Smoking is likely one of the hardest addictions to quit. Many people are unable to quit cold turkey, and are unable to quit the first try. At $10 a pack of cigarettes (here in Canada anyway), the cost can add up.
My boyfriend has smoked about 3 cigarettes or so a day since he was 15. He has tried to quit numerous times with some varying success. Hopefully he will be able to kick the can this time around. He has tried setting a quit date, taking bupropion (called Wellbutrin or Zyban), and thought he quit for good when he was still sneaking in cigarillos (the flavoured cigars which are now thankfully banned in Canada). I think that the most important thing is to want to quit smoking. If you are not ready to quit smoking, or even contemplate quitting smoking, then the chance of success will be smaller.
I used to smoke in high school (a few cigarettes a week for a year during my rebellious phase) because I thought it was “cool”. Boy was I a big-time loser for thinking that. Thankfully I realized I was being an idiot and stopped shortly thereafter.
Here are some tips on how to quit smoking:
- Calculate the Cost Savings: There's a calculator on Quit Now (a smoking cessation website) that shows you how much you would save weekly, yearly, in 5 years, and in 10 years if you quit smoking now. This will hopefully trigger you to want to quit smoking. I calculated that my boyfriend will save $547 a year if he quits smoking his 3 cigarettes a day. If one smokes a pack a day, the cost savings are even more significant- $3650! That is two trips to Thailand or an entire month-long trip to Mt Kilimanjaro (with Zanzibar on the side). And this is after tax income too. That's almost $4000 pretax if one smokes a pack a day. Now that's significant!
- Think about your health– 50% of deaths in smokers are attributable to a smoking related illness (be it lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease etc.). Your skin gets more wrinkled, you get less oxygen to your blood (and eventually may develop blood vessel disease in which the blood flow doesn't get through to your toes and fingers, they die and become mummified, and you will have to amputate), and your loved ones will have less time on this earth to spend with you.
- Think about your loved ones– Exposure to second hand smoke has severe consequences for those who breathe it. Exposing your child or your spouse to second hand smoke is more harmful to them than you.
- Now that you want to quit, set a quit date. I think quit dates are quite important as it is a goal you have set for yourself, and if you tell others, you are more likely to be accountable for it. The more you tell others, the more they will support your decision to quit.
- Write down why you want to quit– Having things in writing helps solidify the goal and make it more of a reality.
- Enlist support– There are free services like BC's QuitNow where you can call a hotline and speak to a counsellor about your quitting or smoking concerns 24 hours a day. You can even set up texts or calls to you as you approach your quit date, a week after the quit date, and a few weeks after that to see how you are doing. There are also online forums you can chat on to talk to others who may be struggling with quitting smoking as well. There are Quitline numbers all across Canada (even in Nunavut!). If you're not into contacting someone and talking about your smoking, Nicorette made this series of Youtube videos tracking 8 Canadians and their journey on smoking cessation, called “Smober Up“. I watched a few episodes, pretty good (but preaching to the converted, obviously). Going to try and make boyfriend watch it too lol.
- You can't do it on your own– It's hard to quit smoking and if you are able to quit cold turkey, good on ya! If not there are many aids that can help.
- Nicotine Replacement– These are nicotine gums, nicotine patches, inhaler, and even lozenges. They can be bought at your drugstore. Oftentimes there are coupons in the mail or online that you can find to save money on their cost. They act by replacing the nicotine in your blood so you don't get the craving. The nicotine isn't so bad, it's the smoke that you inhale that is. Some people chew nicotine gum for years… everyone is different.
- Bupoprion or Zyban/ Wellbutrin– I used to see more advertisements on TV for Zyban but I don't anymore for some reason. It was designed as an antidepressant but they found that it helped people quit smoking too, so now its marketed as a smoking cessation aid too. You take this a few weeks before your quit date and continue on after. It makes you averse to quitting smoking. A lot of extended health benefits cover this drug, so the cost of this becomes much less (like pennies a day). You have to get this drug prescribed to you by a doctor.
- Champix– I see more ads these days for Champix. It's the new kid on the block and has a higher success rate than Zyban for most people, I believe. Usually you take this pill for 12 weeks and it makes smoking less enjoyable for you. You will have to be aware that this medication has had events where there were mood disturbances (same thing for Zyban), so contact your prescriber if you notice any symptoms. This medication should also be covered by extended health benefits from your workplace. You also have to get this drug prescribed to you by a doctor.
Readers, have you ever been addicted to smoking? Any other tips from successful quitters? What have you done with all that money you've saved?
Now, if only my boyfriend will read this post and really think about quitting! No amount of nagging from me will help 🙁