guess thats when it just clicked for me, thinking why the heck was I trying to force myself to do something that was obviousally hurting me. Havnt touched a cigarett since. My hubby is trying to quit as well, and has cut down a lot. Even having cigarettes still in the house does not make me want one. I believe that trying to quit when you are not fully ready and wanting to, is a waste. Even if you have success, you are more likely to relapse. No matter what method you choose, patch, gum, e-cig, cold turkey, etc....the main thing is to really, really want to quit. Doing it because its someone elses idea, or you feel pressure to, is just going to make your life miserable. Do it for you 🙂

    January 31, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JP

      I had the same experience! Then I went through serious withdrawal and knew it was time to stop. Getting sick was the catalyst, but sticking with it was a (really difficult) personal decision. It's also helpful to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. When you get done with a run, the last thing you want is a cigarette!

      January 31, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
  3. chris

    Funny thing about smokers is, after the first cigarette, we all will inevitably "try to quit" multiple times. As a smoker for over a decade, I have countless stories of my quitting antics as well as friends who have tried. Everyone failed. The only real way to quit any vice is to build a strong support circle of family and friends and remind yourself its mind over matter. Good luck with your journey

    January 31, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. dee

    I finally quit 5 months ago after just getting tired of being a slave to cigs.I used patches just for a couple weeks,I think you just really have to want the change!! Don't give up!

    January 31, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Val

      i quit five months ago after swmoking for 40 years and it was probaly my 5th time but I feel I have done it this time.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  5. Peter

    Great article! I am glad to say that I have been smoke free for 6 months now, and what helped me stay off? I had it set in my mind that I needed to prove everybody wrong who told me I couldn't. I remain smoke free through all the stress to prove them wrong and for the betterment of my life. I hope you all have that one thing that helps you keep off the cancer!

    January 31, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Hap Hazzard

    I quit from moral outrage over the price increase to over $2 a pack. Yep, it's been a while.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dan

    Good job Rick. There is really no one size fits all way to quit, and boy it's tough. I quit cold turkey, and to be successful I had to specifically not go certain places for almost 3 months. It was almost impossible for me to go into my local pub without lighting up.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Whale

    I smoked all my life. Tried to quit more than once. Always failed. Hated smoking and all that goes with it.
    I quit suddenly after reluctantly accepting the fact that I will never be able to quit. I walked up a short mountain trail with the elevation gain of about 3500 feet at a fairly good pace. I hike every chance I get. This time, however, I went back down and thought I would cough up my lungs. That was in August 2011. Never lit one since and don't miss it at all. I say that I didn't quit smoking, smoking quit me.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Quitter

    I quit 8 years ago after smoking for 12 years. My fiance would not marry a smoker. Yes, I had incentive, but at the same time, enough was enough. I tried all the other methods (except the e-cig – it wasnt around then), but the only thing that worked was cold turkey. I am sorry to say, but you have to have self control. Any little excuse that you use to start smoking again is weakness. Simple as that. It is hard, but you have to find the strength. Drink some water. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Do something, anything, to get your mind off it. But dont eat! Everyone gains weight after quitting. Hey – its better than smoking! Good luck!

    January 31, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ken

      Wife refused to marry a smoker?
      Doesnt sound like incentive to me, sounds like an ultimatum.
      Shes not worthy...

      January 31, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      Ken, if someone has a line that they will not cross then why should they cross it? This woman decided she wouldn't marry a smoker. That was her line in the sand. Should she have been untrue to herself so she wouldn't have to give an ultimatum? You shouldn't give ultimatums out left and right. You can't say "Do the dishes or I'm leaving". You can say "You are a drunk. Clean up or I am gone."

      January 31, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
  10. Kaye

    I was a smoker for 43 + years. I have not had a cigarette in over 28 months. I started using the electronic cigarette and have not looked back. The electronic has no smell and way fewer chemicals than regular cigarettes. More like 3 to 4 as opposed to 3 to 4 thousand that is in regular cigarettes. What is expelled is water vapor, no more harmful than fog from fog machines used in some night clubs or medical vaporizers.. My doctor now considers me a non-smoker, my health is better, I smell better. You just need to do the research, find one that works for you. I never intended to quit, just wanted to stop giving Uncle Sugar so much tax money. From the frist puff on the Electronic, I never lit another cigarette.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shaneeda Quit

      I went the E-cig route too, but I'm weaning myself off of them. I've been reducing the nicotine level in the e-juice that I buy.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • SusieKJ

      I'm the same – been vaping an e-cig for almost 2 years now. I had smoked for 20 years, quit off and on for various amounts of time, and always went back. Especially for those of us that smoke because it helps us cope with stress and like to smoke when we drink. There are 2 chemicals in e-cigs, both found in our food, so I'm cool with that. I don't have cravings, don't stink, have good lungs again, etc. Yes the nicotine is a vasoconscrictor, but so is caffeine, chocolate, and a number of other foods we eat.

      January 31, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • CT

      I went the e-cig route two years ago and have not looked back. For the first few months I increased the nicotine in the e-liquid to help fight the urges, then over the next year I dropped it back down a little at a time. Learned to mix my own liquid (easy) and still use e-cigs today at a much reduced nicotine level. I can breathe, taste things, smell things, and love not being tied to the addiction of cigarettes. For those who tried e-cigs and failed, all I can say is you have to WANT to quit bad enough that you will exercise some will power over the first 30-60 days. If one brand of e-cig does not work, another will, so keep trying. There's a LOT of info out there to help people with e-cigs, you just have to look for it. The disposable ones in the gas stations are not the answer, go to a reputable company in the US and buy their product, you can thank me later.

      February 7, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
  11. Kasia

    Good luck. Would be curious to see where you are 6 months from now and if your current try is successful.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • L C B

      Ditto – but, 'follow up' articles are quite hard to find . . . if ever even written, and published!

      January 31, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  12. Natalie

    You didn't get the right e-cig. The crappy ones are the ones on TV. Get a better model with higher levels of nicotine in the fluid.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Likealion

      Can anyone recomend one that has enough nicotine to really work?

      January 31, 2012 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • CT

      http://www.volcanoecigs.com – US Based.. great products, decent prices. Pick up an Inferno kit.

      February 7, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
  13. Chris M

    I smoked 3 packs a day for 25 years. Quit cold turkey a hundred times without success. Finally took some pills, Welbutrin, and quitting was the easiest thing I ever did. Been off them for 5 years now. I know a lot of people who succeeded with Chantrix too.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Dave

    Best of luck to you! You can do it if you want. I was a chain smoker 2-3 packs a day. Quite cold turkey back in 2000, nobody wanted to be around me for the first month, and I too wanted to squeeze somebody – anybody neck, but I did it and feel so much better.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Darby

    You can do it. It is not easy, and I still want one 3 years after the fact, but I do feel great and know I don't have to light up.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Rags

    The quickest way to get off the habit is to not start it to begin with. The next quickest way is to die horribly of one of many complications brought on by sucking those poisons into your lungs.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Bonnie

    I smoked for 40 years. All of a sudden,, I made up my mind I am not doing this any more. That was 8/27/11. Haven't smoked since. The 27th of every month, I post it on my facebook page. It now has been 5 months. I have been around smokers. But have a mind set,, that I will not ever smoke again. It was so easy for me.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. justmeanddog

    You have taken step #1 only 15,000,000,000 + or- another billion or two to go, Just kidding. I smoked for 28 years non stop at least 2 packs + a day along with that I had about 12 or more pipes handy all the times just so when one got hot I could light up a cold one. I loved to smoke, but one day when my doctor sent me for a routine X-Ray and blood work because of my constant breathing problems and reoccurring pneumonia. He wrote on the bottom of my paper “heavy smoker”. I read that when I left his office as I was about to light up my next cigarette which was half way to my mouth and I stopped dead in my tracks. I thought to myself “I’m smarter than this”. I put the cigarette back in its pack and told myself “if I can make it through tonight I am finished smoking”. Now remember I had to “Fast” for the blood work next morning so I couldn’t even Eat my way through the night and I almost went nuts, some would say I did go nuts that night. Any way I made it through that night and the hallucinations and cold sweats that went on for about a week. I carried those Butts with for the next couple of weeks and every time I went to take one I told myself “not today maybe tomorrow". That “Tomorrow” never did come. That was in November 1988 and I knew I had it licked when I took my loaded Deer rifle into the woods and instead of smokes I took 2 bags of mints and I did not shoot myself. I gave up the hunting long ago along with the mints and I am pretty sure if I hadn’t quit I would be dead. At least that is what my cardiologist told me anyway. I guess I looked at cigarettes as a deadly Enemy that was out to kill me and I was not about to let that happen or at least I was not about to help it. Sorry for the length of the post but if it helps you it’s a small price to pay your life. My doctor told me Nicotine is one of the most addictive Drugs you can take and I know that for a fact because I was an Addict, in full–blown denial, for a long time. Hope this helps you. Good luck!

    January 31, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Kase

    E cigs work. Sounds to me like you couldn't figure them out or bought a poor model.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. SilverFox

    Many years ago a 25 year old co-worker of mine wanted to quit smoking. He smoked 2 packs of non-filtered Camels a day. You could tell by his skin tone and texture this gentleman was a heavy smoker since he was 16. The breathing was labored and coughed constantly throughout the day. One day he decided to stop cold turkey. Being a non-smoker, I thought how hard can it be? For 4 months I was his punching bag throughout the process. But everyday at the end of the shift he would always take every effort to tell me "thanks". At that time I did'nt understand why he said thanks all the time. I certainly did not assist him in quiting. By the time it was time to part ways (back to college), his breathing alone improved tremendously and had more energy. He was a little grumpy but I thought it was just his personality. Before parting ways, he thanked me very much. He explained to me that even though I did not "help" him quit directly, indirectly I helped him by being there. He told me that doing it alone is extremely difficult. We were not considered "close friends" by any standards but for him, having someone, whether it's family or friend or an aquaintence, along for the ride to help pass the day was the most help of all. I learned a very valuable lesson that summer. It is EXTREMELY hard to quit. I witnessed it first hand. I have tremendous repect for those who try to quit. You are not "less of a person" by getting help. If anything, you'll be able to quit sooner without relapsing. It works if you put in the effort. By the way, my co-worker is still a non-smoker.....and I always tell him to keep up the good work.......

    January 31, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Oh nicotine

    Good luck Rick! I quit cigarettes years ago but then there was the gum and Bandits (cheeky tobacco) then gum again and finally the patch. I did a draw down with the patch (not the way the package tells you to). I took tiny steps down starting with two large patches (didn't mind the vivid dreams at all) and finished with a half of a small patch. I gave it 30 days between each step to get fully adjusted. It took 6 months but I did it!! It's only been 90 days but I know I will never get back on that addiction.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Other Guy

    Cancr scarred me so I quit smoking. Toothpics helped a lot. Then I got Dutch Elm Disease.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Danno

    12 year pack a day smoker. Failed many times with patches/gum.... the e-cigarette finally did it. I used the e-cig to cut down on regular cigarettes for a couple months, and then all of a sudden I didn't need tobacco anymore.... the e-cig alone has provided the easiest and stress-free way of quitting I have encountered.

    But don't buy the crappy ones at the corner store... go online and find a good quality refillable/rechargeable one. Trust me.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Tmoney

    Wow. I thought I was the only one who started in his late 20s and was suddenly alarmed at horrible health changes smoking caused in my early 40s. I'm 46 now and I've been smoke free for almost 2 years. What was my secret to stopping? My then 6 year old son. He walked up to me while I was smoking in the back yard one summer afternoon and said, "Daddy, I don't want you to die. Stop smoking!"

    I didn't.

    But that kid of mine kept at it. Eventually, I woke up. He was right. I threw the cigarettes away. I took a trip to visit a friend for a week in another state who is an avid anti-smoker to buffer the transition. I came home and that was that. haven't smoked since. I don't have the desire to now. Thanks buddy.

    January 31, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. psv125

    Read the book "Easy way to quit smoking" by Allan Karr. After reading this book you will quit smoking and you will not suffer.
    II'm not smoking already a month and I'm not suffering. Before I was trying e-cig, nicotine patch, gum and "cold turkey" method.
    Nothing worked. After reading this great book it worked like a magic. Thank you Allan Karr!

    January 31, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wayne

      I have known several friends who have quit by reading the Allen Carr book – they swear by it.
      Allen Carr – The Easyway to Quit Smoking

      January 31, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  26. Jay

    Jen is right. You can only quit when you really really want to. It is very addictive. Better still, just dont start it. I smoked for 5 years and finally gave up for my girlfriend who I loved dearly. She just could not tolerate my smoking habit. I valued her more than I valued my cigerettes. I gave it up cold turkey. Suffered for 6 months. Started chewing gum and then candy and eventually gave up all that over the next 2 years. Haven;t touched a cigerrette in the past 20 years. Yes.. you need to love something else more than you love cigerrettes to give it up. It may be your wife, kids, a future, but usually it is that moment when you know that it is your life or your cigerrette. Life usually wins at that time, but by then it is too late.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Generics

    You aren't going to quit smoking. You're just saying these things, because you feel obligated to show progress due to CNN's investment. That's just the truth of it all.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leza

      Wow, Generics!! Don't be a hater all of your life!!!

      January 31, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
  28. Lily

    I smoked for over 40 years. Did manage to cut way back while I was pregnant -30 and 34 years ago. But came "back" to smoking each time. Surgery (not related to smoking) helped me finally quit. Morphine for first few days, then oxycodone
    for a couple weeks. In a sense, I was lucky and didn't really go through the physical withdrawal. However, the psychological habitual addiction has been pretty rough. For the first year I dreamed of smoking several times a month, Upon awakening, I was craving a cig !! It has been two years now and frankly, I still miss those damned cigarettes. But
    it is nice to be a "non smoker" these days. My (adult) children are proud of me; and that feels good. Because I stopped,
    my husband has cut way back, my best friends have cut back so I'm feeling good about those things too.
    Not sharing this to discourage anyone from trying to quit but letting you know the 'battle' continues, even after you've beat
    the physical part. It gets easier every day but you must remind yourself every day why it is important to not give in even to one cigarette.
    Because of my experience, and I don't advocate breaking an ankle and requiring surgery, I wonder though, if under a doctor's care and monitering of the situation whether taking a mild drug would help others finally quit. Any doctors out there
    willing to try this approach for their patients wanting to stop ? I see my husband who could use just "a little help" to help him stop completely and looking forward to a percaset or vicadin a few times a day might just do the trick.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. terry2

    I quit over 25 years ago after many attempts. I had a lot of reasons to quit, but what helped me most was realizing that the cigarette was in control of my life and that really made my angry. I like to be in control as much as one can be, and reminding myself that I wanted to be in charge really helped me to stay quit. It took over a year before I felt like I was a non smoker. I still get cravings though (minor ones) when I am with certain friends, and I still have the odd dream where I am on my way to the store to pick up a pack. I don't think your brain ever goes back to it's pre -smoking state. You always have to be on guard and have a plan just in case a really strong craving comes along.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Craig Traverse City MICHIGAN

    I smoked 25 years, I am 42 now. Soon to be 43. I did not stop quiting. I tried, nic gum, patch, cold turkey, prescription inhaler and Chantix. FAILED EACH TIME. My neighbor introduced me to electronic cigs. Wow. I have not touched a cig in over 2 years. No desire to. I feel I am still smoking but without all the garbage that comes with traditional smoking like, smell, cost, tar, carbon monoxcide, 4000+ carcinogens and a cough that would not go away. My lungs felt heavy. Now, I am cheating death and still getting my fix. Yes, nicotine is dangerous. It causes cardiovascular issues. But the amount of nicotine is small in comparison to real cigs. I vap my ecig anywhere and everywhere. Now, the chain is broken. I as a long term smoker, enjoyed smoking. I hated the result of smoking (health issues). Ecig also has no nicotine smoke juice for those who want to inhale but virtually no danger. Do not be a butt head. VAP now. Saves money and health. Johnson Creek Smoke Juice is the highest quality you can get.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Craig Traverse City MICHIGAN

      BTW......keeping an inventory of electronic ecig accessories is essential. If you run out, it is not like you can goto 7-11 and buy what you need. Most local stores sell accessories for double what you can get online. Johnson Creek is the best for smoke juice. I buy from Volcano for accessories. I have at least 10 atimizers on hand and etc. GL

      January 31, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  31. DocDaddy

    I too was a smoker of 43 years. I tried many times to stop smoking. I could quit for a while but always went back to my habit of a pack a day. As of February 1, I have been a non-smoker for FOUR years. I used CHANTIX for twelve weeks and my health insurance paid for most of it. Had a few wild dreams, not nightmares, just "way out there" dreams. That was the only real side effect of the product.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Chad

    My sixth way was a heart attack at age 49. That day was my last cig...That date was my quit date, I certainly did it cold turkey, but the pain pills helped numb just about evrything I was feeling. Don't wait for that to happen. Cigs aren't cool and I can tell you a heart attack is definetly not cool.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justmeanddog

      Actually a Cardiac Surgeon told me he didn’t like to waste his valuable time and resources fixing up self-destructive smokers when there were plenty of innocent victims in line for him to look after.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  33. Paul

    It's called will power. Some people have it and some people don't. I quit after 12 years cold turkey because I wanted to do it. That was it. I haven't had one cigarette in five years, and even in a room full of people smoking cigarettes don't have a strong urge to light up, actually the opposite.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Micky

    Been smoke free for just over 6 years after smoking almost 2 packs a day for 10 years. As my doctor told me, you can not cure an addiction with the drug causing the addiction. So anything containing nicotine, patches / gums etc. were out. They're are useless and a waste of time he said. He was absolutely right! I was prescribed Welbutrin XL which is an antidepressant but for some reason it blocks the urge to smoke. After 2 months I didn't even miss it. Chantix came out just after I quit so I can attest to its affectiveness but the Welbutrin worked wonders! Good luck whatever your method!

    January 31, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Elise

    Congrats, Rick. I think the key to quitting is to not stop quitting. It's the rare smoker who gives it up on the first try. I also agree with the poster who said that people smoke for different reasons, and you have to address that particular aspect of your smoking habit in order to quit. I am a very oral person. I love eating as well (chocolate is now my biggest demon) and it was actually the nicotine gum that helped me quit. It obviously isn't for everyone, but having that taste of "cigarette" in my mouth after a meal, and something to chew on helped a lot.

    Another aspect of the quitting process for me was spiritual. I had smoked for 4 or 5 years, quit for 3, smoked again for 13 years, and then my mother got lung cancer. Both my grandparents had died from lung cancer as well. My mom and my grandfather were both smokers. Watching someone you love die of cancer is a terrifying, gut wrenching experience. Cancer robs you of all your humanity and dignity before it takes your life. She died in my home at the age of 55. I was scared beyond description of going out the same way. My husband and I both smoked, so it was hard to quit when he kept falling off the wagon. Eventually, in desperation, I turned to God. I hadn't prayed in years. One night, after my 3rd or 4th failed attempt to quit, I pretty much begged Him to save my life because apparently I was unable to do so myself.

    I woke up the next morning, started the gum again, and this time it was different. Okay, so I was addicted to the gum for 6 months. :o) But that beat being addicted to the cigarettes, and I gradually lost the need for it. I have now been smoke free for 25 years and I'm the same age my mom was when she died. I have had absolutely no desire to ever smoke again, and I can't abide the smell of nicotine. I pretty much hate the things, and I think I always will. They took my mother from me way too soon.

    Everyone has their own path to walk with beating addictions. My ex-husband (who is now a good friend) is still struggling with his addiction to nicotine after all these years. He can't breathe lying on his back, has constant fluid in his lungs and a terrible hacking cough, and still can't give them up. Some may say that my prayers had nothing to do with what happened, but I believe otherwise. In any case, I wish you the best of luck with your own path to freedom and health.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leza

      When you can't help yourself and you need the extra push, PRAYER WORKS. No matter what the naysayers say, PRAYER WORKS. I believe God helped you because you asked sincerely. Good luck to you in your everyday struggle. I pray that your faith does not fail when you need it most.

      January 31, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
  36. Jeff of Peoria

    I quit 6 times and it never took until I realized I would never be a NON SMOKER but always an EX SMOKER. I smoked 2 + packes a day for 20 years but I quit cold turkey in 1993 and have not had one since. I still need one everyday but I know I don't have to have one and I won't die if I don't.

    I think what really clicked was when I did the math and it was costing me about $3K a year.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      You still crave one every day?...really

      January 31, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  37. The_Mick

    I tried to quit cold turkey many times and finally realized the temptation due to friends and relatives that smoked was too much that first week. So on Aug. 9, 1995, I went to visit an out of state cousin -she and her husband had quit- and stayed with them for a week in their semi-rural home. I kept my last two packs of cigarettes in the glove compartment – it's not the same quitting when they're not available. That week my temper was a little quick, but I was with understanding folks who had a large wine rack so I made it through ok. After one more week back at home, I was over the hump and never have smoked since.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. gga

    I smoked for 20 years, starting at the age of 15. It took me 10 of those years of trying before I finally quit that habit I hated so much. I tried New Year's Resolution (I would make it 2-3 weeks) and the Great American Smoke Out every year. I think the longest I went during those attempts was a total of four months. Then, in 1995 I met this great guy. He didn't smoke, which none of my friends did since my divorce. I purposely surrounded myself with non-smokers to limit my exposure to this nasty habit that I hated. So I meet this great, non-smoking guy, and every one of his friends did smoke. However, I was relentless and bound and determined to successfully give up the cancer sticks once and for all. It started in the fall as the annual Great American Smoke Out was approaching. I had a plan. On November 1 I would start with 16 cigarettes, and by THE GASO, on November 16, I would be done. Finished. A non-smoker! And, it seemed to work. Each day I took away another cigarette until the final week. The 16th was on a Thursday, and by Tuesday I was down to two cigarettes. That's when panic set in. OMG. I'm not going to be able to do this... I'm going to fail again... OH, NO!!! And then, the Radio Gods heard me because just at that crucial moment the University of Texas announced that it was conducting a Smoking Cessation Program for Women with high risk to heart disease! Oh, Glory! Oh, Happy Day. I was the perfect candidate! My father had suffered numerous heart attacks, has had three bypass surgeries, and my beloved aunt, Dad's sister, had recently died due artery blockage attributed to smoking cigarettes. I immediately called them from my car phone (thanks for that, Honey!) and was accepted into the program right then and there (oh, sure, there was paperwork, but you get my point). My first session would begin that Friday, two days after my last cigarette. Could I make it until then??? Yes! I knew at that moment that I would finally kick this nasty, gross, expensive habit for good. And the program was great. For six weeks I met with a counselor on Friday for 2 hours and we would discuss avoidance tactics, and coping strategies. But I think what helped the most is that I had to blow into a carbon reader at the beginning of each session and it became a source of pride to watch it go to zero. After 10 years of trying, I finally had my last cigarette on November 30, 1995. Sure, I've gained weight – OMG food tastes so good! But, I don't care. I LOVE NOT SMOKING!!! Its 17 years this year, and I always remember to celebrate... with a glass of wine 🙂

    January 31, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justmeanddog

      Red Wine I hope.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  39. Rjagain62

    The doctor showed me the X-Ray and 3 hours later I had my last.
    I want one now but won't do it......... I hope.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jim

    I tell myself to stop smokking, and I stop instandly the same day, not smoking untill today 25 years ago.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. joel

    I'd love to light one up tonight after dinner, but.......... I won't, because I NEVER want to have to quit again. If you are working on quitting, you have all my best wishes and if you have never started great for you!

    January 31, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Tom

    I quit 5 years ago after 35 years using the pill. But my biggest realization though, was how much I was spending on cigarettes. So after I quit I started saving my cigarette money for things I wanted. Cool man toys I had always wanted
    but had done without. I still keep my smoke cash stash going but have no desire to ever start again. I can't stand to be around it and hate the way my clothes smell if I am.
    Good luck Rick. Hope it works out for you.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Wes

    I smoked for 24 years. Toward the end I was smoking two packs a day and basically had one lit all the time. I too went through the gambit of mulling through the "Tools" to help me stop. I didn't try any of them because my thought process was telling me that the worst thing I could do is try 5 things and fail and then give up. So I took time looked at the reasons I wanted to quit and then one day I woke and told myself that that was it. I'm done. For my health/My children's health The thought of me doing something so selfish that causes so much harm was not acceptable to me. Like most people commenting on here the most important thing is to be ready. When you are truly ready it will be a snap. I've been smoke free for 6 years now. And as an added bonus my wife quit too after seeing my triumph. Good luck and just keep reminding yourself of the reasons you want to quit.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. B

    Unlike you, I had success with the e-cigarette. Not the ones the sell on TV, though. Those – yes – are junk. The deal with those is to get you to re-buy the pre-filled liquid cartridges – which are weak at best to begin with...

    I did some online research and found a good forum where e-cigarette users traded knowledge. I am using an e-cigarette that is about the size of a small cigar, like a tiparillo. The battery lasts all day and I add my own liquid to the device. MUCH less expensive.

    True, it is not the same as smoking, but it does give me nicotine (without everything else), and satisfies my 'hand to mouth' habit – the other almost equally addictive part of the smoking habit. After a bit, you get used to it and it becomes normal.

    I use an English Toffee flavor which people have commented positively about. Best of all, is the nicotine content of the product can be purchased in various strengths – including zero. I am slowly weaning down to that point, admittedly not in a hurry...

    It's been 2 years and one month since I inhaled smoke.

    As many on here surly have said. You (really) have to (really) want to, and you can never give up.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • B


      I don't mean to imply anyone on here is 'surly'. Good thing I didn't write how much my spelling has improved since I quit smoking.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
  45. Harry

    I quit smoking successfully 4 years ago with a 4 pound bag a jolly ranchers and a truckload of will power. My daughter's birth is what caused me to quit. I didn't want her around the stuff and I didn't want to end up having her watch me die from lung cancer right in front of her.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Ray

    Good luck Rick!!!

    After smoking Newports for 20 years (pack a day), and trying everything you listed in your article, I was able to finally quit two years ago. My mother, my sister, and a couple of freinds were able to quit by taking Chantix, and they convinced me to give it a try. I never expected it would actually work, but I told my wife I would try, and to my surprise I've been smoke free for 2 years now. It might not be the prefered method for everyone, but it worked for me.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Steve

    You have to WANT to stop smoking to be successful. All the excuses are just that – excuses.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. formersmoker

    I smoked for 30 years. Four years ago I used Chantix for one month and haven't smoked since. Still smells good when I pass someone who is smoking.

    My father smoked for much longer than I. He currently has 47% lung capacity of a non-smoking man of his age, height and weight. His pulmonary doctor told him that you will never undo what smoking has done to your lungs.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      Not necessarily, I smoked 2 packs a day for over 40 years and quit 7 months ago. I recently had a pulminary funtion test as well as chest X-rays and showed no signs of emphazima. My doctor told me that if I stay quit and continue to excecise, my lungs will eventually heal themselves. Between one month and nine months, the cilia in your lungs will regenerate, allowing your body to clean your lungs and reduce infection. Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smokers. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas also decreases.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • patricia

      Hi formersmoker. You could be me! I quit four years ago after smoking for 30 years. I used Chantix for one week and visited quitnet.com many times a day for weeks. They have forums, clubs, messages. Very supportive.

      January 31, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
  49. Aacon

    I have lost 3 friends in 5 years to cancer from cigarettes.I cut back from 3 packs a day to 1 pack a day for over a year now.February 2012 I will be trying to cut back to half a pack ,(10 cigarettes ) a day,which will be hard for me,but should I make it all the way to march I`m going to just quit because I am so afraid of getting cancer too, if I haven`t already ! .Smoked for 35 years now.Enough is enough ! Smoking is one of the most stupid things a person can start to do,but one of the most intelligent things a person can stop doing.Smoking is childish ! Time for my old a$$ to grow up !

    ~ Aacon S.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Chris

    Have a heart attack and spend time in the hospital. That may help you quit.

    January 31, 2012 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aacon

      @Chris I`ve seen people that have to use a tiny hole in their throat just to breath who I saw stick a cigarette in it to smoke.It`s harder than you think.I think a person has to develop an authentic hate for cigarettes to stop smoking forever. If you do not smoke it is harder than you realize to just stop for even a week much more forever Sir.

      January 31, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
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