The secret to quitting smoking? Stop

In the mind of any ambitious wellness guru / writer / entrepreneur, I thought I would take this timely opportunity to present my Safe Guide to Quit Smoking this year. As the clock ticks towards midnight on another year of hope, humility and stumbling intentions, I modestly offer my strategy to crush it for good. Attached is my secret formula. The best way to quit smoking is to quit.

Admittedly, as a methodology, it is not particularly exciting. It doesn’t come with mindful meditation exercises to get you started on the “journey” to quit smoking. It also doesn’t offer a plethora of spicy condiments to act as substitutes. I don’t have any reading materials, nicotine inhibitors, or other gadgets, like vapers, to help you. And yet my method is absolutely foolproof. Honestly, he can’t be beat. Quitting smoking is a snap. I promise you it can be done. All it takes is the decision you really want to stop.

It’s been three years since I wrote, a little daringly, about how I had been out of queers for a week. It might have been a bit early to be so confident about my future as a non-smoker, but the announcement at least forced me to make a real attempt. After spending over two decades sucking Marlboros, I had finally realized that smoking wasn’t fancy. It was aging, smelly, and expensive. Plus, I couldn’t stand the thought of triggering my teenage daughter’s own potential habit by leaving unfinished packs of cigarettes around the house.

People like to fabricate hysteria about the act of quitting smoking. Nicotine, they warn, is horribly addictive. We are constantly reminded how many times people fail. Large slices of UK health care services are withdrawal-oriented, with huge budgets and resources allocated to support groups, therapy and aids. Another multibillion-pound industry has been built on the idea that quitting smoking will require new investment – in hypnotherapy or acupuncture, in addiction apps or Allen Carr’s books.

Subsequently, the general narrative around smoking suggests that quitting is inevitably a failure. Which works just as well for the nicotine industry as it does for those who want to thwart it too. More than 5.2 billion cigarettes were consumed worldwide each year in 2019, worth approximately $ 705 billion. The global tobacco cessation market, meanwhile, is expected to reach some $ 64 billion by 2026.

After being told that quitting would be terrible, many smokers are inclined to quit. I had tried and failed before this last effort. But what no one really told me is that stopping isn’t that hard.

The final decision to cut my 10-20 cigarettes a day was like flipping a switch. Instead of continually reminding myself of the queer breaks that I was missing, I just stopped all thinking about them. It really was pretty straightforward. And even in the face of triggers like the pandemic, disruption and family bereavement, I can hand over my heart say that I haven’t smoked a single one. Of course, I hung out with other smokers and sometimes inhaled quite deeply in a smoky room. But with the rare exception of a perfect balmy summer evening, I rarely miss my old friends.

Smoking was out of fashion, but Covid-19 has seen consumption increase again. Although the UK plans to ban smoking by 2030, Cancer Research UK found in August that the number of 18-34 year olds who identified themselves as smokers had increased by a quarter: 652,000 more young adults in England now define themselves as smokers that did before the start of the pandemic.

New Zealand faces an even greater challenge as it aims to eliminate smoking in the decades to come. This month, he announced plans for extraordinary legislation that will make it illegal for anyone aged 14 or under to buy cigarettes at any time in their life.

Such prohibitive legislation, I will risk, is unlikely to induce young people to comply with the new laws. Will making smoking so illicit only improve its cachet?

But I am not a young person. I’m also not in great danger of not being legally allowed to buy my nicotine. But I know I won’t. Me and the cigarettes are over – and although I once rated our relationship as deep and more productive, I’m so much richer, rosier, and, sadly, plumper now.

I’m writing this not as an act of triumphant self-righteousness, but to demonstrate that giving up isn’t that hard to do. “You literally say I’m addicted to cigarettes and you go from there,” says Alexa Chung, who quit last summer following an epic smoking binge. “As soon as you realize you can’t have just one,” she observes of her success as a non-smoker, “it’s piss.”

So don’t be fooled by the propaganda. This weekend will see a host of plays reinforcing the idea that stopping takes a lot of “work”. There will be books and recommendations. There will be new treatments to try. But the challenge is by no means insurmountable, and these weaning aids aren’t really what you need. You just have to decide the relationship is over and throw your cigarettes in the trash.

Email Jo at [email protected]

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