12 Ex-Smokers Reveal What Helped Them Actually Quit Smoking for Good

While some people have all the intentions to quit smoking for good, it becomes a bigger challenge than they ever expected. Between the temptations, the stress, and withdrawal, it’s hard to kick a familiar habit. The good news is that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Middle-aged man coughing
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“I was sick all the time”

At times all it takes is a wake up call about your health that makes you want to improve it. “I quit smoking for good because I was tired of constantly being sick. In fact, I found out later that I was asthmatic and that was probably the reason I was always sick.” —Dara Avenius

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Pregnant woman sitting on bed
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“I got pregnant”

One reason some former smokers say they stopped is because they were bringing a child into the world. “I was down to two cigarettes a day and couldn’t seem to give them up until I went into my son’s eight-week sonogram. I walked out of there and never looked back. I haven’t smoked since then and he will be six years old in January.” —Razoni McClellan, 41

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College graduates taking a selfie
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“I was about to graduate college”

Setting up a “quitting smoking timeline” for yourself can quickly put things in perspective. “I quit smoking for good back when I was a senior in college because I didn’t want to enter the ‘real world’ as a smoker. I did it cold turkey on New Years Eve in 1999.” —Susan Cornick, 47

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Patient undergoing hypnosis
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“I tried hypnosis”

Not everyone can quit cold turkey, which is why you may have to try different strategies to get you to stop. “I tried everything from Chantix (twice) to Nicorette. Finally I worked with noted hypnotist Ricky Kalman who taught me how to do self-hypnosis. It worked for a while but then I stopped and went back to smoking. Finally, about a year ago I caught a cold that turned into bronchitis. I think the health scare coupled with the hypnosis kicking in and I haven’t smoked since.” —Val Allen

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Woman applying toothpaste to toothbrush
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“I brushed my teeth”

Just like some people turn to chewing gum to ween themselves off cigarettes, sometimes a healthy hygiene habit can be a positive influence. “One of my foolproof tricks to stop myself from smoking was to brush my teeth every time I craved a cigarette. Needless to say, it worked!” —Audrey Fix Schaefer

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Winter snow storm on highway
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“There was a blizzard”

Ever wonder how to quit smoking? Testing your will power can show you how strong you really are and can put you one step closer to quitting. “A blizzard in New York City made me quit. The roads were closed, and I was not walking 10 blocks to the closest corner store. So I ran out… and thought it would be interesting to see how long I could go without a cigarette. When I started calculating how much I was saving by not buying them anymore, I decided to quit for good!” —Reyne Hirsch

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"No smoking sign" on street
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“I could no longer smoke at work”

If you were a heavy smoker for years and suddenly got employed by a company that didn’t allow you to smoke near the facility, you may be motivated to quit. “I smoked for 10 years and then I started to work for a company that had a policy of no smoking on the property. I worked in a nightclub and there was no smoking in the club. I worked for the Board of Ed on Long Island and no smoking was permitted anywhere around the kids. One day I was posted on the first floor of the building and a fight broke out on the third floor…I ran from the first floor to the third floor and my heart was pounding to the point I saw stars. I thought I was about to black out at that point and that’s when I knew it was time to stop.” —Andrew Wiles, 62

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Stack of Canadian $20 bills
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“I quit because it was expensive”

The prices of cigarettes are high and getting higher. “My mother was in the hospital and almost died right around the same time [I became a dad], because she’d been smoking for over 40 years. Between June 2015 and December 2015, the temptation was pretty bad. I was helping my mother move, studying, and finishing school. It was just stress upon stress upon stress. I almost bought a pack of cigarettes. And then I saw the price tag and said, ‘nah, I don’t really need this.'” —Stephen Giusto, 37

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Two lollipops and assorted candies
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“I sucked on lollipops”

If you’re looking to quit smoking, it can be a smart idea to trade the bad habit for a good (or at least OK) one. “My husband John started smoking in high school. We tried three times to quit before we were successful. To get rid of cravings, we both sucked on lollipops, we ate more, tried to avoid sitting too long at the table with our coffee because we enjoyed smoking with a cup at that time. I thought that I would always crave a cigarette but I don’t. I would never even dream of taking a puff, because I feel its like being an alcoholic. One puff and I might be back to a pack or more a day.” —Arlene Vernaleo, 66

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Pack of cigarettes
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“I weaned myself off”

Some people can quit cold turkey while others need time to end their smoking habit. “When I was ready to quit in October 1988, I weaned myself off gradually. On each pack of smokes I put a post-it note on which I drew 20 small circles, one for each cigarette. My goal was to smoke two cigarettes less from each pack each day. Every time I lit up I imagined my children’s mother telling me I smelled of cigs. I imagined my oldest daughter Jessica asking me to quit smoking. I imagined my new baby daughter Hilary and my desire to live long enough to see her grow up. This process resulted in going from roughly three packs a day to six a day in less that six months.” —Joseph Rainey, 75

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Cigarette with Nicorette gum
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“I went cold turkey”

Sometimes it’s plain and simple as quitting as whole without baby steps. “I stopped smoking 32 years ago the minute I found out I was pregnant. All I can say is going cold turkey is the way to go about it. Lollipops helped a lot with the oral fixation, as did chewing gum, and I brushed my teeth a lot too. I drank lots of water and chewed gum. Now I can’t stand the smell, but my husband who still smokes knows that he is not allowed to smoke in house or my car either.” —Angela Badamo Conran, 61

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Man smoking cigarette
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“I went on vacation”

If you are self aware enough to know that you have an addiction, it may help to give yourself a break from the addiction to see what life feels like without it. You may find that it’s not as bad as you expected and start off on a clean slate. “It all started when I was on vacation for my 30th birthday, with my boyfriend at the time and he hated me smoking, so it was hard to smoke while there without him complaining. One night he was sleeping, and I went to smoke. I couldn’t find any matches or my lighter and was super frustrated, so for the rest of the trip I decided not to smoke. When I got home, I thought, if I haven’t smoked for three days, I can continue. It was tough because I’d smoked for 12 years. I had to learn to live my life all over with no cigarettes and I even stayed away from smoking friends for about the first month. The trick for me was knowing I can never ever even have a puff. More than five years later, a cigarette still hasn’t touched these lips!” —Latifa Hines, 35

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