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5 Real Secrets of Smokers Who Quit Permanently

A lot of smokers talk about quitting. It's a frequent topic of conversation for them. Yet many never actually quit. As a hypnotist in the Windy (and smoky) City, I know a lot of smokers who do quit. Many quit through hypnosis, often with my assistance.

But not all.

Some smokers quit in other ways, sometimes completely on their own. I'm interested in them because they have done what many claim is impossible. So I seek them out, talk to them, grill them-and learn their valuable secrets.

This article is about five elements (characteristics or tactics) often present in smokers who quit successfully, no matter what method they used.

My research is unscientific. I offer the information because I believe it will help others, maybe you or your friends.

If you are a smoker, and find yourself disagreeing intensely with these smoking cessation approaches, or methods, consider them only as possibilities. Experiments, if you will. To play with, adapt, and make your own. Or to rebel against as you discover a way that's better for you.

Please tell me about those new ways; I may include your suggestions in a subsequent article. In the meantime, here are the smoking-cessation secrets I've uncovered:

-Secret 1: Your reason for quitting

It's not just that you quit-it's also the why, or, more precisely, the impetus.

The most successful quitters quit for themselves. Not for a spouse or lover, relative, friend, or even a cause. They quit because they want to quit. Some say simply "It was time." Did they do it to improve health, or help fight off illness?

Maybe. But rarely did anyone give that as the primary, gut-level reason. The real reason they named was secondary to simply making the choice to quit.

-Secret 2: Quit all at once

Many successful quitters quit smoking in one fell swoop. Few used the tapering-off approach, smoking fewer cigarettes each day. Many said about this tapering-off approach, "It may sound easier, but I just knew it wouldn't work for me."Those who quit all at once didn't have the difficulty of weaning themselves off nicotine (and the tactile habit) while constantly reintroducing it to themselves as taperers do.

-Secret 3: Get support or tell no one-it's an individual preference

An equal number got support from friends and family as told no one about it. Interesting, yes? Again: my sample was small, so nothing statistically-valid can be said about the effectiveness of asking for support vs. doing it on your own, privately.

Still, it's interesting that in this small selection of smoke-quitters, both ways worked equally well.

It seemed to depend on the personality of the person quitting smoking: some were fiercely independent and resented advice, urging, and even friendly checking-in. When these people told no one, they did better.

But others enjoyed getting help, moral support, and tips from someone already successful at smoking cessation. People who liked back-up support in other areas of their lives often made good use of it in stopping smoking, too.

Conversely, people who read friends' checking-in as interference or judgment were better off not consulting with others. Yet even these quitters got benefit from professionals if they specifically sought out and paid for the assistance, utilizing coaches, hypnotists, smoking-cessation workshops or groups, CD's or tapes.

I suspect it is a matter of your own life circumstance and personality. And, frankly, how your friends, acquaintances and relatives behave around this specific issue.

Some people said they knew they had better tell those around them so they would not be offered hard-to-refuse smokes while in the process of quitting.

Others took the opposite point-of-view, especially with friends who were still dedicated smokers. They didn't tell because they didn't want to be challenged, tempted or taunted. If offered a smoke, they responded that they had just had one, or begged off due to a cold.

Some didn't even tell their nonsmoker friends: "Just in case I went back to smoking again, I didn't want to make a big declaration about it."

When asked why, they said something like "Because I don't like to be hassled-even if the intentions are good."

-Secret 4: Acknowledge the specific benefits of not smoking

Once the decision to quit was made, at least tentatively, successful quitters intentionally noticed and remarked to themselves (and sometimes others) about the advantages of not smoking.

One client told her friends how she was no longer getting winded while climbing the stairs. Another mentioned she could taste her food better, and so was satisfied with less.

There were proud comments about clothes and homes smelling cleaner and fresher, without that "old cigarette smell." And about "making up my mind and just doing what I said!"

The more pride about these achievements, the greater impetus to become a nonsmoker and remain one.

A few former smokers said they made an attempt everyday to discover new benefits of quitting every day.

-Secret 5: Become an example and a teacher

Making oneself an exemplar is not for everyone.

Some prefer greater privacy, others think it's pompous or showy, and still others are private people, or worry about embarrassment if they were to return to smoking at some time in the future.

But for those willing to tell, there is more motivation to stay quit if the world knows you now claim to be a nonsmoker. "It keeps me honest," a hypnosis client told me after staying quit for six months, "I tell everyone."

Five years later, her plan is still working.

If you do tell, consider doing it in the spirit of confiding, helping and being friendly. Not to embarrass others. Not to be arrogant. Not to make smokers feel weak, unintelligent, or inferior if they haven't quit yet.

Do it to let them know, subtly, that it may be possible for them too. That it is do-able, even by someone who took x number of years to do it. And that you can be counted on for help if needed.

If you stay humble, you will be of real help, sometimes when you least expect it. 2008 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.


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