On quitting smoking

smokes

With New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, I thought I’d do a little write up about one of the more common (yet often broken) resolutions made every December 31st. The one I’m talking about is quitting smoking. I’ve been a regular smoker since I was about 19 or 20 and I’ve tried a few methods to quit. Some stuck, some did not, and some worked better than expected. This past year I gave it up again and hopefully it will be the last time and would like to share what worked the best for me.

As a little background, I began smoking later in life than most. This was mostly due to reaching drinking age and heading to the bar with friends when I turned 19. It was the mid 2000s and more people smoked back then. So after some drinks and joining friends outside for a smoke at the bar (smoking indoors was banned entirely) I occasionally was given one by a friend. Eventually I craved a smoke even when I wasn’t at the bar and in time it became a regular habit. While there are certainly more negative effects than positive ones, a smoke never failed to temporarily relieve stress and it helped me through some tough times, so I never really considered quitting.

As I grew older, somewhere around the mid 2010s, I decided I wanted to quit. There were a few factors that led to this. One was the stench or it. Two was the negative physical consequences, such as throat irritation and lung capacity. Three was the threat of permanent serious physical consequences such as lung cancer. And fourth was the cost. While the adverse health effects SHOULD be the ultimate reason to quit, the driving factor for me was the money as I’m a fairly frugal person. After I began doing my personal full cycle accounting, I saw just how much it was costing me. My pack a day habit was setting me back $300 per month which is a nice $3,600 per year. So with that figure at the front of my mind I decided to attempt to quit. Since that first attempt to quit, I’ve been on and off smoking for a few years now. At one point I even quit smoking for two full years but still found myself going back to it. So below is a list of what worked and what did not.

What did not work for me:

– Cold turkey. As delicious as this method sounds, it did not work beyond a day or two. All the power to those strong willed folks that go this route, but I found that I became quit irritated and could not last long without a cigarette given the high levels of nicotine in my system. If you smoke a pack a day I do not recommend this route, but given that the price is completely free it may be worth a shot and see how you do.

– The patch and gum. I found that even the strongest patch could help me for only a week or so. I first tried the patch alone, but I ended up caving after a few days. I combined it with the gum, so that the patch kept a constant flow of nicotine and I would rely on the gum for whenever I had a major craving. I would recommend this method if you’re a light smoker but ultimately this did not help me quit for a long period of time, it did help though my reducing my smoking significantly when I was using both.

What did work for me:

– Champix/Chantix medication. I used this to quit for the two years as mentioned above. It’s a three month treatment of two pills a day and you can continue smoking until day 30. There are some side effects though that some people experience such as crazy nightmares and stomach cramps. Over time it makes you detest even the smell of a cigarette. I was lucky and did not have any side effects and was able to stop smoking completely, even though up to day 30 I smoked a pack a day. Day 31 I was at zero and stayed there for a couple of years. Highly recommend for heavy smokers provided the side effects are not severe for you, also many insurance companies (or work benefits) cover this medication so it can be free for some people.

– Vaping. My most recent method to quitting and surprisingly my favourite. The route I went with was starting with 35mg nicotine and going down a step each time I finished the bottle. Went to 24mg, then 12mg, 6mg, 3mg, and eventually nicotine free. By the time I was in my third month of vaping I was nicotine free. A big factor as to why I liked this method the best was because it gave me something the other methods couldn’t; the habit of smoking. Cold turkey, patch, gum, or medication all gave me my nicotine fix, but man did I miss taking a smoke break and going outside while at work. Also as mentioned above, the amount of nicotine you receive can be controlled closely which is a nice benefit. Vaping is also significantly cheaper than buying packs of smokes. I would highly recommend this method for light or heavy smokers.

There are other methods to quitting smoking, but I feel I can only comment on the ones that I’ve actually tried. The most important piece of advice that I can give to all smokers hoping to quit is simply keep trying. Try different methods and find what works for you. If you quit for a little while and then fall back into it, don’t take that as a negative. Focus on the fact that maybe you quit for six months and saved a lot of money during that time frame and then try quitting again when you’re ready.

I hope that this may help some smokers stick to their resolution, or perhaps it helps someone decide that now is the time to quit. Or maybe gave someone an idea on a method they haven’t tried yet. If this article helps one person quit it was worth writing. All the power to you with this resolution in 2020.

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