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In This Chapter
* Approaching the idea of quitting in the right frame of mind
* Looking forward to life after quitting
* Admitting that you are addicted to tobacco
* Knowing when you're ready to quit
* Tooling up for quitting success
* Finding the support you need to make quitting last
Quitting smoking is a major commitment - and an enormously positive
life step. If you're like most smokers, you've tried to quit before. You
probably appreciate the difficulty and some of the complexities involved
in kicking the habit. This chapter discusses the major issues involved in
quitting smoking. It also helps you flesh out your decision to stop smoking
by directing you to the tools you need to make this attempt to quit a lasting
Making the Call
Ever want to call it quits? Ever feel like you've just had enough (cigarettes,
I mean)? If so, welcome to the crowd. Millions of people have been through
this experience, and millions of people have succeeded at quitting. Millions
of others, through education and the media, have gotten the message never
to pick up.
If you're like most smokers who arethinking about quitting, it's very likely
that you've tried to quit before. Those who do quit often make up to half a
dozen attempts before succeeding. This book is your guide through the
process. It is a friend, a tool, a source of information, and a weapon.
Quitting smoking is one of the best and most important things you can do for
yourself. As you read this book, you will find that the best way to do it is to
do it comprehensively. This book arms and fortifies you not only with the
facts, but also with self-knowledge and with commitment on an intellectual,
emotional, and perhaps even spiritual level.
Why do you want to quit?
When you think about it, smoking is a gruesome process. The ingredients of
tobacco smoke (or chew, or dip) are no better than what comes pouring out
the chimneys of factories or out of a car's exhaust pipe. Along with nicotine,
the fumes contain carbon monoxide, tar, and literally thousands of other
chemicals, dozens of which are known to harm the body.
Part of what I do in this book is to present information. I also ask you to
contribute to the book by responding to questions that draw on your life
and experience. Learning involves repetition, so as you go along, you'll find
that certain areas and items come up more than once.
Visualizing the New, Healthy You
Who is the person staring back at you in the mirror each day? Do you like
that person? Do you respect that person? Or does the person in the glass
look tired, hassled, and burned out?
Whomever you see, you see that person through a haze of smoke. Like
all psychoactive drugs (drugs that have an effect on the psyche), nicotine
changes the way you feel momentarily and then puts you in a state of withdrawal
until the next smoke. When you look in the mirror, you see a person
who is getting doused in nicotine many times a day. The smoke percolates
through your lungs into your bloodstream and from there to every part of
your body. Even if everything else in your life is on an even keel, why
surrender any personal options to tobacco? Feeling helpless and even
hopeless is not fun!
You bought this book because you're ready to clear the air - you're seriously
interested in quitting smoking for good (or someone who really cares about
you wants you to quit). You're probably feeling frustrated and angry about
the difficulties involved in quitting. If you're like most quitters, you've tried
before and failed.
The most important step is to make the decision to quit.
Once you decide that you want to quit, you take it from there. Imagine how
you will look and feel, and how things will taste and smell, once the haze
has lifted. The ripple effects of quitting are tremendous, almost beyond
imagination. The moment you stop, your body's cells and airways begin
healing, cleaning themselves out. Yes, the first few days may be rough
going, but even during that time you start to experience a physical,
mental, and even spiritual renewal.
What I'm telling you may sound too good to be true. Or it may sound like
hogwash. It isn't. Take it from someone who's been through the mill. I smoked
a pack a day for more than ten years. Like many other smokers, I had a love
affair with cigarettes. At times they were my constant companion, my solace,
my sustenance. The act of lighting up was filled with meaning for me. Lighting
up meant doing something; it made me feel young, sexy, and alive; and it gave
me something to do with my hands and mouth.
And then there was the downside. I had sore throats, congested lungs, and
a persistent cough. The rank and acrid taste of tobacco that lingered in my
mouth the morning after a smoking binge made me gag. Along with all that
unpleasantness, there were the decades of health warnings and the deaths
of many others from lung cancer that I tried to store away in a faraway corner
of my mind.
You get to a point where you've had enough. Just because the damage is internal
doesn't mean that it's invisible. You know that you're harming yourself.
After a while, I realized that I wanted something better for myself. I wanted
to be able to jog around the reservoir without looking forward to the reward
of a smoke. I wanted clean, kissable breath and an unburdened conscience.
As the saying goes, the parts are related to the whole. If I insisted on using
my lungs as a garbage dump for tar and nicotine, then that choice would
somehow show up in my appearance: a cough, smoker's breath, stained
fingertips. Clearing the body is clearing the conscience. When you feel better,
you look better, too.
As an ex-smoker, how will you look? Visualize your renewed, healthy self,
and describe what you see in Table 1-1. Be as specific as possible. For example,
under "Exercise habits," document what kind of exercise you can do now
and what kind you would like to be able to do after reaching Quit Day 1.
Visualization is an incredibly powerful tool. The more you see yourself this
way, the closer you'll come to achieving your goals.
Getting a Fresh Start
Rebirth is one of humanity's major spiritual themes. One of the reasons
rebirth is a central belief in many of the world's major religions is that
the cycle of death and renewal occurs constantly throughout nature. For
example, autumn transforms the color of foliage; winter whisks the brown,
shriveled leaves away; and then everything turns green again when spring
The concept of renewal is a terrific metaphor for starting fresh. Whether you
struggle with your appearance, your self-esteem, or a habit that you want to
cut loose, each and every moment of each and every day presents you with a
new opportunity to say, "I'm going to do it differently this time. This time, I'm
taking the high road."
The first step in your "rebirth" is to decide what shape your phoenix will
take as it rises from the ashes. (Speaking of ashes: Get rid of your ashtrays,
to start!) Now is a great time to take a detailed, point-by-point inventory of
what you want your life to be like after you quit smoking. Flesh out the
particulars in Table 1-2.
Feel like you're biting off more than you can chew? You aren't. Does
thinking about the future in this way seem way too ambitious? It isn't. If
you can quit smoking (and you can!), you can set goals and achieve more,
using the same tools, energy, and commitment that will work for you in your
effort to quit.
After you fill out Table 1-2, go through your personal goals again in Table 1-3,
this time identifying exactly what steps you will need to take to accomplish
Having put your goals in writing, you may have a much stronger reason to
believe that there is life after cigarettes. And the life you have after cigarettes,
just like the life you've had while smoking, is in large part shaped by the decisions
Some people may argue that I'm making too much of this process - that
the point is "simply" to stop smoking. But, as I hope this book demonstrates,
quitting is not a simple act. Because smoking has played so many pivotal roles
in your life, quitting is a highly complex process. When you give up such an
important part of your life, you need to replace it with something as compelling
and powerful. Being a healthier (or smarter, or more energetic, or more loving,
or more effective - you decide) person is the real payoff for quitting.
Coming to Terms with Your Addiction
You may feel that you can handle smoking. You may feel that smoking is not a
problem for you. How do you know when you need to quit?
Why did you buy this book? You may know people who have been harmed
by smoking and have become ill, either acutely or chronically. Friends or
relatives may have suggested or hinted that it might be a good idea for you
to cut back on cigarettes or to quit altogether. Do these hints anger you? Do
you worry about the effects of smoking on your health, your appearance,
and your wallet? Do you ever feel like smoking is cramping your style - you
resent always having to make allowances, find excuses, and look for opportunities
to get outside to find a private spot to light up?
Ask yourself whether smoking is making problems for you. And answer as
honestly as you can. Once you have a crystal clear understanding of the
actual and potential damage that smoking causes, you will feel less doubtful
and more committed than ever to quitting smoking.
Tobacco toxicity comes in many forms. Tobacco and the chemicals and
additives it contains are physically harmful, have powerful effects on behavior
and the nervous system, and have widespread negative impact on public
health as well.
Your decision to quit smoking is based on personal motivations. You may
want a healthier body, you may want greater stamina, or you may be sick
and tired of feeling sick and tired. Smoking has been shown to cause breathing
and other kinds of problems in both smokers and in people who inhale
secondhand smoke (smoke exhaled by others or given off by lit cigars, pipes,
Whatever your reason to quit, bulk it up by understanding as much as possible
about the intermediate and long-term consequences of smoking. You'll
get to a point where justifying more smoking is no longer possible. (Chapters
5 and 6 give you a clear picture of smoking's many negative consequences.)
The most direct approach to coming to terms with smoking is to ask yourself
whether smoking is a problem for you. Remember that problems can be in
the future as well as the present. (For example, if your favorite food is peanut
butter sandwiches and you know that you will run out of peanut butter next
week, you will have a problem.) Burying your head in the sand and denying
what the future is likely to bring can be a problem, too.
You need to come to terms with your level of tobacco use in order to become
ready to quit. You may have a problem with the word addiction. You might so
dislike the entire concept that you either completely abandon the pursuit of
quitting ... or you might quit.
If you think that smoking isn't a problem for you, you're unlikely to dedicate
yourself heart and soul to quitting. On the other hand, if you take an honest
self-inventory of your commitment to smoking, you may want to quit ...
One sure sign that you're really hooked, and that you may want to cut
tobacco loose, is the presence of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These
highly unpleasant sensations arise within one or two hours of your last
cigarette and include
These withdrawal symptoms naturally lead to cravings for tobacco.
As you think about quitting, consider how powerful a hold nicotine has on
you. Anything that can cause withdrawal symptoms like these is powerful
and ultimately toxic. Do you really want to be a slave to something so terrible
As you come to understand the impact that smoking has had on your
life - particularly if you've had some health problems as a result - you
may feel slightly or even more than slightly overwhelmed. How can you
have done this to yourself? Fortunately, you get lots of chances in life,
including the chance to quit smoking and recapture part or all of your
Many people have made bad decisions, such as starting to smoke. The
challenge is to see where you've been and to make a conscious decision
about exactly where you want to go from here. If you've been in the habit of
saving or investing money, for example, you know that the amount you have
continues to grow. The same applies to forward-looking acts of goodwill and
kindness toward yourself - including quitting smoking. The self-denial that
you practice now will pay off enormous dividends in just a short time. One
clean, smoke-free breath leads to another ... and successive ones feel
better and better.
Knowing When You're Ready to Stop
You're ready to stop smoking when
Excerpted from Quitting Smoking For Dummies
by David Brizer
Copyright © 2003 by David Brizer, M.D..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.