"Recounting his decades-long tussle with fags, the “anti-smoking guru” revealed that he chugged through up to 100 a day – and never fewer than 60 – in the face of a hacking cough and a relentless, terrifying fixation with the Grim Reaper. Carr, who died in 2006 but remains famed for his Easyway anti-addiction programme, had been a man possessed. Once, he burnt the back of his hand by trying to put a cigarette in his mouth when another one was already there.
Like many smokers, I have read his account a few times. I can’t be the only one to have thought: “You’re not the worst nicotine addict – because you managed to stop. The worst is surely me.” And lit another fag.
Smokers love a good quitting story. It gives us a frisson of hope. But all the time we’re looking for the “catch” – the quitter was only a “social smoker”; they effortlessly laid off smoking whenever they stayed with their parents; they had a nasty cold and realised afterwards that they had just stopped. Amateurs. Carr’s book didn’t stop me smoking.
My failed attempts
I drank Carr’s kool-aid about 15 years ago before a holiday in the United States and managed, as instructed, to nurture a feeling of excitement about freeing myself from cigarettes. But within days of abstaining I was so poleaxed by depression that I could barely get out of bed, and soon lit up, thinking perhaps nicotine was, for me, a form of self-medication. (I would still recommend this book, and I have met many former smokers for whom it “worked”.)
I smoked 15 cigarettes a day, not 100, but I believe that it is not the numbers but the level of dedication that defines a smoking habit. I tried to brazen it out, but only I knew the depth of my addiction and I carried a deep sense of shame.
I was drawn to cigarettes in my teens and was always a self-hating smoker – but at the same time, smoking was a kind of tortured passion, like a toxic affair with a horribly unsuitable lover. I had almost come to accept that I would die young. At times, it almost seemed worth it.
As well as Carr’s book, I tried nicotine gum, patches and an inhalator, hypnotherapy (twice) and cutting down to just a few cigarettes a day. Nothing worked for more than a few months. But today, I have not smoked a cigarette for a year and I couldn’t be more relaxed about it.
The really strange part is that this time I was not actively trying to give up, just hoping to mitigate my smoking habit a bit.
Finally, a solution that works for me?
I decided to dip a toe into the unpromising waters of e-cigarettes. I had tried them before, picking up a “cigalike” from the chemist, and found them both foul-tasting and weak. (I now know where I was going wrong, of which more later.) But this time my interest had been piqued on learning that my elder daughter’s girlfriend had recently made a complete switch without fuss, and she was no amateur – nothing could tear this girl from her 40 a day.
I decided to do proper research this time. In practice, this meant scrolling through tiresome blogs on commercial e-cigarette sites, all clogged with mystifying jargon. And it meant long – hours long! – conversations with men in vape shops with heavy-metal T-shirts and disfiguring earlobe furniture. (I have yet to see a woman behind a vape-shop counter, or to find a crystal-clear, non-commercial and unbiased guide for learner vapers.)
That was the difficult part. The rest was a breeze. Within a couple of days I was down to one cigarette a day. Within a week, I had given up analogue cigarettes (as vapers call them) completely. I just didn’t feel the need.
The beauty of it, to a conflicted addict like me, was that any relapses – smoking a real cigarette in a weak moment – would not spell the end of the project. You could just hop right back on the wagon. Somehow, the knowledge that I could smoke if I wanted made abstaining easy. But there were no lapses. A year later, I still possess the crumpled remains of my last packet of fags." (Saunders, 2020)
*All credits for this article go to Louisa Saunders from inews.co.uk. To view the original article please follow the URL in the citations*
Saunders, L. (2020, July 10). Vaping helped me give up cigarettes after decades of trying to stop smoking. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/vaping-cigarettes-giving-up-smoking-addiction-396281