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                                                                                                                                                   Vic Johnson. Former Smoker 


By Vic Johnson

The author is a lung cancer survivor (39 years) who quit smoking over 43 years ago. He is not a medical professional and this information is not intended or offered as medical advice.  You should consult your own medical professional if you have any questions concerning your health.





1.       Self control.  First and foremost you must remember that you are an individual with your own habits, characteristics and way of doing things.  There are numerous things in your life that you have absolutely no control over.  The one thing that you do have control over is your mind and the ability to make up your own mind about something.  It is entirely up to you to decide that you WANT to quit smoking and break your nicotine addiction.  No one can do it for you.  And as much as you might want someone else to quit smoking only THEY can do it for themselves. 

     Self control is the most important element in quitting smoking.  That is why it is listed as number 1.  By self control I don’t mean immediate total elimination of cigarette smoking.   That is usually impossible.  Self control means doing the very best that you can to quit.  If you fail a time or two don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just keep on trying to quit smoking.  I did not quit the first time I tried.  But eventually I did succeed.

        It has to be realized at this point that the nicotine contained in tobacco is a highly addictive drug.  And like any addictive drug each and everytime that it is introduced into one's system through either smoking, dipping or chewing tobacco it causes another addiction.  Therefore every relapse causes another addiction that requires another new quit because the nicotine drug is re-introduced into your system. 

2.       Quit any time.  If you have not decided to quit today pick a date to stop smoking.  Even if you have developed disgust for the addiction, like I did, there is no easy time to stop smoking.  However, you have a better chance of successfully breaking your nicotine addiction if your target quit date is not at a stressful time.  Some organizations suggest a certain day in November as a non smoking day; I suggest that every day be a non smoking day.

3.       Pharmaceutical products that claim to aid in kicking the nicotine addiction that actually contain nicotine cannot work.  People that use products that contain nicotine are keeping nicotine in their system.  Personally I never had any success with those products.  Back in the early nineteen eighties, when I quit smoking using the “cold turkey”method, pharmaceutical aids for quitting the smoking habit were not as advanced as they are today.  What works for one person may not work for another.  You may want to consult your doctor before trying such products. 

4.         Quit, quit, quit.  No matter how many times you fail to stop smoking don’t stop trying.  The only way to quit smoking is to quit.  You are only a failure if you quit trying.  In order to stop smoking you have to make a selfish decision to quit.  There is nothing wrong with this selfish decision.  You have to do it for yourself.  You can’t quit just because someone else wants you to quit.  As much as we may love our spouse or children we can’t quit because they want us to quit.  You have to want to quit and you have to be selfish about it.  Trust me, it is a good thing.

5.         The urge.  Cigarette smoking and the nicotine addiction is difficult to break.  The urge to smoke is very powerful when you first decide to quit. 

            However, the urge to have a cigarette only lasts for a few minutes.  I know, I know, people have told me those few minutes last for hours or even days.  It only seems that long because the person trying to quit lets him or herself dwell on the urge.  If at all possible do other things when the urge presents itself.  Think of how that next cigarette will cause you to stink and leave a bad taste in your mouth.  The main thought that came to my mind whenever I got that urge was, “I am the master of myself and my well being.  No tiny little cylinder of tobacco and paper will dictate to or master me.”   It worked for me.

            Try it or use your own.

6.         Make a list.  When you decide to take back your life from cigarette smoking sit down and take a piece of note book paper and draw a line down the center from top to bottom making two columns.  On the right hand side of the paper put down Reasons to Quit Smoking.  On the left list Reasons to Continue to Smoke.  As #1 on the Reasons to quit column put down, “Improve myself and my health.”  Now go ahead and think of and write down all of the different reasons why you should or should not smoke, listing them in the appropriate column.    You will come up with what you think are pretty good reasons to continue to smoke. 

            It tastes good.  It settles me down.  It calms my nerves.  If you list 100 reasons why you should continue to smoke, all of them together cannot equal the #1 reason to quit.  Quitting smoking will improve you and your health.

7.         Clean up.  All right you have made your decision to quit smoking. 

            Now, take a bath or a shower and wash your hair.  Get that tobacco smell off of all of your personal belongings and as much of your surroundings as possible.  Wash your clothes.  Clean or better yet (throw out) those filthy ash trays.  Have your car washed and thoroughly cleaned inside.  Wash all washable fabrics in your house.  Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home.  If you have not completely broken the nicotine addiction yourself designate a place, preferably outside of your house, to smoke and use it.  This can be a test of your own will power.  This exercise has a couple of worthwhile benefits.  Besides being clean, tobacco smells wise; you will be more reluctant to contaminate yourself and your belongings.  Believe me within a week after quitting smoking you will notice a definite difference in your sense of smell.  Along with your improved sense of smell you will notice that your sense of taste is greatly improved.  Every thing tastes better without tobacco.

8.         Help or support in quitting smoking.   Having a group or a friend help keep you on the path to becoming smoke free can be very beneficial.  But, at the risk of being negative, I have to remind you that more than likely you acquired the smoking habit through peer pressure.  Someone helped you get hooked.  I found that, on more than one occasion, when I decided to try to quit, my friends that still smoked were of no help whatsoever.
While it can be true that they love you and may want the very best for you.  They might feel that you are improving yourself and leaving them behind. Jealousy can enter into the picture when someone is trying to quit smoking. Some friends, yes even loved ones,can relish in your failure to quit.  It gives them the chance to say, “I knew you couldn’t do it.”

           Besides, I cannot say this often enough, quitting smoking is a personal thing.  So BEWARE of who you tell that you are quitting smoking.  Make certain that it is someone that will truly help you make the effort to quit.  Someone that has already stopped smoking is the ideal helpmate.

  No matter how much positive support a person receives during their attempts to quit smoking it is still a personal triumph.  While it is true that others can share in your joy of quitting. You are the biggest winner when it comes to the desired good results of your efforts.

9.         Chest X-ray.   According to my doctor lung cancer can appear three to five years after a heavy smoker has quit smoking.  I had a chest x ray taken on a fairly regular basis due to my many illnesses.  If you are a heavy smoker, as I was, over three packs a day, just as a precaution, I would have a chest x ray taken. Those x rays were instrumental in detecting my lung cancer in a timely fashion.  They probably saved my life.  The doctor had something to compare the newest X ray to by having them taken on a regular basis.

10.       Breathe and Enjoy life.  If you smoke, you breathe, but you can’t breathe properly because of the smoke. Taking short deep breaths just as you do when you inhale cigarette smoke can actually help you break the smoking habit.  Take a long, slow deep breathe of air. Then, just as you would, if you were smoking a cigarette, take another gulp of fresh air and hold it in your lungs for a short time.  Release the air just as you would if you had taken a drag off a cigarette. Practice this breathing method until you can hold your breath for a good minute or more.  This is a good exercise that actually helps improve your lung capacity.  Smokers usually have a small lung capacity due to inhaling smoke and tobacco by-products.  It is also a great way to occupy you while fighting the urge to light up.  After all, the main purpose of quitting smoking is to improve your health.  Proper breathing can help you do just that.  

        These tips and my story can be found at my website www.quitterscanbewinners.com    

          While you are quitting smoking, and after you have broken the nicotine addiction, enjoy yourself.  Life is short enough as it is. Try to find something legal and enjoyable to do and do it.  Don’t take life all that seriously.  We are all going to die, eventually; we just don’t have to hasten it with cigarette smoking. Have some fun and remember,"There can be life after tobacco!”