Skip to main content

How I Finally Quit Smoking Cigarettes

I started smoking at age 16 and was a pack-a-day smoker for years. Today marks 1318 days since I finally quit.

How to quit smoking

How to quit smoking

Has My Love-Hate Relationship With Cigarettes Finally Ended?

I sure hope so. Studies have shown that it may take several times before someone can kick the habit. For one person, it may take only five quits to succeed; for someone else, it may take 10. For me, I quit counting after nine quits, but I think it is closer to 30. So, if you are trying to quit smoking and relapse, don't give up hope. Just keep trying. Hang in there and get ready for the next quit—as many times as you have to.

I really believe, at least for myself, that tobacco addiction is mental more than physical. The next time you try to quit tobacco, I would highly recommend that you go ahead and throw out all your lighters and ashtrays. I started smoking at age 16 and was a pack-a-day smoker for years. I tell non-smokers not to take it for granted that they are non-smokers. Here are some of the reasons I do not miss smoking cigarettes.

How to stop smoking, advice from a smoker

How to stop smoking, advice from a smoker

Reasons I Don't Miss Smoking

Today I am 2525 days into my quit. As I am moving forward in my nonsmoking state, I realize just how great it is not to cough all the time, and I can tell I have a better attitude and more energy. Here are the things I surely do not miss about smoking cigarettes:

  1. Coughing in the middle of the night.
  2. Coughing first thing in the morning.
  3. Making special trips to the store to buy cigarettes when I ran out of them.
  4. Worrying if I have enough cigarettes to last today or this week.
  5. Paying high prices for cigarettes—it turns out to be an expensive habit.
  6. My home smelling stinky, like an ashtray. Same for clothes, purses, and wallets. I especially noticed the smell when I was at the gym, where the air is clean, and the stinky cigarette smell would emit from my gym bag.
  7. Not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting flushed and gasping for breath (like red-faced and nostrils-flaring sort of thing). Note: At 683 days this is not an issue anymore. I still get slightly out of breath but it's wonderful not to deal with that red-faced, nostrils-flaring thing anymore.
  8. Having less energy and motivation to exercise.
  9. No more distraction—I need a cigarette right now, stop everything to smoke.
  10. My lungs feeling full of phlegm.

I have heard ex-smokers say that every now and then, a craving to smoke a cigarette would hit them out of the blue. These are people that have quit smoking for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years. Only a smoker or ex-smoker can understand what a battle it can be since willpower alone is not powerful enough to beat the NicoDemon (the NicoDemon is a nickname for tobacco and everything in it and about it that gets a person hooked).

A quit is different for each person. For some, it takes only a few tries to quit. For others, it may take 10-20 or maybe more tries to finally quit. I am in the last category. I quit counting my cold turkey quits after nine tries, but I estimate it is probably around 30 tries before it stuck. I am, as of right now, at 2525 days NicoDemon free. This quit has been the easiest for me so far.

I remember my very first quit lasted 6 months, but the whole time it was very difficult because I kept thinking about those cigarettes and had cravings for them. It was sheer willpower until I gave in. My goal is to do a cold turkey Quit and get to the point that I don’t even think about cigarettes. I don’t even want to think about how nice it would be to go outside and have a cup of coffee on the balcony and have a smoke. No, I don’t even want them on my mind. I believe what has helped me was all of the praying and journaling I did along the way during my other quits and relapses. I wrote down everything I was feeling, noting the positive changes from not smoking and also noting the negative changes after a relapse. Those positive and negative changes are noted in this article.

Benefits of Not Smoking

Research has indicated that nicotine completely leaves the bloodstream in 72 hours. The physical effects of withdrawal occur within those first 72 hours. If you are trying to quit smoking forever, don’t get discouraged—keep on trying. Start to keep a journal during your quits. There is a ton of information on the internet on how to prepare for a quit, things to do to substitute for that cigarette in your hand, and other great advice. I personally did not want to use the Patch or chew nicotine gum because I did not want the drug in my system anymore, and I also knew with me it was 99% in my head. It is psychological and mental stuff that caused me to relapse, not physical withdrawals. Write everything down in your journal and keep trying. The following information is what I wrote in my journal:

  1. Lungs /breathing feel better.
  2. No yellow nails/fingertips.
  3. No smoker’s headache and coughing.
  4. No oily film on my face – skin looks better.
  5. Have more energy and stamina during hikes on the nature trail/gym.
  6. I still get out of breath going up a long flight of stairs, but I recover so much faster, and I don’t turn red-faced over it anymore.
  7. My mind is not distracted or cluttered with thinking about cigarettes.
  8. Saving a lot of money. Look out shoe store—here I come!
  9. No more puffy bags under the eyes.
  10. No more dark circles under my eyes. The dark circles went away!!
  11. I smell better. There is no longer a lingering stink on my clothes and other belongings.
  12. I had my last cigarette on February 1, 2012. I have noticed another benefit of not smoking, and I am so happy I must share it: MY TEETH ARE WHITER. I have not done anything to my teeth except regular cleanings at the dentist. My teeth are no longer that yellow-grey color. Now I can give a big smile with confidence! I will use Crest White Strips to make them even whiter!

The Effects of Relapse

When I had my last relapse, the following thoughts and feelings were recorded during my journalling, and I will share them here. Number 9 is what really stuck in my head during this battle to become a nonsmoker.

  1. Smoker’s headache.
  2. Sore lower back and sore joints.
  3. Regular coughing returned along with coughing up the flem (I apologize for sounding so gross, but this is one of the effects of relapse for me).
  4. Watery eyes after applying mascara/makeup.
  5. Right back to spending money on cartons of cigarettes.
  6. Hair not as shiny.
  7. Oily film returned to my face, and big pimples appeared on my jawline. My eyes were puffy, and there were circles under my eyes.
  8. Breathing is affected.
  9. I realized I was craving a cigarette real bad, that I wanted to inhale the cool menthol. I take puff after puff, and it burns my throat, and the realization hits me—the peppermint breath mints are much better than the tobacco burning my throat.
  10. I feel "yucky." It's hard to explain, but I don't feel myself, like I have a "yucky" sick.
If I have to smell this stuff now, it makes my nose burn. I am glad about that, too.

If I have to smell this stuff now, it makes my nose burn. I am glad about that, too.

Causes of My Various Relapses

  1. Kept craving and thinking about cigarettes (for me, this was mental baggage). During relapse, when I had that first cigarette, it burned my throat, and it was nasty. There really is nothing great or comforting about having a cigarette. It doesn’t make me feel better. The menthol breath mints were much better.
  2. Boredom—need something to do with my hands. This is what I believe is the "psychological addiction". What do non-smokers do when they get bored? NOTE: I wanted to change my way of thinking. I wanted to do what non-smokers do when they get bored: talk to a friend, go bike riding, read a book, clean the house, go to the gym, walk their dog, paint a room. The list of positive, fun things to do instead of inhaling nasty chemicals is endless. That is how I wanted to think. I didn't want those cigarettes on my mind at all.
  3. Job stress.
  4. Disappointments in life, such as expending a lot of time and effort into plans and goals and dreams only to have them dissipate into thin air. I would think smoking would make me feel better, but it really does not (see negative effects above).
Scroll to Continue

Read More From Patientslounge

Number 4 is a real big one. Good luck to everyone out there trying to beat this tobacco habit. I still have disappointments, job stress and sometimes boredom. But I decided my way of dealing with those things is to spend energy focusing on either improving or accepting them.

I have a respect for everyone attempting their first quit or their 30th quit, and I won’t take mine for granted. I know non-smokers look at these symptoms and think, “why do you put yourself through this horror again and again? Why not just stop smoking and be done with it?” Well, that is a very good question. I believe smoking cigarettes is one of the more challenging addictions to overcome, so you have to keep trying over and over until it works for you. So don't give up if you are trying to stop smoking. If you are thinking about it, that is a start. I know it will be painful to throw out the ashtrays and lighters. Keep trying. Even if you fall off the wagon, keep trying and don't give up.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Michelle Dee


Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on September 11, 2015:

My Latest stats:

1318 days quit

Money saved: $5,957

Life saved: 6 months, 3 weeks

Unsmoked: 26,360

Wow that is the equivalent of 132 cartons not smoked! Taken from

On October 1, 2015 I will be celebrating 44 months of being a non-smoker and still loving it!

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on June 20, 2015:

CrisSp - thank you for your wonderful comments. It sure is great to be a non-smoker, and Cheers to you as well!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on June 19, 2015:

Way to go! That's some sort of high achievement indeed! I quit smoking some 20 years ago (cold turkey) and I very much agree with you that, it is more like mental addiction, if anything else.

Great, inspiring article! Sharing...because quitting is do-able! :)

Cheers to good life!

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on February 01, 2015:

I MADE IT TO THREE YEARS!! Today, February 1, is my 3 year anniversary of No Smoking! I am happy to say that I still think it is wonderful to be a non-smoker!

1095 days, 15 hours, 20 minutes and 3 seconds smoke free.

21913 cigarettes not smoked.

$4,953.92 and 5 months, 17 days, 9 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 07, 2014:

litlcrig - that is fantastic! I'm so very glad for you. It is a big deal if you are not craving, and a good sign your Quit will stay. My teeth actually got whiter the longer I quit, the dingy yellow color faded away. I even used some teeth whitener on them a few months ago. I agree with you that it is such a nice experience to be a Non-Smoker. Wonderful! Yeah for us! I plan to treat myself this Christmas with a new pair of hiking boots.

litlcrig on November 06, 2014:

Thank you, I am not sure if it is so much of a craving as it is the habit. I still find myself heading to the kitchen to fetch a cigarette and realize, wait a minute, I don't smoke anymore. It is quite funny in a way. All I can say is that it is a fantastic experience to have successfully quit smoking. I had some work done on my teeth, now all I have left to do is have a professional whitening treatment and I will be sporting a beautiful white smile. Thank you for your help and encouragement!

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 03, 2014:

litlcrig - Excellent! CONGRATULATIONS! Hooray to You!! This is wonderful news that you are coming up to your 1 year anniversary. Time to go treat yourself to some new shoes or maybe a nice vacation to celebrate. I am still hiking the mountains and believe my stamina is getting stronger thanks more smoking! Isn't it great to be a non-smoker? Do you feel much better? Do you have any cravings or did they go away?

litlcrig on November 03, 2014:

Way to go girl... I finally made it too! I think your article helped. So Thank you from the bottom of my Heart.

Your Quit Date is:Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 5:00:00 PM

Time Smoke-Free:357 days, 12 hours, 16 minutes and 4 seconds

Cigarettes NOT smoked:5363

Lifetime Saved:1 month, 10 days, 23 hours

Money Saved:$1,688.86

Next Monday is my 1 year anniversary...

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 01, 2014:

Today, 11/1/14, I celebrate my 33 Month Anniversary of No Smoking!

1003 days, 17 hours, 20 minutes and 57 seconds smoke free.

20074 cigarettes not smoked.

$4,538.08 and 5 months, 3 days, 8 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 21, 2014:

900 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes and 31 seconds smoke free.

18019 cigarettes not smoked.

$4,072.52 and 4 months, 17 days, 15 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on January 08, 2014:

Hello GeeCeeCG - Congratulations on your new Quit! I believe it took a few weeks for my eyes to look better and I don't blame you one bit for wanting to look better. That is another good reason to want to quit. I believe getting enough sleep and a healthy diet can help as well with the puffy eyes. Hang in there and I'm so glad you are trying to go smoke free. Thank you for reading and commenting.

GeeCeeGC on January 08, 2014:

Hi Efficient Admin - Congratulations on your tremendous success and thank you for sharing your story! Despite being aware of all of the possible horrible health risks of smoking, I am currently (almost) 4 days smoke-free due to vanity. I have become acutely aware - ok, obsessed is more like it - of disgusting, dreadful bags under my eyes. It's all I see and all I think about and it drive me to tears. I am hoping and wondering if by stopping my eye bags will go away - ?? I see that you mentioned in a post above that yours did and I am dying to know how long it took!! Could you tell me?? I'm not a complete narcissist - there has also been an extremely effective commercial running lately which show the suffering of a woman who is bed-ridden with emphysema. It is very powerful and beyond frightening. These two things have coincided for me. But, yeah, I'm very curious about the eyes :( Hope to hear back from you and thank you!

ex smoker on December 31, 2013:

Your welcome. I like your mention of "mental baggage". Every time I subconciously pat my pocket for a pack I think about this "mental baggage". I try not to dwell on it long. Recognize and move on.

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on December 30, 2013:

ex smoker - thanks for reading and commenting. I can remember lighting up cigarettes and not even remembering that I already had one lit. It is so nice to be a non smoker!

ex smoker on December 30, 2013:

Interesting thing I read in a quit smoking book..........

Smokers have four triggers to light up. Ironically they are opposites of each other.

Boredom and excitement

Stress and relaxation

Think about it. You light up when your stressed. You light up to "relax" (after dinner)

You light up when you get excited (social smoker) You light up when your bored (driving)

All triggers are a form of the above 4 emotions that we have retrained ourselves as "i need a cigarette". They are also emotions that everybody experiences. Non smokers included. Which is why smoking is so addictive. We have psyched ourselves out and don't know it. We have re associated normal human emotions to "I want a cigarette"

It is neat to think about the psych behind big tobacco.

Now think about this. When you were bored and you lit up that smoke.. Were you not bored anymore......... Were you relaxed..... Did it fix your stress..... Odds are you didn't even remember smoking it.

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on December 15, 2013:

683 days, 30 minutes and 51 seconds smoke free.

13660 cigarettes not smoked.

$3,087.16 and 3 months, 14 days, 8 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on September 01, 2013:

577 days, 16 hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds smoke free.

11554 cigarettes not smoked.

$2,612.56 and 2 months, 28 days, 6 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistic were taken from my account at

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 03, 2013:

Kate Mc Bride - that's wonderful news and I am very glad you found his hub motivating. For me personally I believe the addiction to tobacco was psychological, not physical. Once the cravings stop it's easier to get on with life. I wish you all the luck and blessings in your journey to become smoke free. The fact that you are thinking of it is a very good sign and beginning. Thanks for your comment and vote.

Kate McBride from Donegal Ireland on July 03, 2013:

This is a great hub. It has actually stopped me from going out to buy cigs after 9:00p.m. this evening. I have quit about five times but instead of waiting to try again another time I will just go for it from tomorrow. Keep up the good work yourself and thanks for the encouragement and facts about smoking. Voted up and useful

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 01, 2013:

515 days, 22 hours, 57 minutes and 47 seconds smoke free.

10319 cigarettes not smoked.

$2,332.32 and 2 months, 18 days, 19 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistics were taken from my account at

Merry Wise from Idaho on May 05, 2013:

Another great hub! I love your style Efficient! Have you bought any cute shoes yet? :D

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on April 27, 2013:

Today I am 450 days, 18 hours, 27 minutes and 47 seconds smoke free.

9015 cigarettes not smoked.

$2,038.52 and 2 months, 8 days, 20 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistics were taken from my account at

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on February 23, 2013:

Today I am 387 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes and 23 seconds smoke free.

7758 cigarettes not smoked.

$1,753.76 and 1 month, 29 days, 6 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistics were taken from my account at

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on February 15, 2013:

Tams R - yes it sure does make sense completely, and I have never thought of it that way before until you mentioned it!

Now that I think about it, I do recall getting up and "doing" whereas before I would get up and "smoke a cigarette". Thank you for reading and offering that wonderful insight! And Congratulations on your Quit too!

Tams R from Missouri on February 14, 2013:

Great article! I think time spent smoking is one thing people don't consider. While I was quit, I remember just getting up and going to do whatever I wanted.

If I could just get back the time I've spent saying, "Hold on, let me smoke a cigarette first." I'd get back the 10 years I will lose in the end if I don't quit. Hope that makes sense. It did in my head. LOL!

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on December 17, 2012:

Today I am 319 days, 22 hours, 25 minutes and 43 seconds smoke free.

6399 cigarettes not smoked.

$1,446.40 and 1 month, 18 days, 21 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistics were taken from my account at

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 21, 2012:

Hello 2besure - Thank you, and I remember those days when it was still legal to smoke at your desk. Back then even though I was a smoker I was glad when they outlawed it - it just made me smoke less and not chain smoke at my desk! Thanks for reading and commenting and your vote.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on November 21, 2012:

Efficient Admin, first I want to congratulate you for quitting smoking! It is the hardest thing to do. I started when I wt 14 and stopped when I was 26! You are right, the secondary emotional symptoms are almost as difficult. I stopped when it was still legal to smoke at work...brutal! Great hub, that any smoker will relate to. Voted up!

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 21, 2012:

Today I am 293 days, 13 hours, 58 minutes and 43 seconds smoke free.

5872 cigarettes not smoked.

$1,328.88 and 1 month, 14 days, 20 hours of your life saved.

Your quit date: 2/1/2012 7:30:00 PM

The above statistics were taken from my account at

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 30, 2012:

Hello belleboy - thank you very much for reading and your comments and votes. On August 1, 2012 it will be 6 months I've been quit. I hope your family members can quit as well. It can be a difficult habit to stop, but they say to keep trying no matter how many times it takes to quit. I am using the website at the very beginning of this hub (link to to gauge how many days it's been. Thank you very much for the follow and for stopping by.

belleboy on July 30, 2012:

Congrats on your over "170 Days Quit"! I enjoy reading the things you don't miss about smoking (especially #5-does it feel great to be saving all that money?), benefits from not smoking, effects of relapse, and in hindsight. The information is interesting, useful, and easy-to-follow.

Though I'm a nonsmoker, I have a few extended family members who smoke and are trying to quit. Though I love them and am patient with them, this information will help me understand their struggles a bit better.

Best of luck to you on your continued journey to better health and a happier life! I voted up on your hub and will start following you now.

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 28, 2012:

Hello litlcrig and Congratulations on your new quit! Congratulations that you are trying again. Yes I am still a nonsmoker!

Yes I did do the mountain hike and the first .75 mile it was straight up stairs. I had to stop every 90 seconds because I ran out of breath. Some of those mountains are tough! But I eventually made it to the top. I'm glad you liked this article and I hope it helps you in some way. Thanks for reading and commenting.

litlcrig from Pekin, IL on July 28, 2012:

I am on day 3 of my umteenth quit and I really liked your article. Did you make it through the mountain hike? I went to Denver a couple years ago and nearly died! Ugh. I hope you are still a non smoker.

Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on May 11, 2012:

Thank you billrrr for your comment and support. I am still Quit and grateful I have not craved cigarettes lately. I love to walk on the local nature/greenways in my area and noticed when going up a hill, I still may lose my breath a bit, but boy I sure do recover my breath a lot faster! I feel I have more energy. The real test will be this summer -- I have a mountain hike planned. It's a real mountain with elevation, in South Carolina. I can't wait! Congratulations on your 30 year Quit! You sound like you are active and doing well!

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on May 11, 2012:

Great article Efficient. God Bless You and don't worry, you are going to make it this time. I vowed to quit before I was 40. At 42 or 43, I still had not quit. Seemingly overnight my voice got hoarse and my throat became sore.

"Do you smoke?", the Doctor asked after I finally worked up the courage to make an appointment.

"No I do not!," I lied. "Because if I say I smoke, you are going to say that I am sick because of cigarettes."

"You are right," the Doctor said. "I am going to tell you that I can tell you smoke and I will tell you something else. You have a white spot on your throat the size of a quarter. It is pre cancer. If you quit, it might go away. If you do not quit, I will guarantee you that this will become throat cancer. You make the choice. Quit smoking and come back and see me in a month."

With such strong motivation, I did quit and the pre cancer did go away. The next Doctor visit confirmed it.

Now almost thirty years later, I still DO NOT SMOKE and never want one. I walk one to two miles a day and still can run pretty well for an almost 70 year old guy.

I did have vocal chord cancer in 2004, but that was from complications of GERD and I beat it.

Keep on reading your list because it's a great list and so true. Best of luck.

Related Articles