Tuesday, 29 June 2010


I'd been told that my life would change, that I would have to make sacrifices. I would have to give up smoking, give up drinking, forget about anything approximating a social life.

The drinking and the social life didn't worry me too much; the one that scared me was smoking. I had come to rely on that little white stick so much. A cigarette was the separator between parts of my day. It was my reward for completing a task, my consolation for doing something that I didn't enjoy.

I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to quit smoking.

Then it happened: While lurking on reddit.com's stopsmoking section, I came across references to Allen Carr's Easy Way. A little reading told me that I was supposed to read the book and keep smoking while I worked my way through it. At the end of the book, I wouldn't smoke any more. The book even instructs you to smoke at one point: to put down the book and go smoke a cigarette. There's no shock tactics in the book, and no gimmicks.

Now, I'm not trying to plug a product, and I'm not sure that this would work for most people, but I read the book. Now I don't smoke, and have no desire to - not because of any shock tactics it used, but because it helped me realize two things.

The first thing was that, in any addiction, when your cravings are at their worst, it's the last dose that made you feel this way - don't think about the next dose bringing relief - that's temporary. This is the feeling of being a nicotine addict. It's like wearing a pair of too-small shoes and feeling the relief when you take them off. It's a fraud.

The second was that nobody needs to give-up smoking. 'giving up' makes it sound like a sacrifice when, in fact, you're not sacrificing anything - you have only to gain from not smoking, your health, your finances and your social life can only improve.

I'm three weeks free of cigarettes after nearly twenty years as a smoker, and it was so easy. Every time I've tried before I struggled so badly, all it took was an hour of my time and a cheap book.