The introduction of graphic health warnings depicting the health consequences of smoking on cigarette packets in Ireland this February in addition to rising tobacco prices and dropping temperatures have combined and created an atmosphere where it is no longer justifiable to be a smoker.
Quitting smoking is often acknowledged as an extremely difficult task and the Internet is full of advice on how to go about it, similarly pharmacy shelves are full of products claiming that they and they alone can make the process a simple and trouble free affair.
With so much variety in nicotine replacement products and quitting advice it can be almost impossible to find a method that works for you and that is where I am throwing my hat into the ring. In my attempt to become one of those healthy people who don’t have to duck outside the pub and stand in the freezing rain for ten minutes at a time I will be using a variety of different products and techniques and finding the pro’s and cons of each approach.
Attempt 1: The Cold Turkey Approach
Many authorities on quitting smoking promote the idea that cold turkey is the only way to successfully quit. That all of these fancy pharmaceutical solutions and whatnot are nothing compared to sheer human willpower.
I cannot emphasize enough that this is NOT TRUE. This might work for some people but as it turns out it’s not for me.
Cheap: Literally costs nothing (price does not include ridiculous amounts of chocolate/sweets etc. that will be consumed while ignoring cravings)
Bragging Rights: Let’s face it, if you quit through willpower alone you can gloat to all the miserable folks coming in from the cold about how easy it was to just stop.
Difficulty: This is an extremely difficult method to take, cravings will sneak up on you at the strangest of times and they can be extremely difficult to resist.
Mood Swings: You will not be pleasant to be around for a while after you begin to quit, as your body adjusts to its new nicotine free existence you will develop the shortest temper in the world and will snap at people for almost anything.
2 days of non smoking before my willpower gave out and I had possibly the best cigarette of my entire life. Not a method I would recommend to those who, like me, lack the willpower to resist cravings (which, just to justify my own weakness, is super hard)
Attempt 2: Nicotine Gum
After my first failure I decided that cold turkey was not for me and asked around a few friends for help. While there were still several promoters of the cold turkey torture method three other suggestions came highly recommended from various sources. I made a quick trip to the local pharmacy and picked up my new arsenal of anti smoking equipment. After enduring funny looks from the nice lady behind the counter I made my way home and cracked open my loot and decided that Nicotine Gum was the way forward.
Different strengths: the variety of strengths available let you choose how much nicotine you need to get by and then slowly edge the amount you consume downwards as you slowly kick your addiction.
You can do it anywhere: There’s no more facing the freezing weather outside as you can chew gum anywhere without complaints.
Taste: Despite a variety of flavours being available none of them are particularly appealing, most are distinctly unappealing
Cost: This stuff is actually quite expensive, it won’t break the bank completely but it does remove the money incentive for quitting
Learning curve: It sounds odd to say, but it is actually quite difficult to get the hang of chewing this stuff, there’s a special method of chewing the gum in the instructions and if you happen to forget and chew normally the gum reminds you of your mistake with what has got to be one of the most awful tastes in the world.
Almost three weeks without smoking before I eventually cracked after running out of gum. Definitely a useful product for those who want to quit.
Attempt 3: Nicotine Mouth spray
With Cold Turkey and Nicotine Gum out of the way, I once again dived into my bag of smoke free tricks and came up with solution number three, Nicotine mouth spray, a bottle of liquid that you spray in your mouth whenever a craving hits.
No more cravings: Cravings are dealt with quickly, easily and without a bad taste.
Over use: It is very easy to overuse this stuff, you get into the habit of spraying at the slightest hint of a craving and I found myself using it three or four times as often as I would usually smoke leaving me more dependent on nicotine than when I started.
Looking like a pervert: Maybe it’s just me but I couldn’t help but feel like this guy whenever I sprayed myself.
I didn’t actually fail using the mouth spray but decided to move on to the next method once I realised I was replacing my cigarette addiction with a brand new spray addiction, which when you get down to it, sort of defeats the purpose.
Attempt 4: Electronic Cigarette
Deciding that it was time to kick my newfound nicotine spray addiction I moved on to my final product, my last chance (for now) . . . electronic cigarettes.
Feels like smoking: It’s a little thing but it seems that on some subconscious level I had missed the feel of smoking, the act of holding a cigarette and taking a drag. This provided that and made it a bit easier to stick with.
Price: The refill packs for this were significantly cheaper than buying actual cigarettes leaving me feeling strangely rich.
Price: Despite the refills being cheap the price of the cigarette itself was quite high, so there was a one time expense that left me scrounging for pennies.
Overuse: Once again I found myself indulging even the slightest cravings, justifying it by saying it was “healthy”
Battery Life: It has to be for a few hours a day, easily done while sleeping but this can be disastrous when you forget.
After four weeks on the electronic cigarette I forgot to charge it and finally caved. It definitely worked to subdue the cravings though and was even relatively cheap. Definitely the most successful of my experiments.
In conclusion, over the course of my experiments with abandoning the old cancer sticks I have discovered that unless you have the willpower of a saint, cold turkey is not the way, and that each method attempted has its own strengths and weaknesses. I ultimately didn’t succeed in dropping a truly terrible habit but at least I can say that I tried.
Feel free to share any personal tips and tricks or stories about kicking smoking below in the comment section and maybe one of them could help someone else who’s trying to quit.