Read the Fine Print

Carrie here! So I haven't completely quit smoking, but I think about it alot. After the Great American Smokeout, I was smoke free for about 3 days; that's cumulative, of course, not exactly in a row. BUT I've cut back, gosh, about 50%. I thought this was pretty good--instead of 7 to 10, I'm down to about 3 to 4 cigarettes a day... give or take (depends on the day really). Dr. Kleinman's last post was quite interesting to me. I have to say, I skimmed it at first. And that's when I learned that skimming information is not really the best way to learn. His latest post is about how cutting back actually doesn't appear to be better for some. Basically, a person cutting back sucks those fewer cigarettes down to the bone, getting more toxins per cigarette than others who smoke the same amount. Well, I just about fell out of my chair when I read this. In my efforts to kick the habit, I've established the guideline of no cigarettes before noon. Now I'm reading that cutting back really doesn't make much of a difference? So I could have been having my morning cigarette all this time? All those mornings when I was so lonesome for Mr. Cigarette, walking on my way to work. We could have been strolling along, laughing and giggling together, instead of my chewing mint flavored nicotine gum. All those mornings...

Well, obviously I had to reread Dr. Kleinman's post. The shock of it was too much for my brain to handle. The detail that I overlooked during my initial screening was that these effects were seen in HEAVY smokers trying to cut back--not light ones, like myself. To be honest, realizing that little tidbit of info didn't make me feel any better about abstaining from Mr. Morning Cigarette. I still miss him. Facing the grind of the work day with him by my side was comforting.

I talked to Mrs. Quit (Deborah Kleinman) several days ago about quitting for good. She doesn't recommend quitting around the holidays. It's a stressful time of the year, where you are thrown off your regular schedule--not to mention all of the holiday parties. (This past Thursday through Saturday really tested my cutting back efforts.) You're pretty much setting yourself up for failure. I did mention to Deborah that I was going to visit my parents for Christmas, where I would refrain from puffing for a few days. She called this "abstaining from smoking." This is not quitting. To quit you have to be committed to making changes in your everyday life. Changes to my everyday life...hmmm. With a new year just around the corner, I think change would be a good thing. I have other unhealthy habits that need to be kicked to the curb, like not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Have you started your list of New Year's resolutions, yet?

I will be starting the quit smoking program administered by Deborah at the end of January with my actual quit date tentatively set for Valentine's Day. There's a couple of weeks of preparation before the decided day of leaving Mr. Cigarette and venturing into a new life without him. There's homework involved (I thought I was done with that stuff) along with counseling sessions. I'm excited to see how the program works and what other changes it will bring into my life.

So who wants to quit with me? I will be blogging about the quit tips provided by Deborah that could help you give up lighting up. Leave comments as to how you're doing, or email your stories to me, (carrie) at (healthline) dot (com) with "Quit Smoking Story" in the subject line, and I will publish them in a blog post. We'll form our very own virtual support group. So what do you say? It's time to leave bad habits back in 2006 and embrace change in 2007!

Death cigarettes photograph courtesy of the National Cancer Institute by Bill Branson
Heart photograph courtesy of hugovk
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

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