Smoking is a difficult habit to give up. Anyone who has tried will know it's not easy.
But what's clear is that it is possible. We put it out to our readers and here's what helped them quit.
‘I dislike smokers now’
I stopped 27 years ago within one hour. It was easy to quit – I put a cigarette on the lounge table at 8am. I pushed it around the table and looked at it. I asked my family, "How can a cigarette tell me what to do. It’s a dead object."
At 9am, I took my cigarettes and dumped them in the bin. It is now 27 years later. I hate cigarettes; I don't crave them. I play golf and I’m fit and healthy.
It is all in the mind. One does not need cigarettes.
– Johan Viljoen
‘I went cold turkey’
This year marks 10 years since I had my last smoke. I went cold turkey – I just took the plunge and it has paid off. I feel good now. I no longer have to worry about where I can smoke or not. Even though my weight needs to be sorted out, my health has improved.
All I can say to everyone out there who has quit and is trying to quit, "Hang in there it takes guts, it’s not easy but does get better. Just keep on trying."
It took me 30 years to stop after almost smoking 60 a day. And look at all the money I save now!
– Keith Steenkamp
'My grandchildren tried to emulate me'
I was a chain-smoker for 45 years but 10 years ago I decided enough was enough. My grandchildren were trying to emulate me and I knew that [smoking] wasn't a good legacy to leave behind.
I had acupressure done on my ears – it hurt like hell – and after that I was told to drink only bottled water for a week. I could not associate with smokers. I couldn't drink coffee or go to the pub for a month. I had to sit with with a glass of iced water and some sour sweets. As soon as the cravings started, I would pop a sour sweet into my mouth and start sipping the water. I followed these instructions to a T.
I'm not sorry today. I used to smoke between 40 and 45 cigarettes a day, but now I am smoke free.
– Fathima Mogalia
‘It’s a difficult habit to break’
I'm 62 years of age and a retired teacher for the last 15 months. I started smoking when I was in grade 11 and finally stopped smoking on 21 March 1991. I had stopped smoking for more than a year on two occasions during this time.
It was very difficult to quit this habit until I attended a five-day course on how to stop smoking forever. The following motivational sentence helped all of us who attended this course to quit smoking (32 in total): "I prefer not to smoke now." The word "now" is so powerful that it can only be used in the present tense – not for an hour or day or a year.
Whenever that craving for a puff cropped up, especially after drinking a cup of coffee or eating food, I said to myself, "I prefer not to smoke now." Viva pink healthy lungs!
– Brian Arends
'I made up my mind'
The one thing that's changed is a made up mind. The moment I decided to stop smoking it was because of a vision – I wanted to be clean and healthy, to no longer be bound by chemicals which only caused damage to my body.
I still feel the urge to smoke, but when I’m reminded that I’m a product of my thoughts and actions, I’m pushed to remind myself that I’m above this affliction – I decide how far it goes and whether or not it will exist.
When we realise that we create and destroy the things which "make up" our personal afflictions, its then that we know our true power; we realise that smoking never had a hand over us; it was our minds which gave it its silver platter, dominion status over us. It was nothing more than a thought.
I would like everyone who is struggling with the affliction to step back and regain their power over what happens in their lives. Take hold of your choices and make decisions which are seemingly hard, and push through. Eventually you’ll see that you’re the architects of your own lives and destiny.
– Ryan Addison
'I couldn't breathe'
I started smoking at the age of 16 and continued until I was 43 years old. I smoked for a total of 27 years. Considering that I was born an asthmatic and outgrew the condition as I grew older, my chest infections with smoking were always more worse than they should be. While my smoking never really bothered me, during my latter stage of smoking I ended up in hospital with smoke-related asthmatic issues more times than I care to remember. Battling to breathe is never pleasant but yet, once treated and healed, I continued to smoke.
I must admit that during both my pregnancies I never touched a cigarette – why I just never stopped then don't know.
The final straw came when I developed a disastrous chest infection. I was on my way from work one evening when I suddenly couldn't breathe and my inhaler simply wouldn't help. I raced to my doctor, stood at the receptionist's desk wheezing and gagging trying to tell her that I couldn't breathe. She rushed me to the room where a nebuliser was ready and waiting for me to alleviate my tight chest.
Suffice to say, thereafter I ended up in hospital anyway where I stayed for more than a week as my chest simply wouldn't clear up. I had extensive physiotherapy as well as intravenous medications, which took a long time to become effective.
That day, when I rushed into my doctor waiting room, I decided that that was the last day I would touch a cigarette, and my daughter, who still smokes, cannot believe that I stopped smoking immediately without having done so gradually.
I haven't smoked since 6 June 2004. I also haven't been hospitalised since then and while I always have my inhaler at hand, I don't get chest infections the way I used to, except with the common cold.
I breathe easily, I don't tire quickly and the best part is that I can finally taste and smell again!
– Malikah Bhayat
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