Kicking the habit

Kicking the habit

Kicking the habit
Whenever Abhishek Prasad went out with his friends, he would end up smoking more than 2 packets of cigarettes a day. And on the days he kept to himself, he’d finish 2 packs. But one day, the fitness enthusiast realised what the nicotine was doing to his body — “I’m someone who loves to work out and stay fit but smoking had depleted my stamina and I was always left feeling tired,” he says. This is when he decided to quit smoking.

He isn’t the only one to attempt this so-called feat — for every person who takes up smoking tobacco, another one finds a way to give it up. Though they use different techniques to kick the habit and have various incentives pushing them, many people are trying their best to put a stop to the addiction.

At first Abhishek tried phasing it out but, “The number of cigarettes I smoked only went up.” This is when he decided to go cold turkey and give it up at one swoop.

“It was very difficult but I made up mind to stop because it was taking a toll on my health. Since gradual cutting down didn’t work I decided to give it up at one go. The first week or two were the hardest as I was in withdrawal; I’d get anxious and annoyed, but it was worth it,” he says. Now, he can be around smokers without feeling the urge to smoke himself. “It all depends on how strong your will power is!”

But not everyone can make this resolve to stop smoking tobacco products, which is why they try other methods.

Smitha Ravi, a 54-year-old homemaker who has been smoking since she was in her 20s, says that though she has wanted to quit for a long time, she can never will herself to do it.

“I managed to quit for a few months when I was hospitalised some years back but I couldn’t stay away. But recently, it’s been playing havoc on my health so I decided to gradually reduce.” Although she still smokes, she has switched to another brand that has low nicotine content. “I have also stopped buying them in boxes so I have to go out to get cigarettes every time a pack gets over, which I’m lazy to do many times. And with the budget increase on tobacco products, I’ll be spending more on them and this is a very good incentive to stop,” she adds.

Though people know the direct and indirect consequences of smoking, they continue to do so for various reasons and keep procrastinating the decision to quit. Parul Sharma, a marketing manager, estimates that she spends anywhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 on cigarettes every year. This is what pushes her to give it up.

But she says that it’s easier said than done because, “All smokers know that it is affecting their health and plundering their wallet, but tend to look at immediate satisfaction rather than the long-term damages. We reason that it won’t kill us instantly and keep procrastinating until it’s an addiction.” This is why self-help books, articles, arguments and pleadings don’t work on her.

But she found motivation in Allen Carr’s book, ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ because, “He doesn’t tell you it’s about will power or how it’s affecting your health. He doesn’t ask you to do anything, not even finish reading his book. He just says that there is an easy secret to stop smoking and one should give it a try.” She hasn’t reached the part where he reveals his ‘secret recipe’ but she hopes to complete the book.  

There are other alternatives as well — electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes), nicotine patches, nicotine gums and more but they aren’t as effective as making up one’s mind and being motivated.

“I have tried the e-cigarette but it doesn’t taste anything like a real cigarette so it doesn’t work well. Also there is no scientific proof that it helps in quitting,” says Parul. Smitha adds, “I bought nicotine gum once but it didn’t help and it tasted horrible.” On all accounts, the will to stop now and forever is the only way out.

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