How I Quit Smoking the Easy Way

One of the best emails I’ve ever received was a thank you from a girl who had read my Dear Lungs post and used it to help her quit smoking. She told me that she printed it out and kept it under her computer keyboard and every time she wanted a smoke she read my letter and it kept her from lighting up. It made me so happy to hear that I had helped someone unknowingly just by helping myself.

Since then I’ve actually gotten quite a few emails from other smokers asking me how I quit and if I could give them some helpful tips. So since this could be helpful to anyone who may be interested in giving up my absolute favorite addiction, I decided to take the time and share with you all how I quit smoking the easy way.

Smoking Section

But first I’ll tell you how it all began. . .

I started smoking in high school, specifically in the back seat of my friend Amy’s car. I don’t remember it being horrible rather, I remember thinking hmmm …it’s not that bad. After years of telling my father to quit smoking, I had become a hypocrite. Back in high school though, I only smoked on the weekends and at parties and never bought my own packs. I remained a social smoker until I was 19 …until that New Year’s Day, after waking up at a slumber party to everyone lighting up for breakfast I thought GROSS! …well, I’m not a “real smoker” until it’s the first thing I want upon waking. The very next morning, I got out of bed and went outside and smoked my first morning cigarette.

I liked the idea of smoking. It was a rebellion thing for me. It came from a place of having been told how “cute” I was my entire life. Smoking, I thought would show “the world” just how “cute” I was not. It was lame, I admit it, but it was that same thinking that also spawned my early tattoos and piercings. But after the initial reasoning, I simply became addicted …and I loved smoking. Like. Loved. It.

I loved smoking with coffee in the mornings. I loved smoking in my car, arm out the window. I loved “smoke breaks” from work. I loved social smoking outside of events with others. I loved smoking when I was drunk. I loved blowing smoke rings. I loved smoking on the patio while doing crossword puzzles. I loved smoking with my brother while chatting, drinking Dr. Pepper on ice and playing darts in the backyard when we were young and oh wow how that sounds white trash. I loved everything about it. I didn’t care that I was constantly clearing my throat and spitting lugies out my car window {yeah, classy}. I didn’t care that my hair constantly smelled like Vegas. The only thing I worried about was future wrinkles. Vanity. But that’s not what got me to quit.

I knew somewhere in the depths of my identity, that I would quit by the time I turned 30. And though I tried several times before then, I always went back to it within days. I couldn’t go even one day without one. I was afraid to quit. I was afraid I would gain weight. I was afraid of who I was if I wasn’t a smoker. Smoking became the way I handled and dealt with reality. I smoked when I was happy. I smoked when I was sad. I smoked when I was angry. There was always a reason to smoke and I was afraid of how to deal with all of those reasons if I didn’t have cigarettes to help me get through them.

But I knew that I wanted to be done by 30 …and 30 was coming up.

smoking-patio-Thanksgiving - 2003
Thanksgiving ~ 2003 {27 years old, sleepy-eyed from a turkey nap with a real bob not a faux bob}

I don’t remember how I came upon this book, whether I found it randomly at a book store or if my husband brought it home for me but regardless, I had in my possession a book by Allen Carr titled The Easy Way to Stop Smokingwhich grabbed my attention immediately not only because of the words EASY WAY but because I had heard or read somewhere that you were to continue smoking while reading this book. So I thought, hey, no pressure, I’ll take it out to the patio and read it while I smoked.

And because sometimes I can be the biggest procrastinator on the planet, I began reading it about one month before my 30th birthday. And I took my time. And I smoked …and read …and smoked while reading. And it. actually. worked.

When I finished the book, I had about 7 cigarettes left in my pack. Now, any smoker will tell you that you just don’t throw away gold like that and honestly, I knew if I did, I would fish them out of the trash {like Costanza did with the donut on Seinfeld} and smoke them down. I didn’t want to give them away either. So I kept them. In fact, I left them out on the patio table, where I could be tempted by them hourly but I took a black Sharpie and wrote on each of them phrases like: This is Poison. This is not the answer. This won’t help. And I didn’t smoke even one. For some reason I overlooked the actual poison in the cigarette and focused on how horrible it would be to smoke the chemicals the Sharpie pen had left on them. I know.

poison+cigarettes

The book was fantastic but you have to believe it like it’s your religion or it will not work for you. You have to let it brainwash you into thinking it is 100% right regardless of the truth or it will not work. But besides the reading and the writing on my left-over fags, I had to sort of set up a ritual to take place of or mimic my smoking ritual because that was part of the fun as well. So I set up a 1000 piece puzzle on my patio table. And every time I craved a cigarette I would go out there and do a bit of the puzzle. It gave my hands something to do …like smoking did. It gave my brain something to do and it allowed me to simulate the smoking experience in a way because I still in essence, got the 5-10 minute outside breaks that smoking gave me. It wasn’t easy, it was in fact hard work …but it did work.

In the following weeks there were times I would get so angry or so freaked out and I thought man, if I could just have a cigarette right now, I would be fine. And I had to literally talk back to the voice in my head -the one that thought a cigarette was the answer- and say “Really? Really you think inhaling poison is going to make you feel better?” and with the visual of the writing “This is poison” on the cigarettes, it really sunk in.

It was hard. I was angry. I remember screaming into my bed pillows and slamming them on the bed so hard I hurt my arm. It was a challenge but it was something I had to overcome.

I had my last smoke on June 8, 2006, exactly 7 days after my 30th birthday and I know if I ever have even one ever again, I will be a smoker again. I like it too much not to. Or at least that’s what I have to believe to keep away from them. And while I’ve had my moments of gazing at smokers, wishing I were one of them, I’ve been smoke free for over 4 years now.

It took an entire year for me to be okay with the person I was after quitting. It took an entire year for me to relearn how to be without cigarettes. A YEAR! It was after my 31st birthday that I knew I had quit for good because up until then I was still on edge.

When it comes down to it, you can only quit for you. If you’re quitting for someone else it will never stick. And you have to give up the word “TRY” from your vocabulary. If you’re “TRYING” to quit you’re not actually “QUITTING” …you’re just trying. It’s as simple as that. You’re either doing it or not …but when you decide to do it, you will …just like I did.

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, and home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life with her husband and adorable dogs, two Frenchies & an old Pug in wheels. Here you will find her talking about their journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation up to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life.

38 Comments

  • Steph~

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    I quit 13 months ago, best thing I ever did! You described the quitting experience almost to a T to what it was like for me as well. I also know that I can Never Ever, smoke even one cigarette again or I will be right back at it. Like you, I just loved all the aspects of it (socially not physically)
    Congrats on your 4 years!

  • Veronika

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    what a great post! I smoked socially up until about 3 years ago when I saw my mom’s second husband go from being a normal guy one day to being dead 2 months after being diagnosed suddenly with mouth cancer. I thought of how stupid it was to be an occasional smoker—i was never addicted…so why did I do it? it was stupid.

    I haven’t had one since and never plan to…I actually find it disgusting now. The smell, seeing people smoke etc…it just makes me feel sick now. I guess that’s a good thing though. Thanks for sharing this with some of your readers who are trying to take the steps to quit! you could help save a life!

  • FASHION SNAG

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Even though I don’t smoke and I have never tried it I really enjoyed reading this post. I think everyone has a crutch or something they do when they are angry, sad, happy. We all have our vices. I really like the puzzle idea a lot. I used to do a lot of them and you have now got me searching for some to buy online to occupy my time. Also, the photo of you in the pink cropped sweater is so cute! Congratulations on being smoke free Maegan =) I liked the Seinfeld reference too. xoxo

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Brown Girl

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Congrats on getting rid of the cancer sticks. I smoked for a couple of years and when I started dating my fiance he did not smoke or care for smokers and I wanted him more than the cigs, so I quit. Just like that. One day I just said I quit. And I did. You’re right, when you decide to do it, you will!!

  • esdelope

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Maegan – I can’t even begin to think about how much I admire you from this post. You are the picture of strength and honesty!

    Becca

  • The Pretty Pauper

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    I was only ever a social smoker (and I haven’t since college 4 years ago). My grandma smoked for 60 years and she quit about 2 years ago after she had a scare and the doctor told her she had one foot in the grave. Even at 82 years old, her health and breathing has improved significantly since she gave up smoking. I give a lot of props to people who quit. It’s not an easy thing and my grandma has proven that anyone can do it!

    -Amanda
    (The Pretty Pauper)
    prettypauperstyle.blogspot.com

  • Poppy

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    I use to smoke when I was 18/19 then quit up until I was 23. I was so stressed out with work & friends that I started smoking again. Now I promise myself that I’m down to my last pack. But it is definitely hard to quit when you’re at a social gathering & everyone else is puffing away.

  • Jennie

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    You show so much strength and honesty. Congrats on quitting.
    I have never smoked I am an asthmatic and smoke also triggers migraines for me. By quitting you promise a little bit easier breathing for people like me that your path crosses. Thank you.

  • diane

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Your example shows that smoking, and quitting smoking is an individual thing for each person. I could never have had the will power to do it your way.
    My way: Rolling my own American Spirit organic additive free tobacco for almost a year before I gave it up. By the time I quit, I was down to about four small hand rolled cigarettes a day. I quit on my 51st birthday. At that point I was only “kicking” tobacco because there were no additives in it. It was weird. There was no withdrawal, no cravings. I never missed it. It’s been over a year. I think the additives are making it really hard for people to quit, honestly. Bravo to you for being able to quit the way you did. Hugs. xo d

  • Amber's Notebook

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Excellent post. I am going to print up this post (hope that’s okay) and buy that book for a friend of mine. I know they will relate to this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kez

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    I smoked when I was young. I was trying to rebel. I also always had a fascination with the smell of tobacco since I was young – a curiosity.
    I sometimes still wonder if I feel like a cigarette. It’s been years. Weird.

    Anyway, great post. I wish my sister in law would read this. Her brother is dying of cancer and she is smoking like crazy to deal with the stress…it worries me that she hasn’t connected the dots on that one. I don’t want my family to lose any more people before their time.

  • Gabby / Gypsy*Diaries

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Oh Maegan… ntil about half of the post it sounded like I wrote this post… I loved to smoke but just like you I drcided to quit and I’m smoke free for 17 months. Hard work but so worth it…. Thanks for your story and keep going! Happy weekend babe! xxx

    http://gypsy-diaries.blogspot.com/

  • Catherine

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks so much for this post. I love your openness and honesty. I keep telling people that I’m GOING to quit, or I’m TRYING to quit. But I know it’s rubbish. I just say it to make them and myself feel better. I keep making deadlines for myself like, ‘I’ll quit when I finish uni’ or ‘I’ll quit after the summer’ but the deadlines keep getting extended. I’ve gone from about 5 a day to just somking socially but on a night out I can get through an entire packet and my lungs feel it the next day. I’m still very much ‘in love’ with smoking at the moment but I hope that the time will come soon when I make the decision to quit for good. I know I don’t still want to be puffing away into old age.

  • Anonymous

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    YOU LOOK MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL AND YOUNGER NOW THAN AT THANKSGIVING 2003!! JUST HANGING A BEFORE AND AFTER (NOW) PHOTO OF YOU IS PROOF AND INCENTIVE ENOUGH FOR SMOKERS WHO WANT TO QUIT!! (THE BOOK, TOO) THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION, AND I WILL PASS IT ALONG………..STAY HEALTHY AND BEAUTIFUL ALWAYS. (We have had spots of sunshine up here, which we love.)

  • ~Mrs. Guru~

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    Good job on quitting, you are such a strong beautiful woman!

  • EarthMommy

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    It’s easy to quit, I did it several times! Not smoking again was the hard part. It was vanity that was my motivator. I noticed small wrinkles around my mouth from puffing on the ciggies, they made me crazy! I stopped for good a week later. That was 11 years ago. Do I still want a cigarette? Sometimes. Will I smoke again? Nope, the wrinkles remind me not to.

  • Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    This is an inspiring post, thank you for sharing your story! In fact, I think I’m going to send a link to it to a freind of mine who just quite smoking and migth want some support. Thank you!

  • ...love Maegan

    September 19, 2010 | Reply

    I think what surprised me the most about quitting was the self respect I gained. I wasn’t anticipating that.

    Though I do still crave on on occasion, I could never bring myself to do it again.

  • Kinsey Michaels

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    Maegan, this same book is what got my boyfriend to quit smoking! So I’m happy to hear it worked for someone else too. It was a little tougher for him – he had to read the book once, then listen to the audiobook once. So it took a couple of times, but eventually it stuck!

  • Style Porn

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    FUCK. I’m on a slippery slope right now. I’m on my way back after a six year hiatus. SIX FUCKING YEARS. And I’m just rolling with it. Like a damned fool. I could kick myself but to be honest, I feel like I need cigarettes right now and I haven’t needed them in a long time. I guess that’s just addiction but man, if my parents find out they’ll be devastated. They thought I got that monkey off my back. I guess the monkey is always there though, its sometimes just easier to shake him.

  • Anonymous

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    I have ever smoked but I am deeeply touched by your story…!
    Congratulations for your 4 years non smoking !

    Isabelle, from France.

  • Sara Louise

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    this is fantastic – and will help so so many ppl

    well done xo

  • megan

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    Thank you for this. My husband just recently quit smoking and is having such a hard time. He has said the same things you did, he “doesn’t know who he is without cigarettes” and he loves it. I sent him your link to read and I hope it inspires him to continue at it. Thank you for this.

  • anhesty

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    i am also a quitter and proud of it! i started smoking in high school as well and didn’t quit until i graduated college in 2002. it was hard for the first 3 months since i quit cold turkey… but glad i did it. and you are super for having to be able to quit as well. woohoo to 4 yrs of being smoke-free!

  • PeaceLoveApplesauce

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve smoked on and off (mostly on) for over 12 years. Love, love, love it!! I was sitting outside smoking this past Saturday night when my 4 yr old son came out. I realized I was getting on to him because he wouldn’t ‘go play’. He was only trying to sit with me and I was getting frustrated that he wanted too because I was trying to smoke. I decided in that moment that I was done. No more. I’m through with smoking.
    Yesterday was an insanely hard day. I bet I cried at least a dozen times. Unless someone has been through it, they just don’t know what quitting is like. All I could think about was if I would be able to fight off the will power to buy a pack on my lunch break. Then I logged in my Google Reader and saw your post. I swear, it’s destiny. It’s only day 2 for me. But it’s a start. And it’s something I’m sticking with. Thanks for writing this.. today of all days.. !!!

  • Chicago Mom (Heather)

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    As an ex smoker I applaud this post. I quit with nicorette gum and consequently became addicted to the damn gum. I eventually quit the gum but I know people who still chew it 10 years after quitting smoking. The gum is EVIL too.

    You’re so right. Quitting made me respect myself more. I knew I was trashing my body by smoking. I see smokers and think that that person must secretly hate themself for doing it.

  • Pretty Little World

    September 20, 2010 | Reply

    Congratulations on still being a non-smoker!! I started smoking when I was about 15 and smoked until 22; I quit right before I started grad school. It was the hardest thing ever. Ever. But nine years later, I’m still thankfully not smoking.

    Though I also think that, like you, if I had just one, I’d be back to a pack a day in no time flat. I loved smoking. Sigh…

  • missy

    September 21, 2010 | Reply

    Add me to that motivated list. I recently read a fitness article about how I haven’t accomplished my “goals” because I’m really happy were I’m at and I don’t want to be “fit-ter” bad enough. Your blog reminds me of that article.
    Then your article made me think how stupid it is to not want to quit because I want to lose ten pounds, when I RUN SO MUCH BETTER when I don’t – which in turn helps me LOSE WEIGHT. Duh me!
    Poison indeed. Thanks for holding up that mirror.

  • Megan

    September 21, 2010 | Reply

    “I didn’t care that my hair constantly smelled like Vegas.” That comment just made my day! I remember when you blogged about quitting– it’s awesome that you have kept it up!!

  • Cigarette Sally

    September 21, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve been smoking for 42 years trying to quit just graduated to the e-cig for my sons wedding!!

  • myedit

    September 21, 2010 | Reply

    I made my husband read this and it created some good discussion.
    Thanks for the post… it also gave me a peak into his addiction.

  • Mara

    September 22, 2010 | Reply

    you are amazing Maegan! It says so much about you that you were strong enough to quit. My birthday is on June 8th so that also makes me happy you can celebrate on that day too :)

  • Gwen

    September 22, 2010 | Reply

    I will be smoke free for 2 years on October 7th and just like you I just decided that I didn’t want to be a smoker any more. I loved smoking. I could escape from life for 7 minutes (I smoked 100s) and it was a wonderful 7 minutes. I see the smokers at work and I’m still jealous at times but then I remember how much healthier I am. Of course I know I could never attempt to smoke again because I would definitely be hooked. I love that even 4 years later you still are inspiring people to quit and become non smokers too!!! XOXO

  • Anonymous

    September 23, 2010 | Reply

    Oh, let me be the 34th amazing person! Locks o’lordy my bottom’s on fire! Where do I begin Maegan?!@#?…I am just so happy for you and the life you’ve created sans T. I stumbled on your blog by accident, I think through Chictopia and I was so f’n happy to see your awesome face. Honestly love the blog and wish I could respond to almost every post, esp the baby ones (I know your pain)…BTW I used Allan Carr’s book too (smoke free for 3 years now – Tim too) Really hope we’ll get to catch up one day…until then, watch out for asexual spankers…they’re everywhere. ;) love, Helen

  • designstiles

    September 23, 2010 | Reply

    I was dumb enough to try to get hooked on smoking only to prove I could quit. Lucky for me I inhaled like it was a joint and made me nauseous beyond belief. To this day the smell of cig smoke makes me want to vomit.

    PS – you look like Drew Barrymore circa the 90s in the picture. Cute, even if you were smoking.

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    December 6, 2010 | Reply

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  • Maggie Wise

    January 22, 2012 | Reply

    Thx for making me feel less nuts cause…yeah…I loved smoking! I was never afraid of dying from cancer (cause I know I’m going to Heaven) but I was always petrified that I might have to live with emphysema and that s**t looks scary!

    Well…I had developed a nasty, lingering cough last spring and summer and so was seriously trying to get up the nerve to quit when…I got a call from my dr. office telling me that I was diabetic! Oh, hell no!! I ain’t losin’ my feet!

    Within a week, I had taken my last drink of alcohol and started working out 3 days a week. Within 4 weeks of that…I smoked my last cig. So…guess that was…over 4 months ago!! Yeah me!!!

    Still think of them on a daily basis but it’s actually been alot easier than I had imagined as my prior attempts never made it past a day or two tops!

    You’re right…It’s all in the timing. When you wanna quit…you will…and it’s not gonna happen until then.

    Thanks for the post. And love your blog. (Haters gonna hate…just ignore em!) Those of us who “know” you….think you are the shiz!!! :-)

  • Todd from Ecigz.net

    September 3, 2013 | Reply

    I have been seeking for a solution on how to quit smoking way back from 3 years. But nice to say that I have been waiting to seek for the right answer. For now, I am sure enough that my health is safe.

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