Reflections of an ex-smoker

By in Sports & Health

I finally managed to kick smoking completely out of my life this summer. This has been after years of unsuccessful attempts.

Smoking is an incredibly difficult habit to break, and for many it can be difficult to find out how to do it successfully. Everyone is different, so by no means will my experience quitting fit everyone, but perhaps it will be of use to some.

My first experience with smoking came at the age of 15 with some friends, one of whom had just recently purchased a pack of grape flavoured Prime Time cigars. These cigars soon became my go to for the weekends.

While I mostly smoked these cigars in highschool, by the time I was 18 I found myself wanting to try to quit in order to avoid the seemingly inevitable switch to cigarettes and the possibility of becoming, in my mind, a real smoker. So I bought a vaporizer and began my first real attempt at quitting.

However, trying to quit with a vaporizer became a way for me to continue to smoke, while allowing me to tell people that I was using it to quit so they would leave me alone. For the next two years, I bought several different vaporizers and made some progress that would usually be punctuated with returns to cigarettes. This created a habitual cycle of quitting and smoking.

The last stretch of smoking before quitting was several months long, followed by a couple months of using a vaporizer before a final push that combined the use of nicotine gum and my readiness to actually quit.

I think one of the hardest parts about quitting is the thought of succeeding and never smoking again because smoking can be incredibly enjoyable — nobody would do it if it was not enjoyable, at least at some level.

Anyone who has smoked consistently will know what I am talking about, and for those who have not, just imagine giving up your favourite meal for life. If you ever ate it again, it would come with an incredible sense of guilt, failure and what feels like the loss of weeks or months of work.

I think realizing that the battle to quit is largely a mental one is a useful asset to have when in the process of quitting smoking. Keeping the thoughts in your mind that a craving lasts only a few minutes and that withdrawals lessens as time goes by removes the feeling of futility that quitting smoking can have.

Looking back on my own experience in quitting smoking and trying to draw advice from it can be difficult, as my situation was conducive to quitting smoking — I have emotional and lifestyle stability that I did not have in my first attempts.

However, I can say that a big part of quitting is finding the right time to do it. Trying to quit a week before finals in my first year of university was one of the most naive things I’ve ever done, but I found success during the less stressful summer months.

As far as the actual act of quitting goes, I think the best tool to have is to know yourself. Finding the emotions, locations and aspects of your routine that are a connected to your smoking habit allows you to rework them to suit a non-smoking lifestyle. There is no universal method for quitting that works for everyone, but a good way to start is by figuring out what works best for you.

Jack Thompson / Sports & Health Editor

Graphic: Lesia KaralashGraphics Editor