24 Hours Smoke Free

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Hi, my name is Carrie. I'm a Healthline employee...and a cigarette smoker. So you might ask, how can one work at an online company devoted to providing up-to-date health care information to the public and still smoke? Well, it's not easy, and I certainly don't advertise it...well, until now. Today, and in the following weeks, I will be guest blogging for Dr. Kleinman. You see, I'm a "contemplator," which is known in the smoking cessation world as one who thinks of quitting, but just hasn't quite done the deed. Today is the Great American Smokeout, so I thought this would be an opportune time to try and quit for, at least, a day. Last night, just before the clock struck 12, I polished off a glass of wine and smoked my last cigarette. To be honest, it was quite heavenly. I suppose it's analogous to having a chocolate chip cookie right before you start an all protein diet. I savored every inhale and then I said, "Good bye, Mr. Cigarette," as I squelched its fire in the ash tray.

With the quit smoking tips suggested by Deborah, Dr. Kleinman's wife and partner at the Quit Smoking Center, I will be trudging through the day without a cigarette. So far, I've had three diet Pepsis and gone through one piece of gum and a couple of hard candies--all of it sugarless. Not bad for the beginning of the afternoon. Of course, I'm about to kill someone. Deborah and I talked for about an hour yesterday about how to plan for this day, as well as quitting forever. For today, Deborah gave me several tips for dealing with the cravings...the cravings that start to simmer and then bubble over like lava from a volcano. I think I'm starting to get itchy. Anyway, below are the tips I received from her:

  • Line up support people: Have coworkers and friends check on you to see how you're faring. Have them take you out to lunch to celebrate your smoke free day (so far, I've only been teased and ignored. Free lunch?! Fat chance...Thanks, everyone!)
  • Avoid the "scene of the urge": I'm not talking about the local bakery here. I'm talking about where you typically take your smoke break. You just might have to avoid coworkers and friends who smoke. (This actually isn't so bad for me. I've irritated most of the smokers in the office, by trying to get them to join me in this effort. That's okay--they smell anyway.)
  • Deep breaths: Take deep breaths for as long as it would take you to finish a cigarette. Make sure you do this in an area with no smoke. Have faith that the craving will go away. Deborah assures me that it does. (I'm practicing my deep breaths right now. My coworker on the other side of the cubicle wall thought there was a perverted old man peeping in on her.)
  • Walk or climb the stairs: Exercise can help with those itchy cravings. (I wore my walking boots today,because that's what they were made to do)
  • Get your supplies: Gum (regular and with nicotine), sugarless hard candies, healthy snacks, mint toothpicks, straws cut in half for chewing and pretending, hot tea, and a special snack. (Here's a picture of my supplies: party straws to celebrate this smoke free day; sugarless hard candies; my healthy snacks--carrots and nuts; tennis shoes for the marathon I will run later; and my special treat, organic Cheetos with no trans fat.)
  • "Scramble your day": Turn off the auto-pilot in your brain and take a different route to work, fold some origami, watch an extremely intense documentary which requires deep thinking--basically do something that will take your mind off your cravings.
  • Predict and then plan: The day before you quit, identify the times you typically have a cigarette through the course of the day. Determine what strategies you will use to control your cravings at these times.

The two main things to remember are to practice slow deep breathing and to remind yourself that the craving will go away. You may even want to choose a mantra to cycle through your head. Mine is "a lot of guys won't date girls who smoke." Besides this reason, there are a lot more for quitting smoking:

  • Oral cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Emphysema
  • Wrinkles - "Smoking produces oxygen-free radicals, which are known to accelerate wrinkles and aging skin disorders and increase the risk for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Studies also suggest that smoking and subsequent oxidation produce higher levels of metalloproteinases, which are enzymes associated with wrinkles."
  • Your kids or future kids
So if you're a smoker, I really hope you will consider quitting for at least one day. Use the tips provided above, and remember "a lot of guys won't date girls who smoke." And the cravings will eventually go away! All right, everyone. I'll keep you updated on the status of my progress. Leave a comment and let me know how you're doing with quitting. Have a smoke-free day!

P.S. Hi Mom and Dad! I know that you started reading the blogs recently to help support my new career. I really appreciate it. So you may be a little shocked to find out that I'm a smoker, and I just now outed myself. I just want to say I'm sorry. You did not raise me to be a smoker; you tried to instill good values in my judgment process. I don't know what went wrong, but it's not your fault. Please don't be mad--I'm trying to do the right thing now. Can't wait to see you for Christmas!!
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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