How to quit smoking for holidays

Melissa Treolo

Oh the heavenly delights of smoking. First the initial light-up, and then you are just milliseconds away from the bliss that comes from inhaling and then exhaling that oh so lovely, nicotine saturated, carcinogenic cloud of smoke. You are cool. Your sense of purpose in a world full of chaos is now defined by the skillful and seemingly effortless way you hold your cigarette between index and middle finger. As you bring that stick of sanity preservation to your lips, you inevitably have only four words on your mind: Thank God for smoking.

Wait. This is supposed to be a column about how to quit smoking. Sorry, got a little carried away there.

Okay, if you are a human being residing on planet earth you are probably very much aware that smoking is bad for you. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart problems, bad body odor, really bad breath and the list goes on. Be that as it may this appalling list of smoking-induced attributes doesn’t seem to be enough to get upwards of 46 million Americans, not to mention those millions living outside the United States, to buy a patch, throw the cigarettes in the toilet and quit.

As a former smoker who has quit and started and quit and started more times than I should probably admit to in print, I can understand how hard it is. Not only is the nicotine found in cigarettes a physically addicting substance, but smoking said nicotine just feels so damn good. And all that health problem stuff? Definitely nothing to worry about now. You don’t very often hear about anyone under the age of 60 dying from lung cancer.

Not to worry. Though the odds are stacked as high as that supply of cigarette cartons in your freezer, the means of quitting are at your yellowed fingertips.

First you will need a heady dose of will power – you know the thing you left behind at that gas station boasting a two packs for the price of one special? Tell yourself over and over again, “I will quit. I will quit.” And when you start to get the shakes and that horrible feeling of withdrawal in the pit of your stomach, you may almost believe it.

Next I would suggest buying candy by the truckload. Keep a bag of it on hand to help stave off those “I need a cigarette in my mouth” cravings. Pop a fruity Jolly Rancher in your mouth instead. Works like a charm, but only temporarily. Hence the need for a truckload supply of them.

One of the best things to do is to find something to keep your mind off of things. Shop, watch T.V., go out with friends. Addictive personalities beware, however. You don’t want to trade one addiction for another.

Finally don’t, under any circumstances, cheat. Don’t say to yourself, “Just one more.” Don’t sneak off to light up one when no one is watching. This is not a “if nobody sees the tree fall in the forest” kind of scenario. Don’t keep a pack on hand just in case you might find yourself in a desperate situation. This is a downward spiral, my friend. Take it from one who knows.

Basically the best thing to do is anything, within reason, that will keep you from smoking. Try the patch if it works for you, chew the gum. Try not to think of the fond memories you’ve had with your friends, that always reliable pack of Kamel Red Lights. You will only be torturing yourself. Life is all about moving forward and cigarettes are best left behind in a cloud of smoke.