The Professional Quitters Guide To Quitting Smoking


You know what sucks? Quitting smoking. It’s easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted in my life. But I can now claim to be a a quitting professional: I’ve probably sworn off cigarettes about ten times in the past year alone. That’s a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’m on a pretty good winning streak at the moment. Here are a few things that have helped:

1. Have A Good Reason

Quitting smoking is 50% conviction, and you’re bound to fail without it. It’s important to have your own personal cause that you can rally behind, your own banner to fly. I frequently made the mistake of trying to quit because everyone told me to. My family didn’t want me dying, my ex thought it was gross, blah blah blah. Turns out other people giving a shit doesn’t automatically translate to me giving a shit. I like smoking, so what I really needed was to find justification that meant something to me. Some of you may think, “Hey, I actually want to live forever,” or “Dying of lung cancer sounds awful.” Whatever works for you. For me, it was the realization that I’d like to have kids someday and be around to watch the little idiots grow up. Also, less cheesy, this video that flared up my spiteful, anti-”corporate slave” indignation:


Fuck you, tobacco companies. Maybe the fact that corporations are totally okay with killing people for profit doesn’t upset you. Fine. But if you really want to quit, you need to find a personally meaningful cause or you’ll fail before you even start.

2. Don’t Attempt Cold Turkey

If you’ve decided to quit and still have half a pack sitting there, whatever you do, do not throw it away. Not only is this a nonsensical waste, but cold turkey is simply the worst method of quitting. The trick is finishing a pack slowly, making those remaining cigarettes last you as long as possible, drawing them out across several days until you’re down to one. This helps by gradually reducing the daily nicotine intake, so you’ll be somewhat prepared when that intake is finally reduced to zero (The difference in withdrawal between this method and cold turkey is like the difference between getting hit by a Hummer and getting hit by a locomotive, but every little bit helps).

Then, when you’re down to your last cigarette, enjoy the hell out of it. Throw rose petals on the floor, play some Barry White, have a glass of champagne. Make it a goddamn zen ceremony. Celebrate the love you’ve shared with your little cancer stick. But tell yourself “this is my last smoke,” and don’t go out and buy another pack when it’s over. As heartbreaking as it will be, you need to leave that love behind.

3. Smoke Your Last Cigarette On A Friday

There’s really no “good” day to quit smoking. No matter what, it’s going to suck. I’m sorry. But one of the infamous side effects of nicotine withdrawal is severe irritation, and I’ve found that the first three days are the worst. So instead of subjecting your coworkers to Bruce “That’s my secret: I’m always angry” Banner in the middle of the week, quit on a Friday, then spend the weekend enjoying some quality alone time. Seriously, no one wants to be around a cranky, craving douchebag. It’s better to just become a hermit for three nights than throw some snarky comment at your boss and risk losing your job.

Also keep in mind that drinking will exacerbate the urge to smoke, so try to take it easy on the boozing, or quit smoking on a weekend that you have nothing planned. Or, if you do end up going out, remember that the excuse “Oh, I’m a social smoker now” alerts everyone in the vicinity that you’re the biggest tool in the universe.

4. Download an App

Today, in the Golden Age of Tech, you can be sure that if it exists, there’s an app for it. A lot like Rule 34. Quitting smoking is always much easier with the support of a 3rd party, and modern phones are now capable of providing that support. This is especially useful when you’re a sad excuse for a social being and there are no actual people in your life to offer you words of encouragement. I use QuitNow!, which gives me little digital accolades for things like “20 cigarettes non-smoked,” “Six hours without murdering someone,” and “You saved $100.” The “money saved” notification is especially nice if you live in NYC, where quitting for just a week will save you enough cash to buy a house. That reminder will brighten your day, every day.

QuitNow! also provides a community chat feature to connect you with other quitters for additional moral support. I don’t use it, mainly because it’s solely utilized by horny middle-aged dudes as sex-deprived as they are nicotine-deprived, but hey, if it helps them, cool.  

5. Understand How Smoking Works In Movies

Part of the reason so many of us started smoking was because Hollywood made it seem awesome. I still remember watching some PSA about a woman who blamed Grease for her lung cancer (how do you live with yourself, Olivia Newton John?). Smoking is a film prop designed to make a character seem “cool” or “edgy.” So, to help avoid any temptation or starstudded peer-pressure, try not to watch movies that feature smoking in any form. This usually includes anything with James Dean, Rita Hayworth, John Travolta, Humphrey Bogart, Ron Perlman, Jack Nicholson, Audrey Hepburn, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt… shit, you know what, don’t watch any films that were even remotely good. Hollywood apparently wants us all dead.

But seriously, if you watch movies, just remember that smoking is a lot like being in an exploding helicopter: some people will think it looks awesome, but it’s still going to fucking kill you.

6. Find A Hobby

Smoking, other than being a lung-massacring addiction, is a recreational activity. It’s something to do in the face of boredom, an enjoyable way to spend your time, or an excuse to get outside and avoid whatever lunatic diatribe your significant other has plunged into. Take that away and you’re left with the haunting predicament of having an extra seven minutes, at multiple intervals of the day, that are now completely void of any purpose. What in the name of Holy Joe Camel are you supposed to do with all that extra time? Well, maybe it’s time to find a hobby. Reading, meditation, chess, whatever. To start, I’ve found that two things really help: the internet and keeping your hands busy. And I will now allow you to follow that thought to its logical conclusion.*

7.  Exercise? I guess?

This one’s completely optional, but I’ll suggest it anyway. I’ve heard it’s a great alternative to smoking, but the idea of regimented physical activity is far more offensive to me than self-inflicted emphysema. Keep in mind that that people will often eat a lot to compensate for the oral-fixation factor, and thus quitting smoking sometimes leads to morphing into hulking blobs of human mass. Healthy lungs won’t mean shit if every other vital organ is coated in six inches of walrus blubber. So get out there and run! Let your newly-liberated cardiovascular system do what it was meant to do! I’ll be foolishly banking on my fading mid-20s metabolism, eating Doritos. You got this.

*Furiously typing up offensive responses in Youtube comment sections, obviously. You sick bastards.