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I Quit! with Keith Olbermann

Have you stopped smoking?  How did you do it?  Are you trying to quit? What tips do you have for others trying to quit?  Tell us your story.

Smoking could be considered somewhat stupid nowadays, given all we know about the negative health risks caused by lighting up.  Now, even more reason to quit, a new study says smoking might actually make you stupider.  The University of Michigan Addiction Research Center found that smokers have a lowered IQ and thinking ability after chronic use.

While quitting would be the smart thing to do, it's also a hard thing to do.  You're not alone out there.  If you want to do something about it, flush those butts and join in

Keep a picture of a cancerous larynx at hand
You must find a reason to hate it  The easiest one is fear of cancer.  When I stopped, I kept my cigarettes in my shirt pocket, as always, but also kept a picture of a cancer of the larynx that I copied from a Pathology book.  (I'll admit it, I'm a physician ).  Every time I wanted a cigarette, I pulled out the picture first.
Hal Rutenberg

Buy a new car
I bought a brand new Cadillac.  It was at that time the best car I had ever owned.  I had burned holes in the upholstery in my old car and somehow, I just couldn't bear to do that to something so expensive.  The new car smell just couldn't be violated.  So I quit and haven't smoked since.  That was in 1986.
K. Gray , Chappaqua, N.Y.

Only smoke outside
I thought I heard my dog wheeze and realized that while I apparently couldn’t quit for myself, I could quit for my two dogs.  What I did was I stopped smoking in the house. I forced myself to get up and go outside each time I wanted a smoke. The time between cigarettes stretched to such an extent that I was able to painlessly quit. I had tried the patch, gum, etc, but this method seemed to work the best.
D. Jones

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas
I knew I had wanted to quit for a long time.  I was stuck trying to figure out how to make it a momentous occasion, thinking I would place more importance on not smoking if I made it a big deal.

I scheduled a trip to Las Vegas with my friends.  I would spend five days in Vegas with my good buddy R.J. Reynolds, then say goodbye.  I smoked all weekend long, almost to the point of nausea.  My flight home arrived at 11:30 p.m., I rushed out the terminal to have a few last puffs, while awaiting my baggage.  Upon arriving home, I knew my 15 year fight was over.  I was a free man.  I am presently (as I write this) on my 4th day of non-smoking. 
Doug Blackburn, Omaha, Neb. 

Cinnamon sticks
After a 20 year, two-pack a day habit, I met a woman who didn't want to kiss a smoker (good motivation). Any way, a good friend at the American Cancer Society gave me the tip I needed. Cinnamon Sticks! They are the size of a cig, you can suck air through them.  They have a little flavor.  Most importantly, it gives your mouth and hands something to do, which I believe is part of the habit. 

The girlfriend only lasted a few months.  But, I haven't had one single drag off a cigarette in 17 years. Hope this helps someone.
Jeff Ignatowicz

Put it off
Here is surefire way to quit smoking with no cost at all. Don't quit, put it off. This is something we do all the time with no trouble.  When the craving hits, wait to smoke for one hour on the first morning.  Continue smoking of as you have in past for balance.  On the second day, put of smoking for two hours.  Keep putting off smoking an hour each day and you will come to dislike taste of any type of tobacco.
William Fulcher

BIC pens
I swear by my hollowed out BIC Pen. About 6 years ago I met a guy who used to organize smoking cessation programs. I wasn't serious about quitting at the time, but I remember he said that smoking itself doesn't relax your nerves, but it may seem that way since it forces you to breath differently (I guess since you inhale slower and take deeper breaths). So as part of their program, they would focus on breathing exercises. About a year later, when I decided it was time for me to quit -I tried some breathing exercises of my own, but it just didn't do anything for me.

I got the bright idea to hollow out one of those regular plastic/white BIC pens since it was about the width of my cigarettes, and sure... I got a few odd looks here and there.  But for me, puffing away at that pen really did the trick.  Plus, I could take it with me everywhere. Anyways, I can at least say that I'm now Smoke Free - and I've also able to successfully kick my Pen habit in the butt.
Christina B., Rochester, N.Y.

Roll your own
Smoking was and extremely nasty habit that I picked up in the Army.  Here's how I quit 30 years ago: I started rolling my own cigarettes.  No more automatically lighting up without thinking.  Every time I smoked, I had to go through the process of rolling my own cigarette.  I bought some strong Turkish tobacco.  A couple of puffs on one of these home made bad boys would make me feel wasted.

I went from a pack and a half down to 3 cigarettes a day almost overnight.  At that point it was easy for me to stop.
Ken Mattina

I smoked over a pack a day since I was 14 and on my wedding day at the ripe age of 30, I quit cold turkey. My wife didn't smoke and I figured I'd get kissed a whole lot more if she didn't sense she was smooching an ashtray. That was over 15 years ago, and looking back, quitting was one of the easiest of life's struggles. But as a smoker, struggling to quit and trying to look forward, I can see that quitting was hard. I tried hypnosis, acupuncture, etc. If the patch was available then I would have tried it too. In the end, it was the desire to be kissed that sold me on keeping a clean mouth — and I'm so glad I did.
— John G.

The Switch
I was a pack-a-day smoker for 10 years and quit by switching to high quality cigars with natural leaf fillers.  After a few weeks of cigar smoking, cigarettes began to taste "cheap" and I didn't enjoy them anymore.  I was then able to ween myself off cigars by chewing more
and smoking less.  After that, I never had a strong desire to go back to either cigarettes or cigars.  I don't know if this will work for everyone but it worked for me without a lot of stress.
— G.S.; San Antonio, Texas

Pilates, yoga, and a hike
I quit smoking fairly recently, this March. I bought one of those herbal supplement. In my case, Smoke Away.  I smoked my typical pack a day on a Friday, that night I took the first dose of Smoke Away.  I haven't had a cigarette since.  The first couple of days was okay, the third day was hell.  Once the first week was over, I had absolutely no desire to smoke.  I see people smoking now and wonder why in the world I did that for 8 years.  The down side of quitting smoking is weight gain, and that has been a problem for me.  But it has led to an entirely new social life.  I've begun taking a pilates class and a yoga class and this weekend I went on my first-ever hike.  I wouldn't have dreamed of trying these things before because I wouldn't have been able to breathe!

Saturday night
After smoking for 30 years, I decided it was time to quit.  I got a prescription for Nicoderm from my doctor, chose a date (a Sunday), and slapped that first patch on my upper arm.  I was smoke free all week, until Saturday night.   I lost control.  Took off that day's patch and ran to a store for a pack of cigarettes.  Smoked like crazy Saturday night. 

The next day, I threw away the rest of the pack and put on a new patch.  Following Saturday, did the same thing. 

On the third Saturday, when I had the urge to rip off the patch and smoke, I gave myself a mental shake.  I said (outloud) Janice, if you want to smoke, smoke.  You're an adult.  But, if you're going to quit, for heaven's sake stop this nonsense and quit.  The patch stayed on and it's been 10 years since I've smoked a cigarette.  This is a good thing.
— Janice Lenihan, Fort Collins, Colorado

Slow & Steady
I quit about 10 years ago at age 31, after smoking a pack a day since age 13.  First, I interviewed about 10 people who had quit to learn their secrets.  Based upon that, I came up with this plan:  I set a goal of quitting over an eight-week period.  First, I used the "Smokenders" approach of disassociating smoking from certain practices - no smoking in the car, no smoking within 15 minutes of a meal or waking up, no smoking while speaking on the phone, no smoking while drinking coffee.  Next, I began to switch brands.  Every 2 weeks I switched to a lighter brand of cigarette (from Marlboro Lights to Merit Ultra Light and eventually to Carlton). I set a limit of the # of cigarettes per day. Initially I could smoke a full pack, then dropped to 15, then 10, then 5, spacing them out over morning, afternoon and evening.  I carried a toothbrush and toothpaste wherever I went.  Any time I ate or drank anything - even a cup of coffee (especially a cup of coffee!!!) - I immediately brushed my teeth. I chose an oral substitute - in my case it was Tic Tac mints - and popped one whenever I felt I needed something. By the end of the 8 weeks, my nicotine intake was practically zero  (5 Carlton cigarettes per day).  More importantly, I hadn't had a GOOD cigarette in weeks.  I no longer enjoyed smoking them and had no physical addiction.  A side benefit, my teeth were already looking whiter from brushing them 8x a day. Now, it's been ten years and I have not had a single relapse. I hope this method may help others.
— Barry S. Graubart

Computer game, anyone?
I started smoking, on a lark, at the age of 47 — Dumb!!!!!!!!!  After smoking for 23 years, 1-2 packs a day, I stopped cold at the age of 70.   My method - Instead of buying a carton of cigarettes, I bought a computer game.  Instead of smoking a cigarette at those difficult times I played the computer game.  The good news, I am now 77 with no apparent problems and have not smoked for seven years.  The bad news, I own 35 computer games.
— Richard Pickering, Santa Clara, California

The straw
As odd as this may sound, I used drinking straws when I quit smoking 2 years ago.  I found that "puffing" on a straw helped satisfy cravings by duplicating the actions of smoking.  So as not to look like a complete idiot, I suggest cutting the straw to your usual cigarette length!
— Linda Forst, Omaha, Nebraska

I will if you will
There is one perfect way to quit smoking. Agree with another smoker to stop on a certain date that is never more then one week away. On that "certain" date, meet the other smoker, swear to no more butts to each other as of this certain date. This is a cold turkey operation that tests the honesty of each party. It works. I know.
— Bruce Parsons (Retired radio announcer), Englewood, Florida

The bloodhound
The one sure way to quit is to marry a militant non-smoker.  My wife wouldn't let me smoke in the house or in the state for that matter.  She has a keen sense of smell.  It was like being married to a bloodhound.  If I had been out smoking I would get a disapproving look when I got home.  Ladies and Gentlemen, guilt works.  I have been without cigarettes for almost a year and don't miss them at all.  Now if I could only overcome my addiction to coffee, chocolate, Coca Cola, biting my nails and cable news I might just make something out of myself.
— Charles James Concklin, Glenview, Illinois

Why & how
Why did I quit smoking?:
The look - A good long look at my mother's face: the wrinkles and creases, particularly around her mouth. The smell - Not just her, but the apartment where she and my dad lived.  You could smell the smoke 8 feet from the front door!  Everything they owned, every article of clothing, their vehicle.  Completely permeated.  The surgery - Mother had already had one lung cancer removed and continued to smoke 2 packs a day. The deaths - Her own father had died of lung cancer and it never slowed her (or me!) down.  I finally had enough.  After two other failed attempts where I managed to quit for a year or two, I decided to quit FOREVER.

How did I quit smoking?
Four years ago August 19th, I went to a hypnotist and walked out a non-smoker.  One visit.  I haven't wanted a cigarette since.  It was my gift to myself for my 46th birthday.  Best investment I've ever made.  One of the "tricks" that I've found is to tell ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE YOU KNOW that you are quitting. You would be amazed at the support that brings about.  Even your smoker friends want you to be successful, believe it or not.  And sugar-free gum isn't a bad idea if you really crave something for that oral fixation.

What about mother?  She died February 18, 2004.  Lung cancer.  Smoked until the very end.  Dammit.  I have one sister who still won't quit.  It's pissing me off.
— Ruth Clay

The water jar
I gave up a 2-pack-a-day habit (stressed newspaper reporter) in 1983 cold turkey and avoided ever smoking again by (a) keeping a jar filed with water and a pack of soaking cigarettes whose dark residue was a constant reminder of what went into my lungs when smoking and (b) putting the equivalent costs of daily smoking into a large mayo jar, resulting in nearly $1,000 per year.
— Pat Murphy, Ketchum, Idaho

Running free
I started at dad (the surgeon!) threw a pack at me when he'd had enough of my constant complaining about the irritating smoke and stench.  "Here, smoke!  Then it won't bother you."  That led to a pack a day habit/addiction which took me 20 years to quit.  I tried various methods without success until January 1, 2000.  I used the significant New Year's Eve to replace one habit/addiction with another.


As of this writing, I have now completed 6 marathons and scores of half marathons.  I write articles for running magazines.  I patented a workout program ("The Brains and Brawn WorkoutTM") and have my charitable fundraising through running programs is now over $15k, helping kids with cancer and people living with HIV and AIDS.

My advice: exchange one habit/addiction for another...something that is not only healthier, but that will HELP OTHERS.  Everyone will benefit.  Except the tobacco companies and morticians.
— Nelson Aspen, Los Angeles, California

Four to zilch
As an ex-smoker who has just gone through cardiac surgery,
I salute you for your graphic description of the effects of smoking. 
I lost my father at an early age to smoking and lost many of my uncles and other dear relatives to diseases related directly to smoking.

Notices on the sides of packs of cigarettes did no good.  Advice of doctors made me smirk.  I remember measuring my recovery from an almost fatal case of pneumonia by counting how many cigarettes I could manage each day.

I only realized that smoking is a ghastly disgusting disease by taking care of a friend who had developed a rare form of blood poisoning due to his heavy smoking. 

I went from four packs a day to zilch.  That brief window of opportunity where I could see smoking for what it was, came as a gift to me.  I thank you for having the guts to offer some of your readers that same gift.  God bless you.
— Larry Hayes, New York City, New York

The look
I started smoking in my teens and "quit' several times, only to be drawn back into the habit.  Finally, two years ago at the age of 42, the realization that I was killing myself with cigarettes actually sank in.  I looked at my ten-year-old son, who perhaps needs me more than most kids need their moms because he is autistic and because I am the only parent he has, and I stopped.  Forever.  I cannot explain how I know it's forever this time; I just know!
— Patti Calvert

I've been smoke free nearly 5 years now, and I credit it to an Oddball but effective remedy: every time I wanted to light up, I'd put on a highly flavored lipstick or lip balm (Jane Megabites or Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. I hope you do mention these companies because they probably helped save my life.) The sweet flavor is strong so it kept me from getting the munchies, and it took care of the hand-to-mouth habit. Men can do it too; a Lip Smacker is colorless. Just tell them it's macho to quit smoking.  You rock. You Rule! God bless you, you little quitter you!
— Elizabeth Bahadur Singh

I'm 36. I smoked in high school on weekends when I was drinking beer. I went to college and smoke everyday.  I am betting that is how most people my age started.  I have been driving a tractor trailer now for 16 years and smoked as I drove and tried to stay awake. I did not think I would ever get them out of the truck, and out of my life, but I did two years ago. It was the toughest thing I have ever done. I used the gum. It really did take the edge off. (Smokers will know what the edge is).  I had tried to quit before, but always used an excuse to start back up. For me, along with the gum I stayed away from triggers - beer, coffee, and crazy women. I did not drink any beer, or coffee for a while, which was very hard, but worth it. Now I drink beer and coffee and feel so proud of myself that I am not lighting up. Just hope my younger days don't do me in.  PS.   If you want to know about the crazy women, and how I deal with them and not smoke, it would take up a whole show.
— Scott Hurt, Harrisonburg, Virginia

January 23rd
My then-wife had been called by her doctor to re-do a chest x-ray. She had been smoking about 1 ½+ packs a day for about 18 years. It turned out that the x-ray film had been defective and the so-called “spot” on her lung was nothing more than the manifestation of that defective x-ray film.  Meanwhile, I was at my desk at work. She called me to tell me this tale, and that when she was driving to the doctor’s office for the x-ray re-do, she made a pact with God: if all turned out OK, she would stop smoking right then and there --- cold turkey!  And since it is so much easier for a couple to stop together, she announced that I must stop as well, right then and there --- cold turkey! I had been smoking 1+ pack per day for about 16 years at that point.   So I figured, why wait for the end of the business day? It was 2:30 p.m. on January 23, 1979 and we haven’t smoked since that time.  My ex-wife and I divorced more than 8 years ago, but I’ll always be grateful to her for enforcing her “pact with God” upon me. I celebrate that Jan. 23rd anniversary every year. I remember that date and time, just as clearly as I remember the JFK assassination and where I was and what I was doing.
— Allan A., Jupiter, Florida

Golf anyone?
I was just out of college and had taken up golf.  I was smoking a couple of packs a day and didn't think much of it.  After working for a year I took my first (and only) two-week vacation.  I was going to play golf each morning.  Monday morning I hit the links and the course was pretty much empty.  I had purchased some expensive golf balls, which I hit into the very rough area that was full of weeds. After searching for about a half hour and not finding my ball I continued my game moaning about the loss of a good ball.  As always I played poorly and probably lost more balls but I only remember the first one I lost.

By the time I returned home I was sick as a dog.  The pollen and allergies had gotten into my head, ears, chest and lungs.  I had tightness in my chest and funny noises in my inner ears as well as a constant runny nose and cough.  I was too sick to smoke.  It caused further coughing and made me feel even worse.  So for my first two-week vacation I was sick, unable to enjoy myself, missing my golf game and my cigarettes.

After two weeks or so I was feeling better, but I never went back to smoking, or golf for that matter.  I was very lucky, golf gave me the gift of good health and I really appreciate it.
— Thomas F. Hickey, Chicago, Illinois

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