Do e-cigarettes really help people quit smoking the real things?
I have my doubts. There are two people I know of who are just as addicted to e-cigs as they were to the Marlboros and Kools they used to smoke.
The verdict is still out about just how safe those vapors are. But I hope they don’t ban them. If they help even some people quit smoking, they’re worth it.
As a long-time smoker, I know what a trial it is to stop smoking. In 1987, I quit, cold turkey, for six months. All it took was “just one” cigarette one day, and I was right back at it again – a pack a day.
Six years ago, on a Feb. 10 afternoon, I was sitting at my kitchen table. I tamped out the cigarette in my ashtray, then crumpled up an empty pack of Basic menthols, tossed it into the trash and said, “That’s it! I’m done! I quit!”
Neighbor Marty, who was sitting there, burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Oh, I’ve heard that one before,” she said, still laughing.
“Yeah, well, you old skeptic, I have news for you. This time I’m really serious.”
“I’ll bet you 10 bucks,” she said.
“OK, it’s a deal,” I said, and we shook on it.
A month later, she popped over, slapped a 10-dollar bill on the stove and said with mock disgust, “Here’s your %##!** 10 dollars.” Then she said, “Well, congratulations. You did it. But I’m glad I didn’t bet more!”
Later, Marty admitted one day, a week after my resolution to quit, she’d snuck up to the kitchen window one night and stood on tip-toes to peek in to see if I was sneaking a cigarette. Just then, seeing no smoke signals, she slipped on ice in the yard and fell on her butt. Shame on you, Marty. Served you right.
I’ve often said, and I’ll say it again: If I could quit smoking, anybody can. I was one of those who actually enjoyed smoking, not because it was an addiction so much as it was an almost sensual pleasure – smoking with a cup of coffee in the morning, smoking with a glass of beer on my deck, smoking after a good dinner. People who have never smoked just do not understand how it can be pleasurable. That is why it’s hard for them to imagine why people don’t – or can’t – just quit.
I want to assure even the most hard-core smokers that yes, you too can quit. Here’s how to do it:
I recommend quitting cold-turkey. Going through the few rough days, I believe, can boost determination to stay smoke-free. Using patches, gum or e-cigs, in my opinion, can fool the quitter into thinking, “Oh well, just one more pack of smokes, then I can always use the gum or patches again when I decide next time to quit.” But if those aids do the trick, go for it.
First, it’s important to choose good reasons to quit. Then write down those reasons and stick them to the fridge with a magnet. Here were just some of mine: The house smelling like a skid-row saloon. Pets with their little lungs having to breathe in all that smoke. Emptying filthy ashtrays. Tired of buying cigarettes and paying so much for them. House fire. If I don’t stop, I’ll be lugging around an oxygen tank sooner than I think. I want to prove to myself I can really do it after the disappointment (and shame) of my failed 1987 attempt to quit. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
After you list your reasons, make another list of things you can do besides smoking. When you crave one, consult the list and do something else. Do not sit in places where you used to smoke. Don’t hang around with any smokers for at least one week.
When you crave a smoke, immediately get up and do something, anything: Move to another room, do the dishes, go for a quick walk, eat a snack, drink a beverage. If you’re feeling ambitious, do something physical: sit-ups, pull-ups, running in place, jogging down the block.
Whenever you feel you’re about to cave in to temptation, review your “Reasons to Quit” list, and then do something on your “Do List.” Visualize your poor old lungs getting fresh, pink and restored instead of stinky, black and wheezy.
Make bets – lots of bets – with your skeptical friends and neighbors. In a month or so, you will feel better, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a smoke-free life and you can sport an I-told-you-so grin when collecting all that bet money.