cigarette buttsI started smoking at the age of 12.  This was back in 1967, when it was considered grown up and sophisticated.  We were vacationing in Travemünde, on the Baltic Sea at the time.  I looked and acted older than my age and it didn’t take long for me to befriend a group of 16-18 year olds.  There were nightly parties on the beach and everybody smoked, (tobacco, that is).   In those days it was commonplace.  My father was a heavy smoker and although my mother did not indulge, she tolerated it.

Naturally wanting to be part of the crowd, I accepted when someone offered me a cigarette.  It made me a bit light-headed at first,  but the taste wasn’t bad,  so I had another and another after that.  Thus, an addiction was born.

By the time I was 14, it was 3 to 4 packs a week.  I got caught smoking on the school grounds, (not allowed), so my mother was contacted.  She tried a little reverse psychology, by putting an ashtray in my room.  “We know you smoke and prefer that you do it at home”, she said.

Any guesses what happened after that?  My consumption increased to a carton a week, within a couple more years.   It stayed that way for decades.

debbie smoking

Typical! Always with a cigarette between my fingers, ca. 1981

In 2003, at the age of 48, I started feeling some side effects, such as difficulty breathing and minor chest pains.  The former turned out to be asthma and not COPD, thank goodness!  Heart tests were all normal, but this was enough to convince me to quit.  One of the popular drugs of the day, called Zyban, (also known as the anti-depressant, Wellbutrin), took the edge off.  It was still very difficult for me to break both the physical addiction and the habit. After all, I had been a dedicated smoker for 36 years!   

I discovered some ways to cope, which were originally published on Nov. 17, 2009.  It’s New Year’s Resolution time, so hopefully, they will benefit someone again.  If I could do it, anyone can!


Everybody knows that smoking is unhealthy, but kicking the habit can be brutal!  Speaking as a hardcore former smoker, I know exactly how difficult it is to quit and would like to share some of the things that helped me.  I pretty much had a cigarette between my fingers all the time and this is the first thing that drove me crazy – what to do with my hands!  Also missed that inhaling action and had trouble drawing a deep breath.

Tip #1:  Take a plastic drinking straw, cut it down to the length of your cigarettes, (regular, king-size, etc.), and hold it like one. Suck some air through it when you feel the need to breathe deeply. (Don’t laugh; this really works!)   When you are extremely stressed, go ahead and CHEW on it. (Yes!)  You could alternatively get an inhaler made by the Nicorette Gum people, but that actually has nicotine in it, so the straw is better – and cheaper!

Tip #2:  Chewing gum helps relieve the cravings, but stick to sugarless, so you don’t rot your teeth. Nicorette Gum is also available, but there’s the expense again, (and the nicotine).

Tip #3:  Drink a large glass of water when you get a craving.  

Tip #4:  Stock up on low calorie, crunchy snacks and increase your exercise.  Many people substitute food for cigarettes and gain weight.  I did too, but, it’s still not as bad as smoking!

Tip #5:  Think about how happy you will be when you break FREE of this nefarious habit!  For those of you in colder climates, you won’t have to go outside for a smoke anymore and freeze your ass off!

Hope this helps. 

© D.D.B. 2009, 2013

Have you quit smoking?  Was it difficult?

Any tips you’d like to share?

Holly Jahangiri  offers an interesting one, along with some other fascinating info:  One Weird Tip to Stop Smoking Now

Looking forward to your comments!

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Debbie D.

Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Currently working on various memoirs, travelogues and creative writing pieces. Looking for the next adventure!

Debbie D.

Debbie D.

Debbie D.

Latest posts by Debbie D. (see all)


Filed under Health and Wellness, Memoir


  1. Congrats on quitting, especially after so many years. My dad also smoked quite a bit and stopped for a brief moment after being told he had the beginning symptoms of Emphysema. He recently started smoking again. He did gain quite a bit of weight when he had stopped, although he does not exercise to compensate.

    You offer some great tips! I like #1, using the straw.
    Arelis Cintron recently posted…Grateful to Learn!My Profile

  2. Wow!!!!! Kudos and congrats to you. I’ve just got to tell you what a great article this is to someone who might be mentally ready to quit smoking. Great tips. Great motivational story. Great thoughts about habit breaking forms. Loved the discussion on the straw because of behavioral habits.

    So glad we are connecting through the I’m Every Woman weekly. I’ve meant a great group there and love that Cori has referred to her goal as creating a sisterhood. I’m in! = )

    Irish (Lisa)

  3. Hey Debbie,

    I hope this post will help anyone who wants to do the same as this years starts taking off.

    For me, I’ve never smoked. My Dad smoked in his early 20’s but he kicked the habit shortly after that from what I was told. He never smoked when we came along.

    I’ve had friends that smoked but I think it’s just nasty, smelling and tasting and yes I did try. I also thought coffee was nasty so I never started that habit either.

    Happy to hear though that you’ve never gone back. Yay!!! Here’s to many more healthy years ahead.

    Adrienne recently posted…The Good, The Bad And The New YearMy Profile

    • Hi Adrienne; Not starting is the best thing you can do, in regards to smoking. Good for you! :) Believe it or not, since quitting I have developed a total aversion to the smell and have no desire to smoke. That took about six years, though. A difficult addiction to break!
      Debbie recently posted…REFLECTIONS OF 2013My Profile

  4. Hi there Debbie, congratulations on beating the habit, my partner had been a smoker for ages, but suddenly was able to kick the habit through telling himself he hadn’t given up for good, just one more day, then the next until suddenly he’s been smoker free for years. It’s been a relief, both financially and healthwise, a smoke free future is so much better. I hope 2014 is a great year for you, and continues to be a smokeless zone. :-) xxPenxx
    penpusherpen recently posted…Time and Again…My Profile

  5. Congrats on quitting smoking, especially after all those years. I bet it was tough. Luckily, I never started.
    Joyce recently posted…The Blogging Lounge: Who Am I?My Profile

  6. Congratulations on breaking your addiction, Debbie! I can only imagine how difficult it was. For me, food, which I love, is more of an issue. I tend to eat when I’m happy, sad, mad, bored … so basically all the time. :) It’s never easy changing habits but this year I am determined to still love food but moderately … with me in control!
    Tanya recently posted…Pasta e Fagioli SoupMy Profile

  7. Many congratulations on quitting, Debbie – I know how hard it is. I didn’t take up smoking until I was over 20 and only smoked for a couple of years, but I was very addicted – it was 20 a day or nothing for me – and it took me several attempts before I eventually managed to give up. My father smoked from a very young age, like you, and eventually gave up at the age of 60 when he developed emphysema, but he found it very hard and always craved a cigarette, until his dying day!
    Susan Neal recently posted…How Writing Will Help You Keep That New Year ResolutionMy Profile

    • Hi Sue; It is an insidious addiction and really sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? It became a part of my personality, even. It took 6 years for me to lose the cravings, especially for that after-dinner cigarette. The result? I just kept eating. There’s another addiction I’m trying to tame, LOL. Sounds like your father had a rough time quitting. My father was a chain smoker and also quit at 60, because he was in a bad accident and spent months in hospital. He really didn’t seem to miss it though and developed an aversion to the smell, which I have too. It disgusts me that I used to reek so badly! Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)
      Debbie recently posted…HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!My Profile

  8. Congrats on quitting! So few manage to do that. I’ve heard that nicotine is harder to quit than many narcotics. I’ve also heard that the more times you try to quit the more likelier you will succeed. I guess that’s common sense, but smokers need to know that they will probably fail several times before succeeding.

    My dad started smoking at 10 along with his buddies. When they all hit 45 they started dropping like flies. He saw three of them die of lung cancer in one summer. That was enough to scare him straight. He stopped cold turkey and never picked up a cigarette again. He lived into his 80s and we enjoyed having him with us every minute of it. I’m so thankful he quit when he did.

    I was never tempted to smoke because I love food more! That’s another story!
    Maggie recently posted…How to Take Back Control of Your Email InboxMy Profile

    • Hi Maggie; It’s an incredibly difficult addiction to break and I thank you for your praise. My father was a chain smoker and quit when he was 60. He contracted lung cancer anyway – a fact which isn’t lost on me, let me tell you! :( At least he had those bonus years and lived to be 84. Ah – food! Yes, that is another one of my addictions and I have once again embarked on my yearly quest to lose weight. BTW, food becomes much more interesting after you quit smoking, LOL. Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.
      Debbie recently posted…HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!My Profile

  9. Hi Debbie,

    Thank goodness I don’t smoke! :)

    For that matter, no one’s ever smoked in our family and for generations, so perhaps it has a good and positive affect on everyone where it’s against our religion. But I do have friend’s who are chain smokers and are facing health issues, just as some of the ones you mentioned. I’d surely be forwarding them these tips, some of which sound very new and if you have tried them and they work, that’s wonderful indeed.

    Thanks for sharing it with us. Have a nice weekend :)
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Keep Moving Forward – My 3rd Blog AnniversaryMy Profile

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  12. Oh! Boy, do I have a good tip. Thanks for reminding me – I’m going to see if I still have the blog post, since re-running that is guaranteed to (a) help all the folks resolving to quit in the new year; (b) increase my blog’s traffic exponentially; (c) get me TONS of new comments from folks hawking their own “weird tricks” to stop smoking now; (d) and… well, if anyone here is interested, it’s deadly nightshade. Well, no, not really. Jalapeno peppers are so much safer!! (You’ll have to come read my post, if I can find it again. I quit in 2006, and have not had ONE craving since about the third week. Not ONE.)
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…We All See the World Through Our Own Set of LensesMy Profile

  13. Hey Debbie,

    This is gonna come in handy! :) I’m really happy you quit this habit after all and I can’t believe you smoked for 36 years (36 x 365 days). I only heard about the use of plastic drinking straw, nicotine patches and e-cigar as an alternative.

    Oftentimes I heard doctors say alcohol is far better than smoking. Not only to self, but inhaling the smoke is too bad for others, nah? It breaks my heart when non-smokers have to be victims. Especially, children.

    I know some elders who quit smoking and it’s really hard. Isn’t it? Few are still troubled when sleeping. Fortunately, I never did but my father. Used to roll a piece of paper and imitate him when I was a kid 😀 Due to our culture, smoking for women is kinda in backseat and I’m glad about the friction too.

    Let’s hope this will help more and more smokers Debbie :) That;s very nice of you to come up with this one.

    You have a lovely and healthy week dear :)

    Mayura recently posted…Does the Length of a Blog Post Matter?My Profile

    • HI Mayura; Yes, I smoked for a very long time, so if I can quit, anyone can! :) Agreed that second-hand smoke is harmful for everyone, especially children, but also pets. I feel bad that my hubby (who was only ever a “social smoker”), was subjected to that all those years. It was part of our culture for so long and nobody gave it a second thought, at the time. Thankfully, attitudes have changed and smokers are in the minority, with more and more people quitting every day. Thanks for visiting and I’m glad you don’t smoke. Cheers!
      Debbie recently posted…2013 IN REVIEWMy Profile

  14. It is hard to quit. I’d been smoking for 14 years when I quit. That was quite a while ago. Glad I did it. But no matter how long you’ve smoked, you can still benefit from quitting. Good post, Debbie–thanks for sharing :-)

  15. Good Luck with quitting, I’ve been successful, you can too.
    Michael Estey aka Dog Brindle recently posted…The Prince of Pot – Marc EmeryMy Profile

  16. Mike

    Wow, Cledus is not his same self from 1977. How ironic as JUST this morning I was talking about Smokey and The Bandit! Good video. The first step I would think is the overwhelming will and desire to quit. They second to eliminate all of a person’s “triggers”. All of your suggestions sound wonderful and great advice, no doubt! Doctors have often said for years that quitting nicotine can be worse than coming off of heroin. So proud of you, Debbie! Double smiles :)
    Mike recently posted…My Top 10 Favorite Movie Theme Songs Part IIMy Profile

    • Hi Mike; Sadly,(and ironically), he died in 2008 from Emphysema. I didn’t know that when I posted the video. :( Yes, one must have the desire to quit, otherwise it won’t work. Eliminating the triggers is much more difficult. Could never do without those cups of coffee! (That’s where the straw came in especially handy!) It really is a difficult addiction to break and I’m proud of me, too. :) Thanks for visiting.
      Debbie recently posted…2013 IN REVIEWMy Profile

  17. Bren

    I’m glad you were able to kick the habit Debbie. I too tried to quit many times and then finally in 2007, did for good. I have to say, chewing gum made me crave cigs. I did the nicorette gum and got addicted to eat. Eventually weaned myself off and haven’t had one in 7 years now. It’s a very hard habit to break BUT I am much healthier than I was then.

    Bren recently posted…You Think You Would Know More Going On 50My Profile

    • Hi Bren; Congrats on kicking the habit yourself! :) I definitely got more addicted to food when I quit. Still trying to shake that one, LOL. Glad you’re feeling the health benefits of not smoking. My asthma actually got worse, but I’m sure my lungs are healthier. Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year!
      Debbie recently posted…HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!My Profile

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