There are some addictions that are so common you may believe they are normal like drinking coffee or for some people smoking a cigarette. I was probably 12 years old when I tried my hand at smoking one of my mother’s cigarettes. She’s since quit about 20 years ago before my sister was born. And it’s so funny after all these years of divorce my ddd still smokes the same brand, which shows they had at least this one thing in common. I ended up developing this habit early on in my teenage years, reaching it’s peak during my high school and university years. This was likely the age which was most impressionable. There was a sense at the time that smoking was cool, fun and the in-thing to do. There was also the drama of hiding or doing things behind your parents backs and even the thrill of being caught every once in a while.Anyway I later gave up smoking several times and once even managed it for about 1 and half years in my early 20s. This time I stopped about a year ago maybe beginning 2007. I learned to stop counting the days since my last cigarette as an affirmation that it’s not important enough and I proceed like I never smoked. And there is specific reasons I will never, ever smoke again. They include the very obvious ones like the risk of lung cancer and others. The reasons I should stop, always sounded good, and the benefits clear. Now I asked myself why did I go back to smoking in the past? The simple answer is because I did not think about the long term consequences and I also did not have any long term strategy in place to prevent me from going back to this disgusting habit. That was the key realisation, the long term strategy to kicking any habit is a crucial consideration to the process of reducing or removing your dependency from the addiction – whatever that may be. My health was also much lower on my hierarchy of values and now it’s much higher. this is what I did differently:

  1. I started cut down the number of cigarettes I smoked every day until it was about once per day.
  2. I reduced it to about 2 or 3 times over a weekend.
  3. I eventually had it down to about once a weekend.
  4. After this I began to associate smoking with people I didn’t like, places I didn’t like.
  5. I associated not smoking with people I liked, places I liked.
  6. I disassociated smoking with drinking – which is probably the most difficult link to break.
  7. I avoided places where people smoke like bars and clubs.
  8. I avoided people who smoke.
  9. I avoid women who smoke or when they did I would punish them by not kissing them and telling them why I am not kissing them.
  10. I always say no and move away from anyone offering me a cigarette with a mental note to avoid them in future.

Perhaps this sounds like a tedious measure but for me it has worked after quitting and starting to smoke several times over the last 15 years. The benefits of not smoking cannot be underestimated. For many people it’s a lifestyle choice and the ban on smoking in public and workplace in South Africa has made it easier to stop smoking. Today there is a complete turn off in my mind when I am close to or surrounded by smokers in public places to the extent that I leave the place to go somewhere else. Most women who smoke also turn me off the moment I see them smoking as well.

If you have any other suggestions for how to stop smoking post them as comments below…