Updated 08 June 2015

How South Africans quit smoking

We asked ex-smokers to share their secrets to successfully quitting smoking. Find out how they managed to kick the habit.


If you're a smoker, you know that ditching the habit can easily become a weekly resolution – you quit on a Monday morning, just to light one up the very next day. A recent study revealed that many smokers fail to quit even after being diagnosed with cancer. The study confirmed just how difficult people find it to stop, even in the face of evidence that it is killing them. Fortunately, we also know that it can be done; you just need to find the right way.

Health24 readers, some of whom smoked for over 20 years, have shaken the habit without looking back.

We asked those who did it to share their success stories and offer tips on how get it right and stay clean. Here's what they had to say:

Going cold turkey

Health24 reader Samuel Smith smoked cigarettes, cigars, and pipes for 20 years. He says that he did not find it difficult to quit. "I went cold turkey. I used candy for a few days to help with potential cravings, but it really wasn't necessary."

Similarly Deb Smith, who was a smoker for 28 years and tried to quit many times, finally became a non-smoker by going cold turkey. She's been clean for 120 days and believes that the secret lies in willpower and discipline.

Smoking alternatives

Smoking alternatives such as vaping, Nicorette gum or patches, and Champix tablets have also proven to help many smokers, with the latter in particular proving very popular, despite the risk of side-effects.

Sharon Lemon was one who turned to Champix, saying, "A year now. Used Champix! Had no side affects and it was easy to stop."

Lucille Bester seems to have found another substitute for smoking, and her method is actually healthy too!

"I did it with the help of prunes," she says. "The pip [of the prune] tastes like nicotine so every time I craved a cigarette I had a prune and sucked on the pip. It sounds crazy but it worked like a charm."

Health24's smoking expert Olivia Rose-Innes says that many people find it helpful to tackle the "oral fixation" aspect of smoking by using a replacement. This could be why sucking a prune pip worked for Lucille.

"In addition to prune pips, smokers wanting to quit could consider options like sugar-free gum, toothpicks, sips of water and small healthy snacks as alternatives or distractions when they are craving a cigarette," she says.

Of course there's also Lonwabo's suggestion that "Niknaks and bananas help". Sounds good to us!

Health reasons

Although the aforementioned study shows that smokers have failed to quit even after being diagnosed with cancer, health scares have served as a big motivator for many people who have smoked previously.

Susan Steynberg was inspired to quit smoking after she had a heart attack. "I quit smoking immediately. It was not easy and sometimes I still feel like smoking."

Despite the smell of cigarettes being a complete put off, she still struggles but stays away from tobacco to take better care of her health.

Getting your mind right

Many readers agree that regardless of what you try, if your mind hasn't made the decision to quit you'll never stop. Portia Davids, Andre Malherbe and Patricia Macgregor – more Health24 readers that have successfully quit smoking, agree that quitting is mental. "You will only stop if your mind wants to."

The expert's top tip

Olivia Rose-Innes says that research has shown that most successful ex-smokers used several methods to quit, so make full use of the tools available to you – from prescription drugs like Champix to turning your home into a smoke-free zone.

"If one method doesn't seem to be helping, try another. The key is to keep trying – most people fail a few times before they stop for good; it's really just part of the process of re-learning habitual behaviour."  

For more visit the Facebook post where readers share how they quit smoking. You can also ask our Stop Smoking Expert a question and get personalised advice. Image:

Read more:

Take this test: Are you ready to quit smoking?

5 aids to help you quit smoking

Online tool helps low-income people quit smoking

Image: Quitting smoking from Shutterstock


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