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. Joe

    The author in this article uses a lot of words like "couldn't" and "can't". It's only when you replace that type of thinking with "wouldn't" and "won't" that you take the first steps towards the responsibility needed to make a change.

    "Couldn't" and "can't" suggest that someone else is pulling the strings or driving the car... it's "you", and all your decisions are "yours".

    January 31, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cindy

      You obvioulsy have never smoked. Ouiting is harder than any non-smoker can imagine. I know because I finally kicked the habit after many tries. Don't put down a smoker that has trouble quitting. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
    • Joy in Sacramento

      Cindy is right. Tobacco addiction is just as bad as heroin addiction. Joe, I'm sure you mean well, but I don't think you know beans about physical addictions.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:16 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Couldn't and Can't have nothing to do with it. Even when a family member was in the throes of Alzheimer's and couldn't remember anything for more than a few minutes, we couldn't convince her that she didn't smoke.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      Good advice! As a former smoker, I can attest to how difficult it is to truly quit. Although it was hard, and I still think about smoking a cig in times of stress, what finally got me to quit was my own determination and way of thinking. Tried the patches, the gum, and kept going back, because I was looking for an easy way out. When I decided to take responsibility for that addiction and change my way of thinking, I finally succeeded. Other responders- however hard it is to quit an addiction (to anything), changing the way you think about it will most definitely help you be stronger and more prepared to finally quit!

      January 31, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
    • c s

      My brother smoked for years before finally quitting. Actually he told me he quit three times before he finally stopped. He said the first time was easy and for a few months it worked. The second time was harder and for a few months it worked. Finally he quit a third time and it was terribly hard. He then told me that if he ever started again that he would never be able to stop again. So far he has not smoked. So good luck Rick, I hope that this time you make it.

      January 31, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
  2. RitaJ

    I started smoking cigarettes when I was much younger, ended up smoking for 50 years. You would think I would've known better since I was a nurse all those years. The thought of me trying to quit didn't phase me since back then, it was every where you looked, dined and traveled. After some life changes, the first time I attempted to quit I was already well into my 70's. Twice a week I would attend a class/support group for those individuals that needed a bit of assistance in order to quit. And it worked! With that and will power, I weaned off of it and never smoked again. That was 12 years ago. Remarkably, I don't have lung cancer or pre-cancers. However after a lifetime of smoke, the kicked habit had left its damage of course and today I have emphysema. Knowing it could be a lot worse if I had quit a few years later, I'm happy and very willing to take care of myself so that I can continue enjoying life.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. daisy

    A hypnotist worked for me. Went 23 years ago, paid $105.00 and have not had a cigarette since. My husband still can't believe it. I wanted to get pregnant. That was my motivation. Plus I didn't want to waste $100 bucks. Worth a try.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Coffin Nailer

      Be careful with hypnosis. Although it worked for you, not everyone will have the same results. The hypnotist usually finds something in your past that is very bad and associates that with your smoking urge. Then every time you want to light up that though comes up and you don't light up. For some it keeps you from smoking but now you are all messed up psychologically. Just a word of caution.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:33 | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    I quit smoking in 2001 and haven't smoked since. I tried to quit and failed probably two dozen times before that. There was nothing different about the last time, other than that it stuck. When people ask me how I quit, I just say I kept trying until I actually succeeded.

    My father always said he "couldn't" quit and it was a waste of time to try. Then he had a heart attack at age 63 in 2005. All of a sudden, quitting not so much of a problem. Anyone can quit, you just have to do it.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. kambode

    I'd been smoking since I was 16. I'd been trying to quit many times, but on 01/01/2008, I quitted "cold turkey". The trick was to keep myself busy, avoid drinking caffein, eat my meals at different hours, and stay away from smokers. It was extremely hard, but it worked for me. Today is 4 years and 30 days I've successfully ceased smoking. And I feel great - i no longer feel sore around my joints again. I taste my favorite food very well and I sleep soundly like a baby again.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Canadiangirl

    I'm in my fourth week of a cold turkey quit and doing really well. I quit when the nighttime wheezing and the swollen throat sensation really started to scare me. I was terrified I was getting emphysema or copd. I found a website whyquit.com which really, really helped me maintain a conviction to quit. I read there every day for the first week and a half.
    I still have chest numbing cravings but I keep the mantra from whyquit.com in my head, that you can't continue to be an addict if you just "never take another puff". The law of addiction is that if you administer an addictive substance to an addict it will cause re-establishment of the chemical addiction. This is the cause of all failed quits, there is no other reason.
    There are incredibly sad stories and videos on that site that will literally take your breath away. They are a powerful motivator but I think what gives me the most strength is the knowledge of the repair process the lungs go through when you quit and the fact that I can feel it myself. I don't wheeze at night anymore and although I still have worries about my throat, it still feels a little funny, I know I'm getting healthier each and every day. I thank my lucky stars every day and congratulate myself every night that I don't smoke.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. stenquist34

    Tried to quit for years with no luck. My Dr. put me on Wellbutrin. Worked like a miracle. If you really want to stop smoking call your DR. NOW!.Smoked for 20 years at least a pack a day.! Now month smoke free.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • keith

      So you replaced one drug with another?

      January 31, 2012 at 19:25 | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      keith – Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that is used for smoking cessation. The treatment program lasts for up to 3 months, and then, with any luck, you are free of the addiction. You CLEARLY have never had to deal with this problem, which is good for you, but doesn't give you the perspective of one who has quit smoking.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
  8. Ryan

    It should be illegal to poison those around you in a public place. If I walked around in public spraying peoples' faces with a little squirt gun, eventually I would be arrested. Yet smokers are allowed to knowingly cause harm to everyone around them, including the disabled and/or small children who don't even have the ability to get out of harms way. Disgusting.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ChrisP

      Agreed 100%, but smokers will justify it anyway. I used to. Not anymore. You're absolutely right!

      January 31, 2012 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • danny

      you do realize smoking is an addiction, quitting is difficult i quit years ago, and its not like people are blowing it directly into peoples faces

      January 31, 2012 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      I'm an X smoker and I still think that is an incredibly stupid comment. By your logic, we should lock you up for running your television, driving your car, eating meat, veggies, or any other thing that man does. Getting a wiff of smoke while walking down the street does nothing to your lungs or health, the body is much stronger than that. People like you just really tick me off, you make stupid comments like that without even really thinking about what your saying. I guess you don't build camp fires because of the smoke in them? If it burns, and gives off smoke, it has carcinigens in it, so why doesn't it hurt your lungs? Because you are not constantly breathing in huge volumes every day.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • danny

      thank you brad! finally someone with some actual logic

      January 31, 2012 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • jerome

      ive been somiking for 20+ yrs. in a building we shouldn't b aloud to smoke. but outside GIVE me BREAK! if u dont like the smoke just walk away.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
  9. Andre Daie

    I wish anyone wanting to quit good luck because I know It's not easy. I really wanted to quit after smoking for 25 years and decided to go cold turkey. I had no withdrawl symptons and have never even thought of touching a tobacco product again after that. It was one of the best things I've ever done for myself and family. I hope that if you really want to stop you'll tell yourself tobacco will not ruin your life.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Samuel

    My grandfather was a smoker who struggled to quit but eventually succeeded in kicking the habit. He taught us grandkids, "if you never nibble, you'll never get hooked." I am grateful for his warning to us and his example in overcoming something so comfortable and addictive to him. Rick, thanks for your story; I hope you can do it this time. It will be worth the struggle.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ChrisP

      I like that! I quit a few years ago, and I'm proudly one of those anti-smoking people. 🙂 I'll remember this quote for my son. Thanks for sharing.

      January 31, 2012 at 18:53 | Report abuse |
    • Rick Morris

      Samuel, I appreciate that. I'm definitely done with cigarettes. I'm completely confident I will never smoke those disgusting things ever again. As a gentleman at the fitness center told me, "when you can look at a pack of smokes and say to yourself, 'this is my worst enemy", you can quit for good". Thanks for your post.

      February 5, 2012 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
  11. Canadiangirl

    Let me clarify, my cravings come only a couple of times a day now and they're definitely not so bad to break a conviction to quit. I ride them out, taking deep,breaths, distracting myself etc. and every now and then I open whyquit.com and read. I'm not trying to be an advertisement for that website but I have to give credit where credit is due, it's an enormous resource for me.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Denise

    I started in 1972 to 'be cool'. Last cigarette was Oct. 1997. First, before this, I tried cold turkey. Went 6 months. Then I tried hypnosis but I did't give it a chance to work. Tried hypnonsis again. No luck. Then I tried accupunture. I was able to wake up, go to work and not smoke until the evening. Then I had to get back operation and because I smoked they had to exray my chest. OhOh, spot on lung. 44 years old. I can't even begin to tell you how many novena's I did. Then the dr. gave my zyban and with in 12 hours I wasn't even thinking about a cigarette. Zyban gave me the shakes so I just took 1 pill a day vs. the 2. I haven't had a cigarett yet. Not even a puff, because I am afraid if I did I would smoke again. It can take over your life.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Fox me? Fox you!

    Wellbutrin!!! I smoked from when I was 16 to 41, with a couple of one to two year lapses. My doctor prescribed me Wellbutrin, and six weeks later I was done! I am now the fittest I have been since I was fifteen! I feel awesome, and I am exercising like a fiend. I love my new life!

    January 31, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. arielski

    After smoking for 42 years I quit instantly after one hypnotherapy session. No cravings. I had three sessions in all, and I've been a blissful non-smoker for two years. I cn't imagine going back to that putrid habit.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Malik

    This is a paid advertisement for Freedom from Smoking Clinics. Don't be fooled by the article.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bugsy

      Malik. This is not an ad. This guy lives in my hometown, and he's honestly trying to quit smoking and eat healthier. He doesn't even know yet if those classes will work. All he knows is that he's ready to change. I really wish him the best.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
    • Rick Morris

      Malik, you couldn't be further from the truth. As a member of the CNN Fitnation Triathlon team for 2012, I was asked to write an article regarding my battle with cigarettes. I was in the Freedom from Smoking class for 2 weeks at my local fitness center (MedWest in Waynesville, NC) before the request came in. In fact, I didn't even know the term "freedom from smoking" until I joined the class. I have always known it to be "smoking cessasation". Moreover, I don't think the Freedom from Smoking family can even profit from the miniscule $25 I paid for an 8 week class. And, just to confirm, I think no smoker who is thinking about quitting should be without some sort of support. As the author of this blog, I can tell you I do firmly support the Freedom from Smoking program. I learned some things in there that addressed the underlying reasons on why I smoke – info I never had before. So, if you want to call it a paid advertisement, then I suggest you get to know me better by viewing my participation in the Fitnation Triathlon 2012, and my pledge Saturday on national television on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's website. Best.

      February 5, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse |
  16. sane

    I started smoking at age 12 in 1964. There were doctors on TV telling us which cigarettes were the best for you. I think I had an excuse. After many attempts, I finally quit in 1989 using Nicorette. Thank you, Nicorette. I have no clue why anyone in this day and age with the information out there would begin smoking. My son, who was a stellar athlete in school began smoking at age 19. Bottom line, if you start smoking in this day and age, YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lamprey

    Great blog. The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. I tried all the things listed but after smoking for 22 years I read this book and have not had a cigarette since last March. You have nothing to lose by just reading a book. I don't sell them or make any money off of them...I am just a very happy non-smoker. It works. Try it.

    January 31, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • urban ranger

      I also read the book by Allen Carr. It was the charm for me, as well. I followed the instructions to the letter and after 50 years of heavy smoking....I stopped. This book changed my life. "Allen Carr's easy way to stop smoking" – read it!

      January 31, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
  18. Joe

    You must not have had the correct type of electronic cigarette. Got mine and VaporGod.com and never looked back. 20 year smoker.....quit now for 9 months and have no desire for a cig. Get the right ecig. They work!

    January 31, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Violette

    I think I know one of the triggers. I was a smoker on and off for most of my twenties and thirties. Then I had a wake-up call at the dentist when the dental hygienist told me my teeth would fall out from dry mouth if I didn't quit. I discovered that the feeling of being anxious mimics that feeling you have in your body from nicotine withdrawal. So when you are stressed, your mind believes that nicotine will make you feel less stressed because you are trying to fix the anxious feeling, even if your are no longer addicted. Recognize it for what it is and ride it out. I have been smoke free for twelve years and it now disgusts me.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. sam

    Quit drinking booze and killing people THATS HOW......

    January 31, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick Morris


      February 5, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
  21. Sean

    My mom tried method after method for about 15 years trying to quit. She could never do it. Heavy smoker since her 20s, was never able to release it's iron grip.

    One day her lungs filled with fluid and she had a heart attack. She never smoked, or mentioned smoking again after that. Not once.

    You gotta want it.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. cindy

    Kudos to all you quitters!!

    January 31, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. sam

    I have 20 Ways to quit drinking ALCOHOL....20 Years in jail for MURDER,Rape,Child and spousal abuse,illness,diseases etc

    January 31, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. asdf

    e cigarette works for me. Doesn't make you stink like smoke, doesn't bother other people, can do it indoors... if I want a vice I'm going to have one, and this is it. I smoked for 15 years and have been on this ecig for about a year now. I feel better, don't cough like all hell anymore, etc. It's been great. Sucks you couldn't keep your wife from washing it and gave up on it so quickly, it works pretty well.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. sam

    That's kinda funny SEAN why is it the egyptian Mummies all had heart and artery disease that they died of and THERE WAS NO TOBACCO OR SMOKING BACK THEN ? The reason is the DRANK WINES and ate like PIGS

    January 31, 2012 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      But people smoked a lot of things, back then. People have smoked drugs since the dawn of time. Cannabis, opium poppy, tobacco, these things all have a storied history. That said, the food and the drink don't necessarily help.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
  26. clarke

    I am so proud of everyone and anyone who has kicked this horrible habit. I have spent so much money on trying to quit. I need to be put in a rubber room for six months to kick this habit. It is awful and I call myself all kinds of names, because I know betteri. I am still try and I won't give up.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick Morris

      Clarke, I want you to get your pack of cigs right now, and flush each one. I officially quit Friday after one smoke that morning. I made that commitment to myself, my family, and to all of America and in front of Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I want you to keep me abreast of your progress. Come on, do this with me... Try some hard candy to get you through the first few days. You'll make it. Rick

      February 5, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
  27. Bill

    I quit cold turkey. You are all small-time.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Bonnie in Seattle

    Good luck! I smoked for 40 years and quit 2 years ago using hypnosis. I've saved a ton of money, breathe better and don't smell like an ashtray. I have not regretted it one bit. I hope you can make it!

    January 31, 2012 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Kim Jensen

    today is my 4 year anniversary and didn't even realize it til i read this blog. I'm proud of myself and my husband is proud of me. i'm so glad i quit. Life is so much better when the smoke clears.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justmeanddog

      It also helps your sex life too, because your spouse’s kiss doesn’t taste like a wet three-day old ashtray.

      January 31, 2012 at 19:44 | Report abuse |
  30. Joy in Sacramento

    I smoked for 30 years. I tried a bazillion times and failed. Then a miracle happened - I got a severe case of appendicitis. It was so bad that I was in the hospital for an entire week, pumped up on some truly magnificent drugs, bilssfully pain-free. Couldn't smoke - hey, it was a hospital. Sooooooooo - I was totally stoned for that first week, when withdrawal is the worst. When I got out of hospital, I knew I'd never get a chance like that again, so I tossed all the cigarettes and never looked back. Was still tempted now and then, but it was nothing like the miserable, awful cravings one endures during the first week of withdrawal. So there's my solution folks: Really superior drugs for 7 days. Then cold turkey. It works!

    January 31, 2012 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Red

      Yep, but I think it would take me 30 days in the hospital to quit completely. I've read it takes 30 days for nicotine to leave your system completely. If only insurance companies would pay for it. It's really not fair because people are being denied employment by smoking, just like other addictive drugs, but insurance companies pay for other addictions. They think backwards when it comes to nicotine. Would you give a heroin addict heroin to quit?

      January 31, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
    • Marla

      I wish I'd get appendicitis. I've tried to quit so many times. I'm thinking about camping on a deserted island for a month so I'd have no access cigarettes.

      January 31, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
  31. Jackie

    It's way past time to call smoking a mere "habit". It's an addiction, folks. Just like drug or alcohol addiction.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Chuck

    I have been smoke free for 18 months. I smoked for 19 years. The past five years I tried different smoking cessation programs, and none of them worked for me. About two years ago, I started to see a therapist on some unrelated issues who also ran some quit smoking programs. If it had not been for his help and planning my quit and talking through to him and my support net (friends and family), I would have never made it. I hated to have to rely on outside assistance, but I can't argue with results. I just try to stay afraid of cigarettes so I'm never beholden to that addiction again.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Bill

    Read that the e-cigarette did not work for him. Too bad. I've had one for the better part of a year now, and I finally worked my way down from 35 mg nicotine solution to 5 mg nicotine solution. In the next few months I'm hoping to be at the 0 solution or not using the e-cig at all.

    Everyone has a different success story for how they quit, and what works for some people doesn't work for others, and vice-versa.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. bootlegg

    If you really cant quit, you are ultimately WEAK and have no one to blame but yourself. Don't sugar coat it, you are weak and have no self-discipline. If you want to stop smoking, STOP IT. If you want to lose weight, DONT EAT. Our American society has turned into a bunch of man-babies.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Andrew

    For all you people who say "why don't you just stop?", it's really not that simple. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances there is (even more so than heroin), and just going cold turkey is INSANELY difficult. I'm currently 33, and I've been smoking now for 20 years. I've tried quitting numerous times (cold turkey, the patch several times) – the longest I've gone is 6 months, and that was on my first attempt. I find subsequent attempts last for less and less time. I feel the pain of the author of the article because I've BEEN there. I hope I can quit before it kills me (I've known several people who it HAS killed, sadly).

    January 31, 2012 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Shannon D

    I smoked for 12 years after starting at 7 years old and quiting at 19. I was quit for 19 years, but the last six years I would allow myself a cigar once every 4 to 6 months while I was traveling away from home. It was my dirty little secret that I didn't share with my family. I had some sinus issues arise along with sleep apnea and allergies. My wife and I split and I started smoking regularly to deal with the stress for a year. I quit smoking on our first court appearance for the divorce. It has been four months since I have smoked. It is one day at a time and I don't beat myself up.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Keksi

    Cold Turkey-as simple as that.
    I did it and if I can anybody can.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Thoimas Koshy

    Went to Father Antony. Told him in confession that I want to quit. I really did want to. He put his hand on me, prayed and since havent ever felt the desire. No desire.!!!!!!!!!! I smoked for 15 years. I couldnt quit myself for more than 36 hours.
    I am not joking here.!!!


    January 31, 2012 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply

    I am 52. Smoked since I was 13. Tried quitting a few times but always found an excuse to have a smoke here and there, then I'd be back full time. Then I'd be bummed at myself for not having the strength to quit. I finally convinced myself that the cigarette was stronger than me.
    5 years ago I caught the worst flu I ever had, probably should have went to the hospital. So sick that I just laid there, too sick to even smoke, for 6 days. (You smokers know what I'm talking about; when you're too sick to smoke, you're pretty sick!) During that time I convinced myself that this was my last chance to quit since that was the longest I'd ever went without smoking in 30-some years! So I vowed to see how long I could keep the streak going. Luckily, I haven't had a smoke since, not once. The urges went away after about the 2 year mark, but it wasn't as bad as I thought, and it was rewarding to keep the streak going.
    One other thing I think helped me was that I also convinced myself that if I ever lit up a smoke again, I'd die. Not right there on the spot, but that I was so hooked on smokes that I'd never be able to quit again and die hacking up a lung. Not trying to condescend or lecture, just telling how I quit, cold turkey. Hope this helps, and good luck to anyone trying to quit. Definitely worth it to quit!!

    January 31, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. PrivateRyan

    The biggest mistake is to advertise the electronic cigarette as a "quit smoking" rather than better alternative smoking or actually vaping. I was able more than a year ago to switch to e-cig and I hate real cigarette now. If you can quit smoking do it without hesitation, if not, may be you should thing about e-cig. My biggest concern about e-cig is the quality because there is no clear regulations about the materials being used. Anyone who say to ban e-cig is an idiot with no heart. Quitting is not something we don't want but we can't always do. I for an instance challenge anyone who smoke and went to what I get through, to quit. E-cig may not be perfectly healthy, but for sure they are much healthier than cig, not to mention the smell.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. MarylandGirl

    As I approach my 8 year quit date this April, I read stories like this with a strange fascination. I was able to use a step-down cigarette called "Quest" back in the day that started with low, then ultra-low and then nicotine free. It was fairly easy for me and I've never looked back. I also realize that it isn't that easy for others. There are real stressful situations that trigger cravings and cigarettes are extremely addictive. They just happen to smell and burn and non-smokers don't want to be around them. Just like a Vicodin, Xanax or alcoholic, it's another drug that is difficult to quit. I am living proof that it can be done, but it's a different situation for each person. Good luck to the OP.

    January 31, 2012 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Diggity Dave

    Chantix makes quitting so easy it's ridiculous. I quite 15 years ago cold turkey, stupidly starting smoking again for two months about a year ago, and used Chantix to quit. The difference in both experiences was very far apart. Chantix is one of the most amazing drugs, ever.

    January 31, 2012 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Red

    I'm trying to quit right now because I can't afford it. It's putting me in debt. I bought a bag of loose tobacco and a cheap corn cob pipe. I'm a woman. Although I'm taking in more tar because it's not filtered I seem to be more satisfied for long periods of time using the pipe. I want to switch to Natural American Spirit Tobacco that is non-habit forming to get rid of the nicotine addiction. I actually like the "smoke" part of smoking and I really only want to smoke in the morning with my coffee and one at night after diner. I know I can't smoke that pipe out in Public being a woman, but who smokes in public now anyways?

    January 31, 2012 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. tonyola

    I had been smoking for 35+ years since I was in my early teens. Then one day in spring 2006, I had some chest pains and went to the emergency room – was subsequently admitted for two days of heart tests and observation. What a hellish experience. Fortunately, I only had a mild case of angina with no evidence of heart damage. However, it put enough of a scare into me that I quit smoking cold turkey upon leaving the hospital. The first couple months of quitting were awful, but the alternative seemed worse, and that's where I found the willpower and resolve to go through with it. I've now been tobacco-free for six years without cheating even once. I still miss smoking but I don't want to go through the trauma of quitting again, so I'm not tempted to restart. Plus (knock on wood), I've had no further heart problems (confirmed by doctors) since quitting.

    Rick, I hope you can find whatever it takes within you to quit, and there's no shame in getting help in the process.

    January 31, 2012 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick Morris

      Tonyola, I'm proud of you and can't wait until my 1 year anniversary. I have to say that I can't believe the response I've received on this blog. I've been reading through some of them and welcome all comments. What I can tell everyone out there is I have no faith in any of the (what I call) gimmicks, such as patches, gum, e-cig, drugs, etc. Your most powerful tool for quitting is to fully understand your reasons for smoking, how/why you started, etc. The only way to do that is by attending a class for smoking cessasation. They are usually free, or minimally priced. I think you'll all learn something that will "spark" you to really call it quits. Thanks for your comment, Tonyola. Rick...

      February 6, 2012 at 00:07 | Report abuse |
  45. Jeremy Williams

    Hi Rick. Hope you see this, I want to congratulate you and also offer you a free account at http://quitjuice.com. Studies show that supportive text messages double quit rates. Hit me up jeremy at quitjuice dot com and I'll get you set up. Go for the gold!

    January 31, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Mark

    Funny, I think that tobacco is not a controlled substance. Heroin is. Heck, just about every drug that has addictive properties – is. So, why not tobacco?

    Before I get jumped on...I smoke. In the last couple of years, the impact of smoking for 35 years is making itself quite apparent. I've done patches, cold turkey, wellbutrin – and at best only had a few months success. Today, I'm hating the habit again. I rationalize I could save $200 a month when I quit.

    Which takes me back to the controlled substance. First off, there is absolutely zero 'health' or 'medical' benefits to be found in tobacco (notice I did not say smoking). For those that want to know – the answer isn't pretty. Powerful lobbyists. Money.Government revenue. Money. And, being that smokers generally die earlier – saved money in SS benefits.

    So, it all eats at me. I know I need help to quit. And I know I got to do it.

    January 31, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      Sorry – missed some punctuation. Opening line should be: Funny, I think, that tobacco....

      January 31, 2012 at 21:08 | Report abuse |
    • Rick Morris

      Mark, I don't really now what to tell you other than give it another try. Come and quit along with me. I tossed them after my last one Friday morning. Three days later, I can actually breathe and sleep well at night. More importantly, as I've said in the past, I want to live to be 100. I want to enjoy my great-grandchildren. I want to have a quality of life. Keep me informed if you do give it another go. And, let me know how it's going. Really, go check out a smoking cessasation class. I found something there that gave me a reason to stop. I'm guessing you will as well. And, don't be imtimidated by the quit date. Best. Rick...

      February 6, 2012 at 00:13 | Report abuse |
  47. Lenny

    I was a smoker for 40 years. I quit immediately upon becoming pregnant with each of my two children. Then returned to the habit sometime after each birth. Saw the price of each pack go from 19 cents to over 6 dollars. I managed to quit several more times and used every method known to man. I quit for good six months ago. I used the patch but used each level twice as long as recommended. I still use nicotine gum when a particularly strong craving hits but now that is rare. There are still and probably always will be times when Ii think "a smoke would taste SO GOOD right now." But tobacco no longer has control of my life. Be strong....you can do it!

    January 31, 2012 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Ann Wilson

    The antidepressant drug Wellbutrin has helped many people quit smoking, I hear. I only smoked a total of
    6 years on and off in my life back in my twenties and early thirties. I once smoked as much as 3 packs a day.
    I quit back in 1982. I believe this was before the cigarette companies made cigarettes even more addictive with additives. But I still dream at least once or twice a week that I am going down to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes and I dream of smoking!!

    January 31, 2012 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Jennifer

    ALL you need to do is read Allen Carr's Easy Way to Quit Smoking. Check out the reviews of this book – it's unreal. Listen, I'm a librarian, and even I couldn't understand how a BOOK could help someone stop smoking, but people were telling me over and over again that it worked. And it DID! I loooooooved to smoke. Loved it. Have been smoke-free for a long time. You need to read this book – you even continue to smoke while you read it. He addresses every single thing you wrote about! It is truly a life-changing book!

    January 31, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. JFKman

    I haven't smoked in over 20 years, and it is one of the highlights of my life. I am proud to not smoke and I have a healthy outlook and am able to run 1/2 marathon and maybe a marathon...
    I stopped this last time after 20 years of smoking by using the patch, changing friends and routines radically, and talking about it with the people I love. I have a wife and child and I won't let cancer take away the good life I have like it it did to the rest of my family.

    Be positive, you can do it. It is hard, but the things that are worth having in life usually are worth fighting for.

    January 31, 2012 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.