How to stop smoking permanently

Early in my medical career, I had a middle-aged male patient who smoked a pack a day. He was an overweight businessman with high blood pressure. Being a neophyte, I constantly reminded him to stop smoking.
After his third visit, he told me bluntly, “Hey young man, don’t tell me to stop smoking. I’m older and wiser than you. Just do your check-up and give me my medicine.”
Somewhat embarrassed, I stopped badgering him about his smoking and just gave him the best medical care I could. I have to admit I kind of liked the guy even with his personality.
A year later, I requested a routine chest X-ray and unfortunately, we found out that he had early stage of lung cancer. I referred him to the best oncologist I knew. After a four-year battle, he passed away.
During one of his last visits, I distinctly remember him standing up and throwing his hands in the air saying, “Oh God, why did you give me this illness? Why, God?”
In my mind, I couldn’t help but think that God never gave him the illness. It’s his smoking that caused the cancer.
From then on, I resolved to remind my patients to please, please stop smoking. I don’t care if they get irritated or annoyed. I will insist, badger and plead for them to stop smoking, because I know it will save their lives.
Techniques to stop smoking:
1. Stop immediately. They call it cold turkey, and the person just decides to stop right there and then. The success rate of this method is only 10 percent. For me, it’s still a good 10 percent. Try it.
2. Seek a lung doctor for help. The doctor may prescribe some medicine, like Zyban or Champix, which increases the success rate of quitting. There is a 30 percent and 44 percent success rate of quitting using these drugs, respectively. The drugs work by treating the nicotine addiction in the brain. Ask your doctor about it.
3. Try nicotine replacement therapy, called NRT. Although currently off the local market, these nicotine preparations can help increase your likelihood to quit smoking.
They come in the form of nicotine gum, nicotine patch and lozenges. Do this only under your doctor’s supervision because some people also get addicted to the nicotine replacement.
Many people think that electronic cigarettes are good alternatives to cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive. When you stop using it, you can go into withdrawal and feel depressed and irritable, just like when you stop smoking.
Nicotine isn’t good for people with heart problems. And some initial research shows it may hurt your arteries. Although the studies are not yet clear, many doctors agree that e-cigarettes are harmful to your health.
4. Read about herbal alternatives. These herbal products are said to help smokers cope with withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability and tiredness, after they quit.
5. Try alternative methods. There are anecdotal reports that hypnosis, acupuncture and behavioral therapy can help you quit.
For best results, you can combine the strategies and tips outlined here to increase your chances of quitting permanently.
16 tips to stop smoking
1. Be prepared. Set your mind on a date when you decide to stop smoking.
2. Change your surroundings. Remove all smoking paraphernalia, including reminders from your home and workplace – cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, T-shirts, advertising materials. Stay away from friends who tempt you to smoke. Go to non-smoking malls and restaurants.
3. Quit completely. Once you reach this quit date, don’t think of smoking again. Not even a stick.
4. Avoid situations (called triggers) that tempt you to smoke. It could be a certain meal, a certain place or some people that give you the urge to smoke. Avoid them completely, especially during the first three months. It usually takes three months for you to overcome your dependency on nicotine.
5. Expect the first week to be the hardest. You will probably feel irritable, tired, and angry after you quit. But once you get over the hump, you will slowly feel better. The urge to smoke will still be there, but it’s going to be more of a mental dependency rather than a physical dependency.
6. Stay strong. Don’t give in to temptations. Every time you beat the temptation, you will feel stronger later on.
7. Seek support from family and friends. Tell them you have stopped smoking, so they will know how to deal with you. Who knows, you might even inspire others to quit.
8. Visit your doctor often. Seek your doctor’s help and counseling, especially if you are using quit-smoking aids and medicine.
9. Do new things. Start a new activity so you will forget the times when you were still smoking. Eat lunch in a different place. Get busy with a new project. Do something that will break your old routine. Be happy and renewed.
10. Pamper yourself. Take a hot shower, exercise, or read a book. Do something pleasant and enjoyable.
11. Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day. Take a sip or two of water when you start to feel the craving to smoke.
12. Get a regular exercise routine. Exercise three to five times a week, for around 30 minutes to an hour. Walking, swimming and sports activities are fine. Start slowly and increase your routine gradually. Exercise releases a “runner’s high” and will lessen your urge to smoke.
13. Avoid drinking alcohol. Taking in alcohol lowers your success of quitting. Don’t replace one bad habit with another.
14. Expect some weight gain. People who quit may gain around five to 10 pounds. That is why exercise and a healthy diet are important to control your weight. But don’t use weight gain as an excuse to smoke again. The hazards of smoking are far more dangerous than a few pounds you can lose later on.
15. Take a break often and lighten your work load. Quitting can be a tiring process. Save your strength so you will have the willpower to stay clean.
16. Be prepared for temptations. Some people start smoking again within three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged. Many people need several attempts to quit before they finally succeed.
Remember, don’t lose hope. Quitting may take some time but the rewards are tremendous. If you decide to stop smoking today, I guarantee that you will save yourself from a lot of heartaches and pain.
Good luck!