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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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 🙁

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Edith says:

Another tip is to start an exercise program when you are quitting smoking. After you finish your workout, you dare not have a cigarette as you will choke on the first drag. It should discourage you from having a cigarette for awhile, and by that time you will be busy doing something else.

Mr. Jones says:

I would suggest getting a copy of Allan Carr’s ‘Easy Way to Quit Smoking.’ I quit a bit over 2 months ago after smoking for 10 years. I had never tried quitting before this and had adamantly and brazenly declared to people numerous times over the last decade that I never would. I’m a bit of an odd case in the fact I was a smoker who kept very physically active my entire life. This might have made things a bit tougher at the beginning, as I associated almost everything in my life with having a cigarette, even healthy pursuits. Your boyfriend may not have the same range of triggers to overcome. Regardless, I can’t stress the importance of having some kind of physical outlet to channel your energy into. While I was active before, there has been a *radical* improvement in my energy levels since I quit. While I’ve had some tough moments, I’ve actually enjoyed the process of quitting because of the positive changes I’ve become aware of.

You made mention of nagging your boyfriend. I’m sure this was just a figure of speech on your part, but I’ll go ahead and state the obvious that this type of negative reinforcement is probably *not* going to help. Case in point, my ex partner nagged me for quite some time about quitting. All it did was make me dig my heels in further and resent being prodded in the first place. Back in January, a had dinner with some friends and one of them – a longtime, hardcore smoker – announced he had quit 5 month ago when he saw me going outside to light up. He asked – unobtrusively – if I was interested in hearing his take on things. He never pressured me or suggested that I should quit. He simply and eloquently explained his decision and said I should borrow Carr’s book and give it a read. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? You read the book and decide not to quit. It’s a quick read.” My friend’s guidance, and seeing the transformation of a co-worker who genuinely became happier after quitting sealed the deal for me.

young says:

@Mr Jones- Thanks so much for your comment. Boyfriend has been smoke free (he had one slip up because he ate too many Krispy Kreme donuts and felt too full) for the past few weeks. I hope he keeps it up. If he doesn’t, I’ll look into getting him that book you mentioned. It sounds good.

Mr.Jones says:

Wow… I totally forgot I put a comment here!

I was commenting to a friend yesterday about how I found it really bizarre how I used to be a smoker. We were having this talk ascending a peak in a backcountry area, midway through a ski mountaineering trip. Smoke free for two years now, and there have been some pretty major life changes along with it. I continue to recommend Alan Carr’s book. Changed my life.

With the costs of cigarettes continuing to rise and the health care costs associated with it rising as well, quitting is a no-brainer.

young says:

@Edwin- Yup! Easier said than done though.

Jackie says:

These are some really great tips for anyone trying to kick the habit. I think a very important component is a support system of friends and family in place. This support system can help one through the harder times when you really want to smoke or even as simple as not smoking around you when you are trying to quit. I have had friends that will buy lollipops for the times they want a cigarette or chew a piece of gum.

young says:

@Jackie- Yes, a great point. I think it’s important to support those who are quitting, but at the same time, not be too ‘overbearing’ too (which often drove my boyfriend to smoke some more lol).

Mom is a pretty conservative thinker (being a nurse, Western medicine = King) so I’m not sure she would be up for those possible solutions. Might be worth a try though.

young says:

@My University Money- You’d be surprised how “holistic” western medicine is now. It’s definitely more mainstream (case in point- the medical services plan for BC covers Acupuncture if you’re of low income).

Ravi Gupta says:

My grandfather died because of smoking. I never touched the stuff as a result but I did smoke hookah everyonce in a while. I’m such an exercise junkie that I didn’t keep up with hookah smoking. I’ve been reading a lot about this type of cigarette replacements that lets you take in water vapor. You might want to look into that for your boyfriend.

-Ravi Gupta

young says:

@Ravi Gupta- Sorry to hear about your grandfather 🙁 I tried a hookah pipe when I was in Vietnam- it was green apple flavoured tobacco. I can see why it can be addictive (flavoured bubbly tobacco?). Great suggestion, Ravi. My boyfriend did try the water vapor cigarettes, you have to buy a cartridge, I believe and you get nicotine in the cartridge. I think he didn’t like the taste of the nicotine when he inhaled… I believe that’s why he gave up that time.

Country Girl says:

I hope your bf comes around and is able to quit soon. My Dad quit smoking five or six years ago cold turkey (it’s kind of hard to remember him smoking now). What he found difficult about quitting was ‘forgetting’ the actual motions of smoking. He used drinking straws and toothpicks to help keep his his hands busy and away from those nasty cigarettes.

young says:

@Country Girl- Yeah, it’s so much about habit, isn’t it? I’m happy to hear your dad quit smoking 5-6 years ago- what was his motivation to quit? I’m happy to report (well, crossing my fingers), that after I sent my boyfriend the “Smober Up” youtube videos, he was motivated to quit again (for himself and his reason is to feel more fit and less winded) and bought one of those nicotine inhalers. Hope this is it!

Untemplater says:

Thanks for posting this. My father was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year, a form of cancer almost always caused by long term smoking. He’d smoked since he was 10 and tried so many times to quit but never succeeded. Unfortunately it took getting cancer for him to quit, but he finally has kicked the habit and is on the road to recovery. I hope those of you who are trying to quit won’t have to go through what he did. Without going into detail here, bladder cancer treatments and surgeries are especially painful for men, and nobody should have to lose parts to smoking.

young says:

@Untemplater- I’m sorry to hear about your father’s cancer, but I’m happy to hear he is on the road to recovery. Oftentimes it takes having a huge shocking diagnosis for those who are smokers to give them the onus to make behavioral changes.

My mom is a nurse who has ironically smoked her whole life. She has tried every product numerous times and nothing quite seems to stick. I attribute the lack of success to her workaholic/addictive personality.

As a high school teacher I love showing kids the example that they could be a millionaire by age 60 if they just gave up cigarettes. By showing how a pack day smoker could put that money in the bank and invest it (using conservative numbers) the kids see a huge material benefit to not smoking. Without realizing they also get a lesson in the power of compound interest! Win-Win.

young says:

@My University Money- That’s great that you are setting an example for the kids that you teach AND teaching them a financial lesson. There isn’t enough financial information being taught to students these days, and I’m happy to hear you are taking the initiative to change that. Definitely win-win situation, you know I’m a fan of those! 😉 Has your mom tried accupuncture or hypnosis? I wonder if those are effective in people who’ve tried everything else.

Helly says:

@Her Every Cent: Yes, and someday they will spend all that saved amount plus much more, in medical bills to treat not only emphysema or lung cancer, but side effects of poor nutrition.

I don’t smoke, but have friends who do, who tell me they end up saving money because they don’t eat, they just smoke. Now that’s ridiculous, but at the very least it might be true.

young says:

@Her Every Cent Counts- I have a friend who doesn’t want to quit smoking either because she doesn’t want to gain weight. The reasoning is a bit funny though!

Sustainable PF says:

I just reached week 11 of being a non smoker (click my name above for the story!). Still finding it hard.

Went off the zyban after week 7.

Fighting the hard fight.

Jen @ SheBloggs says:

I’ve watched one of my closest friends spent about $75 a month on cigarettes. That’s $900 a year! Sadly, he had to file bankruptcy, but can’t kick this habit and trust me he’s trying.

I was a ‘social smoker’ for years and told myself that as long as I never bought my own pack, I wasn’t a smoker. I caught myself buying a pack one day and totally freaked out. I haven’t smoked since and that was years ago.

I sympathize with people trying to quit though, I can imagine how hard it is.


young says:

@Jen- You also sound like you had good self reflection and insight into your social smoking! Perhaps setting boundaries with yourself is the way to go (e.g. telling yourself that it was okay because you weren’t buying your own cigarettes).

$75 a month is like about two packs a week.. and that’s already $900 a year…can you imagine smoking a pack a day? I don’ t know about your friend, but I would rather go to mexico for $900 then waste it on cancer sticks 😉

MoneyCone says:

Good tips young! I have no basis for comparison but I’m sure it isn’t easy quitting. Thankfully I never got into this habit.

young says:

@MoneyCone- yeah, I can’t relate to my boyfriend, but seeing him struggle with quitting is pretty hard.

Helly says:

No amount of nagging from me will help 🙁

Yeah, as you pointed out, only the affected person can truly effect change, and then only if he truly wants to. Not just “oh, it would be nice” want to, but really “dedicated, I must do this” want to. That whole lead-a-horse-to-water analogy and all.

I’ve never smoked, myself, but hubby has been smoke-free for nearly 14 years. He realized what a toll the smoking was having on his overall mental well-being (made him depressed, got worse grades at uni, etc) and decided to go cold turkey.

A friend of mine from college told me that when he was a toddler, he picked up a cigarette butt from his dad’s ashtray and ATE it. His dad was aghast, and hasn’t smoked a cigarette since. You never know where the motivation to quit comes from! 🙂

young says:

@Helly- Yeah so true– I’ve been trying to get him to switch his mentality from “I’ll try” to “I will do it”. I know he wants to quit, but he just needs more determination. I think it makes my boyfriend depressed too, irritable, and sick easily.

Your friend as a toddler was brilliant! That sounds very effective– if I was a smoker and saw my child eat one of my cigarette butts, I would be appalled. One of the ladies in the youtube videos I showed my boyfriend said what made her quit was her 8 year old son picking up a cigarette and pretending to smoke and imitate her… definitely very eye opening.

SavingMentor says:

I’ve been very fortunate to have never smoked a day in my life. Especially since my mom smoked for many years and eventually quit and my dad, who is 60, still smokes to this day!

young says:

@SavingMentor- Has your mom tried to get your dad to quit? 😉 It’s hard when one person is motivated to quit, and the spouse isn’t 🙁

Echo says:

My dad smoked for years and then had a heart attack at 50. He doesn’t smoke any more (thankfully).

When I was in University I smoked when we went out drinking (just bummed them off of friends), which led to me buying my own packs for the bar, which eventually led to smoking when I wasn’t drinking. Once I realized that it was getting that bad I quit cold turkey.

I think that part of beating the addiction is breaking away from the habits of when (and where) you like to enjoy your cigarettes the most. Once Alberta banned smoking in the bars and restaurants I stopped craving them there too.

I also worked in an industry where everyone smoked on their breaks, so it was easy to fall into the habit with them. When I left that job to more of an office job, again it became easier.

As a single income family now I could never justify the cost of buying cigarettes. And with a young daughter I wouldn’t even want to pick her up knowing that I reeked of smoke.

young says:

@Echo- That’s really good that you had the insight and self reflection ability to stop and think about how bad your smoking habit/casual smoking was getting! That takes a lot of guts and self discipline…BC banned smoking in the bars and restaurants, too…it is such a breath of fresh air. Now when I travel to different parts of the world, I am not accustomed to the smoky bars and clubs and restaurants! We are so lucky in Canada 🙂

Boyfriend used to smoke with colleagues on break, but then the past two jobs, no one knows that he smokes. I think that when you do have colleagues or classmates (if one is in school) who smoke, it’s much harder to quit because your’e surrounded by people who smoke and also you associate the smoking with social situations and acceptance.

andy says:

Its not easy,trust me .It hard than said so,need all help to cured the smoke habits

Thanks goodness I never took up smoking. I think I had two cigarettes when I was young and that was it. 🙂
Never got into it. Such a bad/expensive habit.

young says:

@retirebyforty- Definitely very lucky! I think it’s important not to get into it when you’re young, because that’s the easiest time to get hooked!