This Year, I’m Turning 30—And I Resolve To Finally Quit Smoking

That’s right: I’m making one of the most generic New Year’s resolutions you can make, right up there with ‘save money’ or ‘exercise more.’ In 2012, I’m vowing to finally quit smoking—a habit I’ve had off-and-on (mostly on) since I was 18. And I’m counting on your help and advice, Blisstree readers.

Obviously, the overarching reason, the meta-reason I’m quitting smoking, is ‘for my health.’ Smoking kills you; duh. Or at least causes all sorts of nasty health problems. Thus far, though, the prospect of death or cancer or whatever else has seemed too far removed to matter. And I love(d) smoking, truly. The cigarettes themselves, the pause in the day they gave me for thinking, the camaraderie with other smokers—all the things people who love smoking love. All the things that make it so hard to quit.

But I’ll be turning 30 later this year, and that—plus the nagging realization that this would mark my 12th year as a smoker—make it harder to push the health risks out of my mind. I mean, everyone smokes in their 20s, right? But if you’re still smoking in your 30s, you’re, like, way hardcore. And not in the cool, bicep-tattoo way but in the very-well-could-wind-up-with-an-oxygen-tank kind of way.

Or wind up with mega-wrinkles. Smoking is bad for your skin (and teeth), and I’m vain enough that at this point in my life, wrinkles scare me more than just about anything else. Heart disease still seems kinda distant and unlikely, but OMG is that a frown line? Pass me the retinol cream and the Nicorette!

Except, actually, I’m not going with nicotine gum. I’m not going with a patch, or e-cigarettes, or anything to help me quit at the moment. I have made no preparations; no, I’m just sitting here naively thinking I can quit ‘cold turkey,’ with just my own willpower and the support of my boyfriend, who’s been egging me on to quit. If the going gets rough, I might see about getting on Wellbutrin (but not Chantix; that stuff is scary). I took Wellbutrin the one previous time I tried to quit, and it seemed to help. Unfortunately, that time, I was so amazed with myself for cutting back from a pack to about 4 cigarettes per day that I gave up there; I mean, four is practically zero, right? Uh ….

Anyway, part of my strategy is to blog here about giving up cigarettes. Like Briana noted last week, sharing resolutions with others can help you stick to them. I’m hoping blogging about quitting smoking will not only help me stick to it, but provide me with some support/advice from others who’ve quit. Did you do it straight-up, or did you cut back gradually? Did you rely on any sort of nicotine gum or patches or anti-smoking apps? Could any of those quit-smoking hotlines or free counseling groups they offer really help? Are they any other motivational tricks I should know about it? Give me your best quit-smoking advice in the comments, please—or let me know if you, too, made a quit smoking in 2012 resolution. Let’s (grumble, grumble) get through this horrible process together!

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    • Katrina

      You can do it. I quit cold turkey about a year and a half ago and I smoked about a pack and a half a day. The main side effect was that I was a raging bitch for about a week but if you do small things like munch on baby carrots when you are looking for something to put in your mouth or learn to crochet or go on walks when you are craving one it makes it much easier.

      • Elizabeth Nolan Brown

        I hate crocheting and baby carrots. But I like walking! Unfortunately, I like walking and smoking ….

    • Chelsea

      You can do it. I quit cold turkey two years ago. It sucks but it has been so worth it.
      I’ve saved $3000.
      This timetable (http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Benefits_Time_Table.html) will tell you how you’re improving your health, in minutes, days, weeks, and years.

      Good luck!

      • Elizabeth Nolan Brown

        Thanks!

    • Leslie Annunziata

      Good for you! I quit 22 years ago for good and tried “SmokeEnders” . I don’t know if they’re even around anymore, cold turkey and some little computer gadget thingy I saw on tv. What worked (and I couldn’t imagine how easy it was) was the nicotine patch for 2 weeks. Plus and this was the mst important was that I joined a health club. I was great for getting rid of cravings. I felt great, the exercise gave me a healthy substitute and I haven’t smoked since. Good luck!

    • Robert M. Fried

      Hi and congratulations on your decision to quit smoking. Not sure where you are, but you should fly in to my world wide practice to stop smoking forever. Visit: http://www.robertfriedhypnosis.com for more information. Then, you can share your successful experience on your blog.

    • VJ Sleight

      Good luck! Check out my blog on tips to quit:
      http://www.StopSmokingStayQuit.blogspot.com

    • Mel

      For me, the biggest thing was staying away from triggers. I couldn’t have a drink without wanting to smoke, so I stayed out of bars for months until I could grab a beer with friends who still smoked and not want one. I also started working out at the same time- I could only run for 5 minutes at a time when I started, which was super demoralizing. But over time, I worked my way up to 5 miles at a time. Any time I think of smoking now, I remember how awesome and accomplished I feel when I run, and how much clearer my lungs feel.

    • Steve Polansky

      Smoking, once you became addicted to nicotine, became a simple response to some very basic physical cues that are common, not only to nicotine withdrawal, but also to fatigue, hunger, anger, boredom, driving and working at your computer, to name only a few. Those cues are primarily the condition of your breathing (rapid, shallow, slow, deep) and the state of your muscle tension (where do you typically carry your tension? neck/shoulders? jaw?).

      The difficulty with quitting and staying quit is that the association between your physical cues and a response happens automatically. Your first clue that an association has been made is an ‘urge to smoke’. At that point, you (the ‘you’ reading this) intervene with arguments such as “I’m a non-smoker”, “Smoking isn’t healthy”, “Smoking is expensive” etc… all very valid, but also quite beside the point which is that some physical cue needs immediate effective attention in a specific way that smoking happened to address.

      The fastest and simplest way for you to begin to accurately deal with your body’s basic subtle needs is simply to pay attention on an hourly basis for a day or two. Get an hour timer, and once an hour do a ‘short body check’ (how are you breathing? where are you tense?) and then take simple action that will improve your breathing and relieve the tension (maybe a few deep breaths and some stretching). Within a few hours you’ll notice that you can quickly, and with a fair degree of detail, identify the physical cues that trigger urges to smoke.

      I realize it sounds as though I’m saying that to quit smoking all you have to do is “breathe and stretch”. While those will be your responses in most situations, the key is to accurately recognize what your body needs in that moment. Of course, all of this assumes that you really don’t want to be a smoker any longer and are willing to choose actions based on your understanding of what your body needs in the moment.

      For a much more detailed discussion of this ‘body based’ approach to smoking and quitting, check http://cognitivequitting.com .

      Congrats on your decision to quit smoking. This could be the start of a fundamental change in how you experience and respond to all the situations that were tied to smoking.

    • Paul

      I too turn 30 (March) this year. Started smoking when I was 21. Average a pack a day, sometimes less or more. At this year’s NYE party people were talking about resolutions, and I told them i have a 30 resolution. Quit smoking and lose weight, in that order lol. Quitting will make it easier to lose weight via physical means. I’ll be less out of breath than I usually am. Mentally though, it’s going to be a mission. Remember, if other people can do it, why can’t we? Good luck to us both

      • Elizabeth Nolan Brown

        Thanks! Yes, good luck to you, too!

    • ken derow

      If you think that the Livestrong, “MYQuit Coach” mobile smoking cessation app looks like a soilid approach, you should check out the brand new app available on Android devices called, “Quit Smoking, Start Now.” This new app has more effective and proven features than any other on the market today, it is powerful, unique, and, it will work with the quitter to bolster his/her willpower and resolve to quit smoking, and has a totally unique “panic-button” to help prevent a potential smoking relapse. Check it out, on the website, quitsmokingstartnow.com.My name is Ken Derow and I designed the program this new app is based on.