It’s been seven months now since I packed in smoking. I thought I would take the time to write about how I’ve found quitting smoking, the pros and cons, and the easy ways I personally feel to go about quitting. I’m going to start off by saying if you’ve never smoked, you may be wondering why I’ve said “pros and cons” – surely there are no pros to smoking? I personally don’t think it would be right for me to completely bad mouth smoking, after all, for a few months I did find it enjoyable. What I also don’t want to do is bad mouth anyone who’s reading this who doesn’t want to quit smoking because at the end of the day people should be able to do whatever they want.
There’s a multitude of reasons why I decided to give up smoking. I was 18 at the time so I was finding it very costly, my addiction to tobacco in the year and a half that I’d been smoking increasingly got worse to the point where on some days I was smoking up to 40 cigarettes, I was also fed up of the smell that came along with smoking and how I had to constantly spray myself with deodorant to try to hide it. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons why I wanted to quit and I could spend ages just sitting here and listing them off.
Even before I started smoking, I was intrigued by it. I always wondered if it was so bad for you, why roughly 9.4 million adults in the UK smoke cigarettes. When I eventually did try a cigarette for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed it; each puff I took made me feel light-headed and relaxed. When people ask me what it’s like to smoke a cigarette, this is the reason why I tell them the truth and say I did get satisfaction out of doing it – If I were to respond saying how terrible it is and how much I hate it, they’re going to know I’m lying and may seek a second opinion in one way shape or form. After a few months though the nice feeling I was getting from smoking was slowly disappearing. Unfortunately it was too late though, I was already hooked.
As the nice effects were going away, I found myself smoking more and more to try to get that feeling back again. In hindsight, I would’ve saved myself a lot of money and done less damage to myself if I attempted to call it quits there and then, but I carried on with it. I eventually did attempt to quit, but the problem I had been that my friends smoked which meant I couldn’t get away from it. Also, I really hated college and smoking was the only thing I had that made going in more bearable. This made quitting very hard, even with the use of nicotine patches. Every few weeks I’d try and quit but I always wound up with a cigarette between my lips again.
Fast forward to October 2015; college is done with but I’ve been diagnosed with depression and am determined to make some changes, one of which is to pack in the smoking. I went and bought nicotine patches, used /r/StopSmoking on Reddit to read other people’s experiences, I made the decision to stop hanging out with my friends who smoked until I felt I could go out again and not crack. Not being at college certainly helped as well since I was at home 99% of the time and didn’t feel like I needed to light up a cigarette in order to make my day better. At first I found it very hard, every time I saw someone with a cigarette it’d make me want one too; perseverance sums up quitting smoking perfectly. While I personally found it very hard, one has to remain strong to get through it.
If we fast forward again to May 2016 you’ll find I haven’t smoked a cigarette in seven months. The nicotine patches are long gone, I have more money in my pocket, my breathing has improved dramatically, and there appears to be no sign of me doing a U-turn by going back to smoking. I’m happy now, there’s no reason for me to smoke. I’d be lying if I told you that I never think about smoking anymore because I do. When I’m at the pub and I see people smoking, it brings back memories from when I’d be in the back of a pub puffing away on a cigarette while chatting to my friends. With that being said, a thought is all it is – smoking has very little to no control over me now.
So what are the pros of smoking? Please bear in mind that this is from my perspective, other people will obviously have different answers. I found the pros to be that it relieved me off stress for a brief period of time; I also found it to be quite a sociable thing to do – my friends and I would go to the pub and smoke while having a drink, we could also debate for ages about what the best brand of cigarettes were or if straights are better than rollies etc. Another thing I liked about smoking was that it gave me something to do if I was waiting around or if I was bored.
However, the list of cons is longer for me than the list of pros is. While it gave me something to do if I was bored, I found as I was trying to quit that doing things like walking into town while listening to music very difficult without having a cigarette in my hand. I also found that my breath and clothes would absolutely stink of smoke which made me quite self-conscious about what people might think about me. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times but the cost of smoking really had an impact on me; as an 18 year old, I couldn’t really afford to be spending £8 a day on cigarettes. There was also my health to take into account – not everyone who smokes is going to get cancer, but do I really want to risk it? It had an effect on my breathing and I was developing a nasty cough because of it. While there were pros to smoking, the cons certainly outweighed them in my opinion.
Nowadays there are so many ways one can go about quitting smoking. The first bit of advice I’d give to someone trying to quit though is to ask yourself if you’re 100% ready to quit, you have to be determined otherwise you’ll end up back to square one. I found a good way to find out if you’re ready to quit is to write down the pros and cons of smoking for you personally, if there’s more cons than pros, you’re ready. I also used an app on my phone to help keep track of how I was doing; there are loads of apps out there for Android, iOS, Windows etc. but the best one for me was *Smoke Free. Some people suggested to me that I should give e-cigarettes a go but since I wanted to break the habit completely I went with nicotine patches instead. There’s also nicotine gum and tablets available on the market if the patches don’t sound so appealing to you. For those of you in the UK, the NHS has *Stop Smoking Services that can be used to help quit and you can also get a *free stop smoking kit.
Everyone is different; some people like smoking and don’t think of giving up, but there’s also people who tire of it and decide they want to pack it in, it’s up to each individual to decide what they want to do. For those of you reading this that want to quit, I hope you’ve found what I’ve had to say useful, and in general I’d like to thank you for reading what I have to say regardless of if you’re a smoker or not.
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