I began the serious committed process of cutting out cigarettes around October of last year. I still smoke tobacco on occasion, but I have been able to successfully not go full blown back into my old smoking habits.

With honest reflection, I can say that I have wanted to quit smoking since I realized that I was indeed hooked in my early twenties. However, for most of the time between 22 and 27 I just always assumed at some point I would have this burning bush moment and just quit. Like most notions of grandeur, that never happened. So, I went about things the realistic way.

How I quit being a smoker

Finding the right way to quit smoking is like trying to find the perfect book. Unless you start reading, you’ll never find it. It was a path that took me from identifying as a smoker to accepting that I could be a non-smoker. That sounds trite, but it’s incredibly arduous. Personally, I took the path of cutting back on my smoking habit in phases, with the goal to eventually cut it out entirely.

I started by switching to hand-rolled cigarettes. The task of having to roll the cigarette to smoke it immediately cut back on my frequency of smoking. Over a period of about 9 months, I went from smoking around a pack a day to smoking 4-10 cigarettes per week. Progress not perfection.

It wasn’t an exact science, but I gave myself patience and understanding and kept curbing down until I was only smoking every other day. Then, I hit a wall. I couldn’t make the jump from semi-regular smoker to non-smoker.

The Burning Bush Path

However, the anxiety of wanting to quit had slowly taken over the anxiety of wanting to smoke. My burning bush moment didn’t happen all at once. Like most burning bush moments it happened as a result of taking action, sticking to a plan, and conscious reflection.

My reasons to quit:

  • Obviously, it will kill me.
  • I stink when I smoke, more than I even know.
  • Smelling bad and having business meetings doesn’t always work out well.
  • I hate littering, so I was constantly anxious if I didn’t have a place to dispose of my cigarette after finishing.
  • I felt bad that my girlfriend had to kiss me after I smoked.
  • It felt dirty.
  • It was inconvenient.
  • My chest hurt.
  • My stomach hurt.
  • It put me in an anxiety loop.

My reasons to smoke:

  • I didn’t want to make the effort of fully quitting.
  • The other reasons I could make up are more romanticized justifications.

Making a side by side comparison, you would logically think quitting immediately won out. However, logic isn’t always the prevailing force in my brain. I eventually switched to vaping, then stopped that because I just wanted cigarettes. I have been on and off nicotine gum for about a month, though I know that has it’s own risks.

Am I completely a non-smoker? I would say that yes, I consider myself on that path now. And, overall it was switching my mentality and how I identified myself that was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. I still struggle with the pangs of being a former smoker, but it’s easier now. I just want to remember this rule though, because it’s not that I NEED a cigarette…I really just need relief.