Patches, gum, even drugs—if the standard smoking cessation tools aren't working for you, maybe you need a different plan.
Quitting smoking isn't easy, even with all the products currently on the market. But as writer and former Canadian Living home director Brett Walther found out, having a strategy definitely helps. "As a cancer-stick slave with a half-a-pack-a-day habit for the past six years, I’d figured I would need to stock up on all the costly quitting aids you see splashed across TV screens and newspaper pages. Nicotine gum, patches, those fancy faux ciggies that expel water vapour instead of hydrogen cyanide..." he says. "But all that stuff wasn't for me. It turned out all I needed was a plan. With my strategy in place, I had my last puff a few minutes before midnight on Dec. 31, 2010, and I’ve been smoke-free ever since." Here's how he did it.
1. Accentuate the negative: "As a natural pessimist, this came terribly easy to me. And let’s face it – it’s no challenge to come up with a lengthy list of the drawbacks of smoking: The ever-growing expense of buying cigarettes; shivering outside in the midst of a bone-numbing blizzard to feed your addiction; and, of course, the rancid breath and stained fingers… Ugh. By focusing on what makes smoking such an unattractive and inconvenient habit, quitting can feel like sweet relief instead of a guilty pleasure."
2. Find a smoke-free role model: "I don’t think you’re ever too old to have a role model; someone you look up to. And if there’s someone who fits that bill who’s also shaken the habit, it’s one more reason to find inspiration in his or her achievements."
3. Root out the source of your addiction: "I remain thoroughly convinced that my addiction was 10% chemical-based, and 90% routine-based. What I mean is, I was primarily addicted to what a cigarette represented in my daily routine: namely, a time-out. My real craving wasn’t for nicotine; rather, it was for that little break, and the opportunity to get up from my desk for a few minutes, grab the latest gossip, and enjoy the change in scenery. Recognizing this as one of the contributing causes of my addiction, I still take the same breaks I always did as a smoker, but instead, I’ll take a brisk 10-minute walk, or pop down to the coffee shop. I call it my 'smokeless smoke break.'"
4. Share your plan with a support team: "This one was particularly powerful for me, personally. By telling my friends, family and coworkers exactly when I planned on quitting, and how I would achieve that goal, I knowingly set myself up so that failure would spell utter humiliation. Shame sucks, but it can also be a powerful motivational tool! I knew that the cynics in my inner circles may have had their doubts about my ability to quit cold turkey. I knew they were looking for evidence that I’d fallen off the wagon, and I LOVE them for being suspicious, because it meant they cared and wanted me to succeed. How could I possibly disappoint them after they’d shared their support and enthusiasm for my plan?"
5. Know that help is available: "There are SO many resources out there to help you if you ever find that you’re struggling along the smoke-free path. Involve your family doctor in the process, sign up for the Stop Smoking Challenges on CBC’s Live Right Now website, find a local support group through The Lung Association, call your regional Health Canada Quitline, or consult the wealth of amazing online resources like It’s Canada’s Time to Quit. What worked for me isn’t going to work for everyone. No two “exit strategies” are the same; but I hope that by sharing the strategies that worked for me, you might be inspired to kick this unhealthy habit."