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How I successfully quit: Three ex-smokers share their stories

4 minute read
A woman snapping a cigarette in half

There are thousands of expert tips and tricks for quitting smoking, and while talking to your healthcare provider can be an important part of your quitting journey, sometimes it’s helpful to hear what worked from someone who has already successfully navigated it.

That’s why we asked three former smokers to share how they successfully quit smoking for good.

“Rising prices pushed me over the line”

Sarah (47), has been smoke free for six years. She initially quit for a couple of years in her thirties and struggled through many short-lived attempts in her twenties.

“It was a constant battle between quitting and relapsing. I was even studying addictions at the time, so in theory, I knew how it all worked. I clung to the idea that each time I tried to stop, I was a step closer to quitting for good,” she says.

The two tipping points for Sarah included a graphic TV ad and the rising price of cigarettes (at the time she quit, they were verging on ten dollars a pack). Being a heavy smoker, it was too hard to justify spending that much money on cigarettes each week. So, how did she actually quit?

“I adopted an all-or-nothing mentality. Don’t quit and hope that you can smoke socially; I can thank all my relapses to thinking I could just smoke on weekends, or that just one would be ok.”

She admits cravings were a constant companion at times, which she dealt with by acknowledging they existed and probably would for a while. “I did anything I could to stay distracted when they hit. I also avoided triggers like alcohol, coffee and tea breaks at work for ages.”

“I was bet I couldn’t do it”

Craig (65) has been smoke free for over 30 years, all thanks to a simple bet. “One night I told a friend I was going to quit, and they said, ‘Sure mate, bet you $50 you can’t.’ I decided it was a great motivator and I was ready to take it seriously,” he says.

Craig also credits his primary school-aged daughters who constantly quoted an anti-smoking campaign around him.

“I went cold turkey and never looked back. This is partly because of my nature - I decided I was going to do it, so I did, but I think it was also because the timing was right. I’d tried before and failed immediately, but I knew even then I wasn’t serious about it.”

Like Sarah, Craig advises against trying to taper off. “Don’t kid yourself that you can ever smoke socially or cut back gradually. It just doesn’t work like that,” he advises.

“I found the right motivation – my new daughter”

The birth of his daughter saw Prosper (34) ditch the ciggies for good two years ago. “My wife wouldn’t allow me to hold our new baby until I had changed my clothes after a smoke, which meant I was changing five to 10 times a day,” he says.

Prosper tried patches and gum, but found the ‘distract and delay’ tactic worked best.

“Science has proven it only takes three seconds to get rid of a cigarette craving. In the space of waiting for the three seconds to get by, I would whisper, ‘not taking another puff’. This changes your mental state and it starts to associate you with being a non-smoker. After two or three rounds of repeating the phrase, I found cravings started to become less and less.”

He also says finding a solid motivation was important. “Big picture, I really just thought about what my ‘why’ was – my purpose, my vision, my dream and that kept me motivated,” he says. Neither last nor least, he recommends letting the people around know you’ve quit so you stay accountable to others.

The benefits of quitting smoking

Here’s just a small taste of the benefits you’ll enjoy after quitting:

Quit Smoking Infographic showing various benefits that occur at various times after your last cigarette.

If your goal is to give up smoking, we want to help you achieve it; that’s why we offer Extras covers that include benefits for nicotine replacement therapies that are ordered by your GP, including gum, patches, inhalers and lozenges. The aim of these therapies is to help you quit by replacing some of the addictive nicotine you’d normally get through a cigarette to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re not with nib, but you’d like to find out more about our cover options, get a quote today or contact our award-winning member service team on 13 16 42.

For coping strategies and quitting methods, visit quitnow.gov.au or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.

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