You know the feeling well.

The familiar urge to light up a cigarette. It’s become such a habit, you don’t even think about it.

But the habit is hard-wired into your brain.

Get up in the morning, have a cigarette. Drive to work, have a cigarette. Take a 10 minute break – have a cigarette. Go to lunch – have a cigarette afterwards.

The triggers for your smoking never seem to end.

For some it’s a non-stop “chain” of having one after another. For others, they smoke through habit or to vanquish stress, celebrate good times or just because they feel they deserve it.

You want to quit, but it doesn’t seem to work.

If you’re ready and would like to “kick the habit,” once and for all, this post is for you.

I’ve assembled all the facts and all the tips you need right here, in one place. We’ll examine whether pharmaceutical drugs can help you quit and we’ll hear from medical experts who’ll give you their advice.

And to top it all off, we’re collecting case studies from people just like you who’ve given up smoking. You’ll hear their stories and maybe one of them will inspire you to give it another try yourself.

Let’s begin.

Background Facts

If you’re a smoker, you know you’re not alone.

The Center for Disease Control  estimates that  42.1 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, as of 2013.

That’s 17.8% of the adult population.

Smoking and Disease

In addition to being the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, cigarette smoking is known to have a damaging link to other respiratory diseases, reproduction, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

With so many facts stacked against smoking, why do people still do it?

Why Do People Smoke?

Perhaps the first question should be, “Why do people start smoking?”

In a 1994 Boston Globe interview, Donna Houston, then 38, said she started smoking to calm her nerves and then it became a habit.

In the same article, Lee Wolfenden who was 37 at the time explained that he enjoyed it, saying, “it’s relaxing…and it tastes good.”

Worlded.org states three main reasons why young people start smoking:

  1. To look mature
  2. Peer pressure
  3. Experimentation

What begins as an innocent experiment, often becomes an addiction.

As the CDC Study points out, those who start smoking, usually continue.

Why Can’t People Quit Smoking?

According to Jed Rose, the director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation , the chemicals in cigarettes work on the structures deep within a smoker’s brain, literally rewiring it so the habit becomes deeply ingrained.

This is explained in much greater detail by Sindhuja Vijayaraghavan on Quora.

In short, he says nicotine triggers the release of dopamine, the pleasure center in our brain. We crave the mild “high” we feel when our pleasure center is triggered and we want more of it.

Says, Mike Munter, “Just getting into the car to drive somewhere triggered the memory, ‘It’s time for a cigarette.’ So, that led to at least four cigarettes per day, one each on the commute to and from work and two more on the way to and from lunch.

“The associations became engrained and were very difficult to break.”

Methods For Quitting Smoking

Investigate each of the below and any other methods.

Drugs

Cover any drugs on the market and get into side effects. This would be a good place for a doctor quote. 2 I know of are-

  • Chantix
  • Zyban

Cold Turkey

How effective is this? What research has been done online?

Hypnosis

Include quote from hypnotherapist and any market research that shows whether or not this works.

Other Methods

Review a few other methods including and share research to show whether they work or not.

  • Gums
  • The patch
  • Vapor cigarettes

Case Studies: 7 Stories From Those Who Quit

NOTE: All 7 people we find will be asked to complete the 5 questions below and supply a photo or link to Facebook page. I want real people, no anonymous stories. We are looking to inspire people to quit.

Mike Munter – Portland, Oregon

Age Started Smoking: 20

Age Quit Smoking: 41

Why did you start smoking?

It was fun and gave me something to do when I was bored. Plus it was a great way to meet girls.

It’s weird that I even started smoking because my Mom smoked most of her life and I can remember as a kid that the house always smelled of smoke. I hated her second hand smoke and always asked her to quit.

So, for me to start was really hypocritical.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

Once I quit for about a year. Then I went through a really stressful week at work and decided to have a cigarette to celebrate. That’s all it took and I was smoking regularly again.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

I was praying for a reason to quit. I was asking for a reason to give it up.

A while after this, my Mom had to go into the hospital for what was supposed to be a routine procedure. They were going to take a lung biopsy to see why she was having trouble breathing.

After the procedure, she couldn’t breathe and became disoriented.

My Dad called to tell me it was serious, that Mom was only breathing with the help of a machine and she was staying in the hospital.

I knew it that moment that was the “reason” I had been asking for.

I crumbled up my unfinished pack of camels and never smoked again.

Unfortunately, my Mom never got out of the hospital. She died 5 weeks later from lung disease.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

The urge to smoke is just like any other craving we get. You don’t have to give in to that urge because it will pass. I still get the urge from time to time, but I know it will pass and the longer it’s been since I’ve quit, the easier it is to pass on the urge to smoke.

I’d also like to share the video below which I wrote and recorded for a friend who wanted to quit, but was looking for a reason. Instead of sharing the story I just shared above, I made her this video, which I thought my have more of an emotional impact.

Russ Halberg – Hillsboro, Oregon

Age Started Smoking: 13, addicted at 19

Age Quit Smoking: 32

Why did you start?

I started due to peer pressure and curiosity.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

I tried twice  to quit before I was successful.

How were you finally able to quit for good? What advice would you give others trying to quit?

I had difficulty finding a competent physician for my back injury. I finally found a physiatrist. He laid it on the line. “Every cell in your body is poisoned” he said.

I began lap swimming for my back. This made quitting easier, since smoking interfered with good swimming.

Every time I craved a cigarette, I started singing John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” to myself. Sometimes I would listen to the song. My back condition improved dramatically with quitting smoking.

Roger Hancock – Portland, Oregon

Age Started Smoking: 16

Age Quit Smoking: 30

Why did you start smoking?

Don’t know, really. I guess a desire to experience everything and make my own judgement call. The first time buying a pack of my own, I was 21.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

Maybe, once. Never really tried, just would reduce intake. Went from a pack a day to a pack every couple of days, before the big stop.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

I was at a party, and I had been trying to limit my intake, so I was making my own decision about when I would have one.

After about 30 minutes hanging out, I decided that it would be ok to have one, now. But, when I reached to get one, I noticed that I actually had one going already.

So, I put it out and told myself, I wouldn’t have another for at least an hour.

After some time had passed, I decided it was finally time to have that smoke, but when I went to get the pack, I noticed that I already had one going (again).

So, I put it out and gave my pack to my friend, who asked, “You don’t want them?”

I replied, “Not in my pocket, nope.”

Then I stopped buying them. It was scary, to me, that my hands and mouth were in on this habit, without my brain being a part of the conversation. That was motivation enough to quit.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

Start small. Moderate your intake, first. Once you can do that, you can stop.

Mary L. – Las Vegas, Nevada

Age Started Smoking: 14

Age Quit Smoking: 49

Why did you start smoking?

It was the cool thing back then.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

Maybe 20 times.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

How were you finally able to quit for good?

I decided I hated  coughing all the time. My hair smelled nasty and I was spending a lot of money.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

You have to be committed. No, “Well, I”ll try.”

Go cold turkey so you rid yourself completely of all toxins which reduce cravings.

Cravings pass quickly if you just grab a glass of water and go for a quick walk.

Take yoga…I swear it works. I lost 15 lbs. when I quit because I walked, did yoga and drank a lot of water.

If you fall off the wagon, no big deal. DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP.

Quit again and eventually it works. Avoid bars and stay as far away from smoking sections as possible.

GOOD LUCK…I’ve not had a puff in 8 years and feel great!

Doug – Denton, Texas

Age Started Smoking: 16

Age Quit Smoking: 36

Why did you start smoking?

I can’t remember.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

3 times.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

Cold turkey.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

Truely admit to yourself you are addicted and that once you quit you cannot ever smoke again, not even a drag.

Then quit. It takes 3 days to get past the addiction, so if you can hold out then any urges are easily managed.

Don’t hate on others that choose to continue to smoke and do not try to avoid being around those that do smoke. Be honest with yourself, love yourself, and don’t be a hypocrite.

Cody – St. George, Utah

Age Started Smoking: 19

Age Quit Smoking: 34

Why did you start?

I wanted to have an addiction because I was curious.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

I don’t look at my quitting attempts as failures. I may have started smoking again, but I also had a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Most people who quit for good have tried many times and learned something.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

I was able to quit after being employed as a smoking cessation counselor. One of my first clients was an older woman who was terrified that she would not see her grandchildren grow up. The fear and pain in her voice was overwhelming.

I realized that I could be her; any of us could be her. I knew I had to try again.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

The key to success is simply keeping the desire alive to quit and never giving up on yourself.

As a smoking cessation counselor, I spoke to another woman who was dying of lung cancer. The hospice staff was literally carrying her out of her room to smoke every other hour.

She made the decision to quit. It wasn’t going to save her life, but she wanted to die having mastered her addiction. She faced her circumstances with courage and determination. You can do the same.

As far as practical advice, there is a ton of that available. Everyone is going to tell you the right way to quit. There is no right way to quit. There is only your way. You know yourself best.

Work with what you know. What is going to be difficult for you? What has tripped you up before? What times and places really make you want to smoke? What will you do when you really want to smoke? Do you need nicotine replacement therapy?  You can get it for free in some states by calling 1-800-Quit-Now.

Maybe your insurance will pay for something. Maybe you don’t need help. Only you know for sure.

Above all, be gentle. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t tell yourself you can’t. Or that you failed. Or that you are weak. You have a really terrible addiction.

Acknowledge the reality  of this situation. Give yourself some credit for trying, trying, trying. If you are reading this, congratulate yourself. You care enough to put some effort into your attempt. Good for you!

If you fall back on the way, learn something. Engage the power of your mind. Imagine yourself as a non-smoker. See yourself living without it. It is as beautiful as you think it will be.

I promise that you will never regret quitting.

Gavin O’Malley – Upstate New York

Age Started Smoking: 13

Age Quit Smoking: 62

 

Why did you start smoking?

I had my first smoke when I was 13…Lucky Strikes…cost 25 cents a pack. I was modeling after an older dude who I admired.

How many times did you try to quit unsuccessfully?

I tried to quit a few times but it never stuck…I even had 5 years of being free and then I thought I could have one..20 years later I was still smoking.

I only bought a carton of smokes a few times because I was always going to quit tomorrow and having multiple packs of smokes made me smoke more.

I switched to a pipe twice but always went back to the cigs.

I always said I only smoked a pack a day but the last few years I was buying two packs a day.

How were you finally able to quit for good?

I smoked for close to 50 years until I tried acupuncture…and this time it worked…I am free…it has been 6 years now.

What advice do you have for others trying to quit?

There is more than one path up the mountain…try them all until you find your way.

Additional Tips For Quitting Smoking

This can just be a list of tips for quitting smoking that we find from around the web. The idea is to find lists of tips and create 1 master list as a resource for people trying to quit.

FAQ / Resources

Not sure what to put here, perhaps ethnic/gender info or maybe home-made chart or infographic people could embed on their website. Or, we may skip FAQ.

This could also be a resource section that includes programs such as http://www.picturequitting.org/ and others. Again, would take research to create a nice complete list.

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