The Reluctant Quitter

Gentle reader, forgive my cynicism, but here we have another example of what might be called ‘The Hard Way to Quit Smoking’, this time from the website of New York City Government.

I’ve put selected quotes in italics and added comments that an imaginary smoker might make as he or she reads through the site.

The title is How to Quit Smoking. Odd that you should need instruction in how to stop doing something. Why can’t you just stop?

Deciding to quit smoking is a step in the right direction. So you have to make the decision first and then you’ll have made a step in the direction of actually doing it. Only a step? How many steps are there?

It can be hard… Really? Oh, in that case I won’t bother. Why do they have to tell me it may be hard? Was I wrong to think it would be easy?

By preparing yourself, you will be more likely to quit for good. I see, so it really will be hard, but I can make myself more likely to quit. How much more likely? And more likely than what?

The following eight steps can help make quitting easier. So now they tell me—there are as many as eight steps! And even if I follow them all it seems it can only help to make it easier, not easy.

Step 1: Decide why you want to quit. Well, it’s obvious, innit? Would I want to quit if I didn’t have a reason?

Review your reasons to stay motivated. Quitting is hard… They’ve already said it’s hard—why do they have to keep rubbing it in?

Step 2: Get support and encouragement. Tell your family, friends and coworkers that you are quitting. Ask for their support. It really must be hard if I need support from my family, friends and coworkers. And if I ask for their support, what are they supposed to do, exactly?

Here are some resources to help you quit: Think about using quit-smoking medications, like the nicotine patch or gum. They can reduce your cravings and double your chance of quitting successfully. Oh dear, I need ‘resources’ to help me quit, like the nicotine patch or gum. That doesn’t make sense—I’m trying to get off nicotine! Do I really have to go through all that? And it seems I’m going to have cravings!

Step 4: Pick a quit date. Choose a quit date carefully. Select a day when your routine will be as close to normal as possible (i.e., no vacations, major work deadlines or major life events such as weddings, moving, etc.) All this business about pick, choose and select means it’s no good trying to quit when I’ve a major life event such as a wedding? But this is the main reason I want to quit—I’m getting married! And then I have another major event—we’re moving house! And I was thinking this was the best time to quit! I guess I’ll have to put off quitting smoking, but in that case my intended may not want to marry me!

Step 5: Identify and learn how to deal with smoking triggers. I’ve heard of smoking guns, but smoking triggers? Oh, I see, triggers (or cues) to smoke. What are these? Well, let me go to the helpfully appended PDF on coping with triggers. Let’s see. The first one is Being around other people who smoke. And what do they recommend for that? Go to places where smoking isn’t allowed. Tell friends that you’re trying to quit. Brilliant, I’d never have thought of that. By the way, since I’m only trying to quit, I suppose it’s okay if I fail—tee-hee! Let’s look at another one. Taking a break at work: Try stretching or talk to a co-worker instead. I’m stretched enough as it is with all this trying to quit, and all my co-workers are smokers!

Step 6: Be ready to cope with cravings. This is getting worse and worse. Why do they have to repeat that I’m going to have cravings? And I need somehow to be able to cope with them!

I’ve have enough of all these steps. What else do they suggest? Ah, another PDF. This one’s called Don’t give up. But that’s just what I’m trying to do! Oh I see, they mean don’t give up trying to give up. Sense at last. And here are Other useful information and tips. What might these be?

Drink a glass of water
Pray or meditate
Distract yourself
Listen to music

Now I’ve got it! The way to increase my chance of quitting is to distract myself by drinking a glass of water while meditating standing on my head with music playing in the background. Impossible to smoke while I’m doing that!

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British medical doctor living in Japan who has developed a unique interactive stop smoking method. It involves no nicotine, drugs, hypnosis, or gimmicks but consists in helping smokers to demonstrate to themselves why they really smoke and why it seems so hard to stop doing it. Then most people find they can quit straightaway and without a struggle. He has used this approach successfully with hundreds of smokers; it works equally well for vapers. Dr Symonds also writes about transgenderism and other controversial medical matters. See

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