My Quit Smoking Story – Book One
By Andreas Michaelides
Copyright © 2017 by Andreas Michaelides. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations, or except where permitted by law.
The information contained in this book is intended to be educational and not for diagnosis, prescription, or treatment of any health disorder whatsoever.
This book is sold with the understanding that neither the author nor publisher is engaged in rendering any medical or psychological advice. Readers should consult their physician before beginning a new exercise program, changing their diet, quitting smoking, or making other lifestyle changes.
The publisher and author disclaim personal liability, directly or indirectly, for the information presented within.
Although the author and publisher have prepared this manuscript with utmost care and diligence, and have made every effort to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained within, we assume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or inconsistencies.
The Best Way To Stop Smoking Permanently
My Quit Smoking Story – Book One.
ISBN: 978-9963-277-19-3 (EPUB)
Table of Contents
About the author
Smoking, A Curse
My First Attempt at Stopping Smoking
Quitting Smoking: Second Attempt
Quitting Smoking: Third Attempt
My Moment of Realization
Telling the World
My Father’s Tactic
Keep A Journal
Make A Big Deal Out of It
Nicotine, A Deadly Poison
Some Nasty Info about Nicotine
What Helped Me Stop Smoking
Other books by Andreas Michaelides
Write a Review
About the Author
Andreas was born in Athens, the city that gave birth to Democracy, in Greece, the country that taught to the world how to live, think, and have fun. He grew up on the beautiful island of Cyprus.
With both of his parent’s bibliophiles (and his father a high school teacher), Andreas grew up with love and appreciation for literature. In addition to the books he borrowed from the school library, a stack of encyclopedias taught him about the world. A history lover from age 13, he devoured the memoirs of Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaul, and by age 17, he had read all of Julius Vern’s books.
After serving his country for 26 months immediately after finishing high school, Andreas studied in Patra, Greece to become a computer engineer. With his Master of Computer Engineering and Informatics, he began working in the Informatics Department of the local university hospital and started reading again with a vengeance.
In 2004, Andreas authored his first book, a historical novel that has not yet seen the light of publication. Leaving it unpublished made him feel like a failure, but a lot has changed since then. Eleven years later, he has successfully quit smoking and has been smoke-free for the past six years. He has also started running again and managed to lose 26 kg (57 lbs).
Andreas has run three marathons, as well as many half- marathons and other shorter races. His love for running is what renewed him and actually saved his life.
Multiple medical problems pushed Andreas to research and experiment with a plant-based diet; since 2013 he is following a whole plant based diet.
In addition to running, Andreas enjoys hiking, cycling, playing basketball, camping, photography, and going out with friends and family and having fun.
You can find and follow Andreas at:
Smoking, A Curse!
As I mentioned in my first book, Thirsty for Health, I had an ulcer in my stomach and my duodenum. The ulcer was caused by my junk food diet, including the consumption of caffeinated sodas and coffee, which are two highly acidic substances once they have metabolized. Smoking was another contributing factor, as it destroys the inner protective layer of your stomach that would otherwise protect you from the acidity of the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach.
Growing up, I would watch my father smoke with a vengeance. My mother, my siblings, and I were second-hand smokers because we lived in the same house as my dad.
Second-hand smoke comes from two sources: the end of a burning cigarette and the exhaled smoke of a smoker.
I don’t remember my father smoking when we were in the same room together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen. My mother would pester him to stop, as she would always tell us “No” in a motherly tone while waving her index finger towards my siblings and me. She never wanted us to smoke and said that our father was naughty for doing so.
Second-hand smoking is as deadly as being an actual smoker. Cigarette smoke is a carcinogen that can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic cough, increased mucus, trouble controlling asthma, lung cancer, lung infections and pneumonia are also caused by being a smoker or inhaling second-hand smoke.
One good thing that Cyprus got out of becoming a member of the EU (European Union) was that the government had to apply some rules, laws, and regulations, one of which was the ban on cigarette smoking in public areas. The banning of cigarette smoking in public decreased the incidence of second-hand smoking tremendously.
Before this law was enacted, people had to endure the disgusting smoke of those sitting next to them, including a lot of places lacking proper ventilation. However, most locations now have areas distinctly dividing smokers and non-smokers, which will give non-smokers more freedom and make people efforts who want to stop smoking easier. Having a smoke-free social life after you quit smoking is an excellent form of psychological support.
When I was in high school, our theology teacher assigned us to a project, which was to write something that we would never do in our life. I wrote about smoking, and it turned out to be a decent assignment; I think I got 17 out of 20 points. I was very much convinced that I would never smoke because I had done my homework and I knew the harm smoking cigarettes cause to the body. Why would anyone intentionally start a “habit” that would only destroy his or her health? I had the knowledge that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases (including chronic airway obstruction, emphysema, and bronchitis).
On average, tobacco smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers; every cigarette smoked reduces one’s life expectancy by 11 minutes. Furthermore, a single cigarette contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to be carcinogenic, meaning they cause cancer.
These were good, solid facts, but I didn’t have the photos of lung cancer to see it and relate to it; that would help me by shocking me enough that I would never have begun smoking. But back in 1990, the Internet did not exist in Cyprus, and the only way I could have found a photo like that was in medical books, which were not widely available. Similarly, seeing a human heart damaged severely by nicotine would also have been a reminder of the awful thing that would happen to me if I started smoking.
I only acquired sterile written information, which has a much lesser impact than an image of what smoking can do to you. From my experience (as well as from reading and talking with other people), I’ve found that you can show smokers a ton of gruesome photos and scary facts about smoking, but they will not attempt a change until they are ready to.
I used to believe that a non-smoker should still present smokers with scary facts about smoking. In my first book, Thirsty for Health, I wrote that it could help them even if they don’t see it as help at that particular moment but as an annoyance. I also wrote that it could help to bring them closer to that moment of being ready to change. I also wrote that I personally found it annoying when people would inform me of how bad smoking is (back when I smoked), but I now know that subconsciously, it helped me to reach my ready-to-change moment sooner.
After more researching and soul searching, I discovered and realized that a smoker, in reality, is a legalized drug addict and no matter how many cruelsome pictures of a lung with cancer or scary movies or pictures are presented, they will not stop smoking because they are drug addicts. Telling a smoker that he will get that and that by smoking is like knocking on a deaf man’s door. That’s not the way to proceed.
I remember seeing a TV interview when I was still a high school student of the actor Yul Brynner, who died from lung cancer. You could see the remorse in his pale face from being a smoker for so many years. He was asking people not to smoke, and it made an impact on me because I liked Yul Brynner and his movies—he was, and still is, one of my favorite actors.
I remember that in my school assignment, I drew a small drawing showing a cigarette with a cobra emerging from the smoking end of it, sticking its forked tongue out. This TV interview engaged more senses than just my eyesight; it engaged my hearing also, the tone of his voice coupled with his weak gestures and the agony shown through his facial movements. It was an excellent educational tool that had the impact that I mentioned earlier, but alas, it was not enough to keep me away from smoking when the crucial moment knocked on my door.
This link is the interview that I watched so many years ago:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS3dd-OhsP4 (if the link is broken, then you can always search for it on Google or YouTube using the keywords “Yul Brynner cancer advertisement, ” and you will find it).
That was when I was 17. At that time, my father was a heavy smoker; he was 43, and he had been smoking since he was 19, he pick up smoking when he went to serve his military service.
I swore to myself that I would never smoke. It was the only thing I did not like about my father, and I couldn’t do anything to get my dad to stop back then.
Six months after that assignment, I finished high school. Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974—killing, raping and making refugees about 200,000 people in their own island, and until today, illegally occupy the north part of Cyprus. Because of this illegal occupation, all able males fit for military duty are required to enlist in the army after they finish high school to provide the Republic of Cyprus with the adequate military workforce.
As a result, I joined the army to serve my nation and my country for 26 months (Service is now reduced to 14 months). I am proud of my service. I learned a lot, and the army made me tougher and smarter. The army is a different society, with quick, down-to-earth lessons in reality and the hardships of life.
After some unfortunate events in my second year in the military, I started smoking in a moment of weakness. The irony was that I started smoking the same brand my father had begun smoking when he was in the army—talk about subliminal emotional messages.
I was so stupid for starting. I would cough and get dizzy every time I inhaled cigarette smoke, but for some twisted, mindless reason, I would continue to smoke until the coughing went away and the light-headed feelings were replaced by the addition of euphoria-inducing nicotine.
Like one of my cousins told me in one of our many conversations about smoking if the tobacco industries found a way to make a cigarette that would have the effect of the smoke and deliver nicotine to the brain without putting tar in the lungs, then everyone would smoke. Without knowing it, my cousin had somehow prophesied the introduction of electronic cigarettes, which, by the way, is not innocent as many people think; it’s just as deadly as a regular cigarette.
Whenever I would go home on leave from the army, I would not smoke in front of my mother because I didn’t want to make her sad, but my mom is no fool: she could smell my breath, and my clothes were also saturated in cigarette smoke. The cigarettes I was smoking at that point had left a yellow coating on my fingernails and my fingers of my right hand; and my teeth were a bit yellow, too. But she didn’t say anything. I now wish that she had said something back then because maybe I would have stopped out of shame or not wanting to disappoint her.
So, to all mothers out there, if you know your kids smoke, confront them about it. You might get through to them or you might not, but at least you might help them to reach their realization moment much sooner.
After serving in the army, I studied at school. I got a seat on the Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics at Patra University, which was my first choice. I was very proud of myself for achieving that.
I remember I was serving the first two months of my army service (I was still in training camp) when I called my father.
After waiting for an hour to use the phone (there were no mobile phones back then) and when he told me I got the seat at the university, I jumped up, screaming from the bottom of my throat from excitement and happiness.
I remember one of the guys teased me by asking, “Are you going to be an astronaut?” But I was so happy that I just ignored the comment—and yes, I was an astronaut that moment, because I was flying with the stars; I wasn’t on the ground for the next few seconds. It was one of the few amazing and memorable moments of my life, and we don’t get many of those, so cherish them and live them intensely when you experience one.
When I was studying and working in Greece, smoking became part of my life. I forgot about all the bad things I knew it would do to me; I was lulled into a kind of false nirvana, which I was not aware of.
At the start, I smoked just a few cigarettes a day. Then it became a pack a day. Then 20 cigarettes a day. Then I replaced the 20-cigarette pack with a 25-cigarette pack each day. Finally, during the last years before I stopped smoking, I was up to around 60 to 80 cigarettes daily!
I experimented with all the different brands of cigarettes until I settled on one. I also used to smoke Old Holborn, which is a brand of hand-rolled tobacco. I was so clumsy when I tried to roll the first one. It was a disaster, and that alone should have made me stop smoking that kind of cigarette, but unfortunately, I saw it as a challenge I would not walk away from.
At first, I bought a hand-held rolling machine, which did expedite the cigarette-making process, but I would also practice rolling them with my hands, because carrying around that machine, the rolling paper, the lighter, and the tobacco made my pockets too bulky.
Eventually, I became good at rolling cigarettes with only one hand. I was under the false impression that because it would take me more time to prepare the cigarettes instead of picking them up from a packet, ready to smoke, that I would smoke less—I would exercise this futile practice whenever I was trying supposedly to cut down on smoking. But I would end up sitting down on the weekends and rolling the cigarettes I would smoke for that week, and I ended up smoking, even more, cigarettes than when I was buying them by the pack.
Like the American Revolution and other revolutions around the globe, there wasn’t just a single revolt, but there were multiple attempts to achieve freedom from tyranny and slavery, I had a lot of failed attempts before I could free myself from the slavery of nicotine, which I was mentally and physically addicted to.
It was early October 1996 when I had just finished exams in my second year in university. Compared with previous tests, I had done well, so I wanted to make a present for myself. I always knew deep down in my heart and my soul that smoking was killing me from the inside out, blackening my lungs and spirit. I decided to try to stop smoking.
Back then, I saw smoking as something that was necessary for me, a trusted friend that was always there for me in any situation. I am sure there are smokers out there who want to stop smoking but feel like I did back then when I was still a student.
My First Attempt at Stopping Smoking
I wasn’t exactly mentally ready yet to be able to stop; my mindset was not fully prepared to face the physiological and emotional steps to becoming a non-smoker. Becoming a non-smoker is a dramatic lifestyle change.
I asked other people who had supposedly successfully stopped smoking, and one of them suggested I try the nicotine replacement patch, which provides a source of nicotine that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in someone who stops smoking.
I went to the pharmacy where a friend of mine worked and asked him for nicotine patches. He was a bit surprised for two reasons: first, the only time he would see me there was when I was buying condoms, and secondly, he couldn’t believe that I would stop smoking. We started talking, and he asked me how many cigarettes I smoked a day, which brand I smoked, and how many milligrams of nicotine the cigarettes contained.
I asked him why all the questions, and he said my answers were crucial to determine the strength of the patch and the length of time to be used.
He told me to apply the patch to a clean, hairless, dry area on my upper arm; I should only use one every 24 hours unless I wanted to overdose and leave this planet. Despite nicotine’s high toxicity, a person cannot overdose on nicotine just by smoking. Overdose, however, can happen if a person uses too many nicotine patches or chews too much nicotine gum. He also told me to replace the piece patch at a given moment and that I could wear it even during taking a shower, which I thought was cool because I could still get my fix while water was dropping on me, something I couldn’t do while smoking a cigarette.
Finally, he showed me how to apply the patch. He mentioned that in two weeks time, I should come back to get a patch with a smaller dose, gradually decreasing the dose with the ultimate goal to completely remove it from my system.
I went home and put the nicotine patches packet on my handmade coffee table, which was a stack of books that I read and a piece of wood on top. I sat on the bed and stared at the pharmacy bag, wondering whether I was ready and whether I was strong enough to be victorious.
It was around 6 p.m. when I applied my first patch. I had to remember to change the old with the new same time daily so I wouldn’t get any withdrawal symptoms.
The first two days were okay. It seemed that I didn’t have the urge to smoke, maybe because I stayed home and did household chores, read a book, and had pretty good control over my actions.
The third day, I had to go out for a coffee, and that’s when it hit me. I wanted to smoke so badly. I always smoked while having my coffee, plus all my friends were smoking. Seeing all the automatic mouth and hand gestures urged me to pick up a cigarette and light it, put it in my mouth and inhale a long-lasting puff and then hold it for a few seconds in my lungs before exhaling the dark smoke of sin into the air.
But I managed to withstand the urge, even after all the teasing from my friends, who didn’t want me to stop smoking. (If you want to quit smoking, from personal experience, you need to temporarily stop hanging around people that smoke, at least first two to three weeks).
The fourth day was doomsday. I broke down when I and “the gang” went out to a club with loud music, dancing, and drinking. I had never been a heavy alcohol drinker, but I would always smoke when having a beer or my very rare whiskey, and that’s when I gave in. I lit a cigarette, and as you smokers know, it only needs to be one to become a smoker, so my first try at stopping was a failure; the nicotine patch didn’t work for me.
Apply the patch in different spots and not on top of the previously used space. I only used the patch for four days, but it gave me a rush because I didn’t use another spot. (I was too lazy to shave the hair on my arm to make space for other patches. What can I say? I like my hair.)
I didn’t experience any of the common side effects, maybe because I used it for only four days.
I guessed when he didn’t see me after two weeks; the pharmacy guy would assume he was right about me. Of course, he saw me again, as I had to buy condoms anyway.
Back then, electronic cigarettes were not available in Greece, so I didn’t have the pleasure of trying that to stop smoking. I have read a lot of good reviews, and it seems to be a healthier alternative than smoking real cigarettes, but they do still have deadly effects because of the nicotine. Of course, there is also the side effect of coughing up tar, which happens whether you switch to e-cigarettes or stop entirely; it’s because your body is trying to get rid of the tar in your lungs because you’re no longer adding to the problem by smoking cigarettes made by tobacco leafs.
While e-cigarettes are considered healthier because they have no tar, they still have nicotine, so if you switch to e-cigarettes, you will remain an addict. I think if e-cigs had been available when I was attempting to stop, I would be smoking them today.
Quitting Smoking: Second Attempt
My second attempt at stopping smoking was also a disaster. After the nicotine patch failure, I decided to stop smoking cold turkey. I ceased buying cigarettes, threw away all of my matches and lighters, and gave away all of my ashtrays. I was determined to get rid myself of this culprit finally.
I lasted for a week, which was fantastic, especially considering I had chosen the worst week of my life to stop smoking: final exams week. On the sixth day of that week, I started crying for no reason; I would just start to cry while doing anything, even eating, and suddenly tears would run down my face. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I called my parents and told them that I couldn’t seem to stop crying, and after a little benevolent interrogation, I mentioned to them that in addition to dealing with my final exams, I had also decided to quit.
They told me (to be fair I don’t remember if it was mom dad or both of them) to start smoking again because that was probably the cause of my sudden crying bouts. Their advice was a bit of a shock to me because I had expected a more supportive attitude towards my decision to stop smoking—the last thing I had expected to hear was advice to start smoking again.
They were right, though. As soon as I started smoking again, the crying bouts stopped. I think the combined stress of the exams and stopping smoking was the cause of my crying, as I was neither physically nor emotionally ready for the challenge of such a drastic change
Quitting Smoking: Third Attempt
I like reading books a lot, which is something I inherited from my parents, who are both avid readers. Around 1998, on one of my trips to the USA, I sat on the plane next to a lady who had a book in her hand titled The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.
Curious by nature, I asked her what the book was about. She told me that the author claimed that when you finished reading this book, you would stop smoking; she also said you don’t have to quit while reading it.
The thought stuck in my mind, and years after, when I returned to Cyprus and worked as a substitute teacher, I saw one of my colleagues reading the same exact book. I remembered the lady on the plane telling me about it, so I asked her where I could find a copy. My colleague gave me the name of a bookstore, and the next day, I bought one.
I read it while I had my breaks between classes, and it took me a month to finish. It is a fantastic book that methodically debunks every reason or excuse someone may have not to quit smoking, and it lets you decide whether you want to keep smoking or not.
To be honest, I did not follow all of the directions in the book (maybe that’s one of the reasons it did not work with me), but it did leave an impact on me. When I finally stopped smoking, all of my previous failed attempts to quit helped me to achieve my present cigarette-free state.
In 2005, I returned to Cyprus. Of course, at the time, I was still a smoker. I would smoke in front of my mother, and with my father, we would buy cartons of cigarettes that we would smoke together, which totaled about 200 cigarettes a week on average.
I kept myself busy by working three jobs from Monday to Friday and helping my father with his farming chores over the weekends. Juggling three jobs made me feel very anxious, and whenever I got anxious or stressed, I would light a cigarette.
My Moment of Realization
I smoked until May 2009, when something changed me.
I would always wake up in the mornings without being able to breathe satisfactorily; my nose would always be blocked, and I didn’t have a sense of smell. My mother has beautiful roses in her garden that smell fantastic, but I couldn’t detect their aroma, nor could I feel the jasmine ticture that was on our front porch. Because smoking had stifled my sense of scent, I was also unable to smell food and the different flavors in it.
When I was a student in Greece, and later in life, I would get the flu very easily and very often; I would get sick at least five to six times in a year. Now, if it only took a couple of days to get well from the flu and colds, that would be no issue worth mentioning, but unfortunately, it would always take about 7 to 10 days to recover fully.
While I was ill, my nose was blocked, my chest always felt like a fat man had sat on it, and I also suffered psychologically. I was so sick that I couldn’t enjoy smoking, which subconsciously informed me that I could live without it because when I was sick, I could go without smoking for 7 to 10 days, and I didn’t have any cravings or urges (which I always found weird).
During that time, my body would clean out some of the ugly stuff. Altogether, I was sick for around 4 to 6 weeks each year! Me being sick often was because of the destructive effects that smoking had on my immune system and other systems.
The reason smokers get sick more frequently and more severely is because the cigarette smoke prevents the cilia (the “brooms” of the lungs) from cleaning the lungs.
Also, the lungs and the airways have more mucus, which clogs them and makes you cough; this extra mucus that cannot be removed can easily result in an infection.
Smoking destroys the lung tissue, reducing the air capacity, which means less oxygen is carried to the body, and overall, you are less protected from infection because the natural defenses that your lungs have against infection don’t work as well.
I also noticed that I gained a lot of weight; I was 84 kg (185 lbs), and I am 1.74 m (5 feet 9 inches) tall. I was overweight, and I knew that when you smoke, you don’t gain as much because it curbs one’s appetite, but there I was, a smoker who was overweight—not a very safe and healthy combination. I was a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen, and I was only 35 years old!
I was tired all of the time (my three jobs were sedentary ones, and I never had the time or motivation to exercise). I also started getting nasty acne on my chest and shoulders.
One of my three jobs was as a computer technician. One day, I got a call from a customer asking me if I had finished fixing his PC. I had, and he said because he was in a hurry, he would drive over, and I should meet him on the road and deliver his PC there.
From my place on the road is a small hill. Because I had other things on my mind, I completely forgot that I had to meet the guy, so he gave me a call while he was on the street to remind me. I answered, I apologized, and then I grabbed the PC and ran uphill to go to the road. I couldn’t believe that I almost didn’t make it; I was aching everywhere, my lungs were screaming for oxygen, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I almost dropped the computer, and the guy thought I had a heart attack.
That’s when I woke up. All of my previous knowledge about smoking, all of my previous failed attempts at stopping, and all of the experiences around smoking somehow came together like a jigsaw puzzle and woke me up, breaking the fog that had prevented my mind from seeing the road.
The next day, I had an appointment with my dermatologist about the acne on my chest. One the things he said I should do was stop smoking: I think it was the first time I heard someone telling me that, and I agreed with him without getting angry.
Coming home with my father driving, we were smoking together, and I said that I wanted to quit. To my surprise, my dad agreed with me and said, “Yes, let’s stop smoking.” I think we smoked our last cigarette together in the car, or maybe we finished the last pack that we had on us the next day, but what matters is that we are both smoke-free since 2009.
The next day, my father did not buy any cartons of cigarettes. We told my mother that we would stop smoking, and I don’t remember mom ever being happier in her life. By smoking in front of her, we had poisoned her with our smoke—and passive smokers have it the worst, because they only inhale all of the nasty stuff, like tar, without even having the “reward” of the nicotine.
I felt bad that I had been a smoker for 16 years and that my smoking had hurt the people around me, including people I cared about, like my mother. While teaching at a private high school, I remember my students telling me that the exercises and their tests (which I would take home to correct and grade) smelled of tobacco. At the time, I thought they were crazy or lying to me (probably because my sense of smell was dulled), but they were right, and I can see that now.
Before I stopped smoking, one very dear first cousin of mine stopped smoking years before me. I remember standing outside his door, smoking, and I asked him something related to smoking—he told me that if I respected him and also respected myself, I would never smoke in front of him. That made me angry because it hit a nerve. I knew he was right, but in a twisted, unreasonable way, I was not ready to accept it. But now I see he was right because he was in the state of mind that I am now. Now, I see other people smoking, and I see them of what they really are, drug addicts that need help.
Telling the World
I announced to my colleagues, friends, and relatives that I was no longer a smoker because I knew that if everyone knew I had stopped smoking, I would have peer pressure not to start again, which would help me to remain a non-smoker.
My father and I threw away our matches, lighters, and ashtrays; anything that reminded us of cigarettes vanished.
Stopping to smoke forever wasn’t easy. I think the reasons I managed to finish once and for all were that, first, I wasn’t alone. I was stopping with my father, which was good because we were supporting and helping each other. Secondly, I was mentally and emotionally ready: I wanted to stop because I finally understood what I had been doing to myself and others around me for the last 16 years (which was killing myself slowly, cigarette by cigarette, removing about eleven minutes of my life every time I finished smoking a cigarette).
On Tuesday, May 19th, 2009, I decided to quit. This decision played a major role in my life, as it was a very significant, active catalyst for my present health status. My father and I chose to get rid of the filthy addiction; thankfully, we were victorious at the end.
To any other people out there who belong to the significant percentage of individuals who quit smoking and remain non-smokers: quitting smoking is a big success for you, and you should celebrate your accomplishment every year with friends and family. Make a big thing out of it and reward yourself for remaining a non-smoker. If you think about it, you should celebrate this kind of life-changing anniversary with even more enthusiasm than your birthday, name day, or marriage. You are celebrating your anniversary of stopping smoking. You were reborn into a new, healthier, happier you; a better version of you emerged, and a new destiny awaits you.
The three first weeks of stopping smoking were psychologically hell for me. The nicotine withdrawal symptoms started almost immediately after my dad, and I had our last cigarette.
I couldn’t sleep well, but then again, I hadn’t had a restful sleep in years. Stopping smoking wasn’t the only reason for my insomnia, but it did intensify it; I could feel a big hole in my chest that was my craving for a cigarette.
I was unfocused, irritable, and I lost my temper very quickly, which is why I didn’t get much work done during those days (I didn’t want to scare away any customers with my bad mood). I had a constant mental itch in my head as if someone were pricking me with a needle; even today, just thinking about how it felt makes me want to scream.
I also started to eat a lot more than I used to because my appetite had increased. When I would sit in front of a computer (either installing programs or fixing something hardware related), I would usually smoke. Now, I had to do something else with my hands and my mouth instead so I would eat sandwiches, croissants, chips, and drink ice tea and non-caffeinated soda (I gave up caffeine years ago because of my stomach ulcer).
One of the little life experiences that helped me to realize that I could stop smoking and that smoking was not useful or necessary for me was my freedom from caffeine. I figured, “If I could rid myself from caffeine, then why not free myself from nicotine, too?”
I read somewhere that nicotine will leave your body by a fat percentage within three weeks of quitting. I told myself that if I can last for three weeks without smoking, then I will not have any excuse for wanting to smoke because the addictive agent will not be on my system; so that was another reason never to smoke again.
I managed to get through the first three weeks. During those three weeks, I did not go out with friends. I avoided all acquaintances and relatives or situations in which I might have to see another person smoke, and I even stayed away from the TV in case I saw a movie where people would be smoking.
The first three weeks are very crucial to your success as a non-smoker; you need to become a little hermit (as social life is concerned) for a while before you go outside and into the world. For other people, it might be a little more or a little less than three weeks, but you will need that period to build your confidence, to be able to admit to yourself and convince yourself that you are not a smoker anymore. You have nothing to do with smoking, that you are a new person, and that you are like a snake with a new skin after it has shed its old one.
Whenever I had the urge to smoke, when I was on the edge of going to my neighborhood’s mini market to buy cigarettes, I would chew on toothpicks. I would also cut plastic straws into smaller pieces and then chew on them. Also, I would, of course, eat or drink; I would imagine I was on a plane traveling to an exotic destination and I would remind myself that smoking is forbidden on the aircraft.
I would hug myself and go and lay in my bed, singing or thinking about something else until the addictive urge went away. I would close my ears with my hands and scream difficult words until the need to smoke left.
I did all of those things day in and day out until the urge was not as intense as it had been during the first week. I could feel the level of my addiction fading away, which only made me stronger, both mentally and emotionally. After the first two weeks, I realized that it would be even easier and that I would beat this thing; finally, I would be victorious.
My Father’s Tactic
While I preferred to chew on toothpicks and drinking straws, my father used another way to fight the urges: he would chew gum. Like me, he would also eat and drink instead of smoking.
Keep a Journal
I made a calendar on May 19th, 2009 to May 19th, 2010; every smoke-free day, I would note it on the calendar. Keeping a diary gave me a sense of duty, and it strengthened my resolve to go through with stopping smoking.
I also started writing a diary. In the beginning, I wrote daily. It helped me a lot to keep going and not give up.
After about six months of being a non-smoker, I stopped writing in it, but it had fulfilled its purpose.
I concluded that if I could last for a year without smoking, then I would be 100% sure that I would stay a non-smoker for life. Now, I made those assumptions based on thinking that if I could manage to be smoke-free through all social situations. Like going out for a coffee with friends who smoke, going to a club where I would have a drink, hanging out after lunch or dinner, or after I had sex—then my brain would make new neuron connections, showing me a life without smoking. I knew I had to retrain myself to live a smoke-free lifestyle.
You need to go through your life as a non-smoker for a year (because one year will cover almost all of the things you used to do when you were a smoker), which will show you that it is possible to get through every situation you encounter in normal life without smoking.
I remember that in the summer of 2009, my best friend and I enjoyed a week in Prague. If you haven’t visited Prague, please go or at least put it on your bucket list. The city vista was one of the most beautiful I ever seen in my life, I almost cried. The cleanliness was fantastic, there were so many things to see, and Prague has a lot of towers, which I found surprising. We went in June, which was about 30 to 40 days after I quit smoking. My sinuses had opened, and I could smell again. I felt better because my sleep improved, and I could breathe normally again for the first time after a long time. I also felt more energy without being able to explain why.
There wasn’t a single tower or tower clock in Prague where I didn’t climb the stairs to the top. Just a few days before visiting Prague, I had almost collapsed from running up a small hill at my house, but now I was climbing 200 to 300 steps in one breath. It was a pleasant experience, and it helped me see what I had been missing when I had been a miserable smoker.
My friend, who was a smoker at the time, had to use the elevator or when there was none, he would wait at the bottom of the tower for me.
Make A Big Deal Out of It
Then September came, and I celebrated my first smoke-free birthday since I had started. I felt great, to be honest. Every time I saw someone smoke, whether in real life or the movies or TV shows, the craving was there, but it was getting smaller and smaller every day it passed. Although the nicotine was gone from my system, the psychological cravings remained, partly because of my associations with the feel, the smell, and the sight of a cigarette and the ritual of obtaining it, lighting it, and handling it. Those actions and sensations were linked in my mind to the pleasurable effects of smoking, which is what made me crave it.
That’s why I was convinced that if I could last a year, then my mind would see that I could live without smoking and know that it was only psychological.
Nicotine, A Deadly Poison
Nicotine is found in the tobacco plant, and it is the natural protection of the plant so it won’t get eaten by insects. Its widespread use as an insecticide for crops is now being blamed for killing honey bees. A toxin, drop for drop, nicotine has proven to be as lethal as strychnine and, in studies performed on animals, is now three times deadlier than arsenic.
Some Nasty Info about Nicotine
Nicotine is highly addictive. The ingestion of nicotine results in a discharge of epinephrine from the adrenal cortex, causing a sudden release of glucose. Stimulation is followed by depression and fatigue, leading the abuser to seek more nicotine.
Nicotine is a highly toxic chemical. In rats, a dose of 50 mg per kg is lethal; in mice, the median lethal dose is around 3 mg per kg; and in humans, the median lethal dose is 0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg (or around 40 to 60 mg in an average person).
This little lethal dose makes nicotine more toxic than many other compounds, even including alkaloids such as cocaine, which has a median lethal dose of 95.1 mg per kg in mice.
Nicotine can be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly through the skin. If a highly high concentration of nicotine is spilled on the skin, this can lead to toxicity and death.
What Helped Me Stop Smoking
1. A healthy state of mind. You should want to quit smoking, and you must not have any doubts about what is your goal and why are you doing it.
2. Stopping for you. You should not stop as a favor for someone else. If you don’t quit smoking for yourself, then you will start smoking again once the conditions that led you to stop return again.
3. Quit smoking with a friend, a family member, or a group of people. The mutual emotional support is invaluable.
4. Announcing to everyone you know that you are going to stop smoking: family, friends, colleagues, and others. It’s positive peer pressure.
5. Removing anything that reminds you of smoking (whether in your car or house): lighters, matches, ashtrays, pipes, machines that roll cigarettes, snuff boxes. Get rid of them all, even if some of them were presents from loved ones. Throw all smoking paraphernalia in the trash.
6. Buy some chewing gum(nicotine free), toothpicks or drinking straws to chew on (or eat and drink instead of smoking; you might gain a few pounds, but your goal is to stop smoking, so you can worry about nutrition and live an otherwise healthy lifestyle later). Try not to replace smoking with food; a few pounds is okay to gain but do not let yourself go and use food as a crutch for quitting smoking.
7. Making a list of things to do instead if the strong cravings and urges come knocking your door (and then follow through).
8. Creating a calendar and crossing off every day that you are smoke-free. Write how you felt during craves and what did you do to overcome them. Read each previous entry log before you go to bed.
9. Keeping a diary to write down how you feel will help you with your confidence (and yes, guys can do this, too; it’s not girly to keep a diary).
I hope sharing my smoking and stopping experience helps you to quit smoking or at least think about quitting smoking. Remember, no matter how many years it’s been, it’s never too late to change. Here is a list of what happens after you stop smoking; the effects are phenomenal:
Within 20 Minutes
Your blood pressure returns to its usual level.
Your pulse rate slows to normal.
Your circulation has improved enough that your hands and feet warm to normal body temperature.
Within 4 Hours
Half of the carbon monoxide from your last cigarette has left your bloodstream.
Within 8 Hours
The carbon monoxide of your last cigarette is now left your blood. Your blood now carries an average amount of oxygen.
Within 24 Hours
Your chance of a heart attack becomes lower.
Within 48 Hours
Damaged nerve endings start to re-grow.
Your sense of smell and taste improve.
Within 2 Weeks to 3 Months
Your circulation becomes better.
Walking and physical activity becomes easier.
Lung function increases up to thirty percent.
Within 1 to 9 Months
You cough less.
You have more energy.
You don’t become short of breath as quickly.
The cilia in your lungs re-grow, and you will have less phlegm and infection.
Within 1 Year
Your heart attack risk has fallen to the halfway mark between that of a current smoker and that of someone who has never smoked.
Within 5 Years
If you used to smoke a pack a day, you have now cut your risk of dying of lung cancer in half.
Your risk of heart attack and stroke approaches that of a non-smoker.
You have cut your risk of mouth, throat, and esophageal cancer by half.
Within 10 Years
Your chance of dying from lung cancer is almost as small as a non-smoker’s.
Your risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancer continues to diminish.
Within 10 to 15 Years
Your risk of dying from any cause is almost the same as that of someone who never smoked.
After reading a lot about nutrition, especially how to heal yourself by changing your diet, one of the first things I sat down and searched for was what kind of food I should eat and what else I could do to help my lungs and respiratory system, in general, to detoxify faster. I came up with this list:
1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. At least 9 servings of fruit and veggies a day.
2. The cleaning nutrients in garlic, onion, ginger, barley grass, kelp, and green tea help with your lungs.
3. Drink lots of water.
4. Drink herbal tea, such as fenugreek, thyme, or cardamom. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight the damage to the lungs.
5. Gradually increase your exercise level; exercise will force your lungs to start working again. Deep breathing and increased blood flow to the lungs will help eliminate and remove some of the toxins.
6. Get enough vitamin A. Check out what your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is for your age, sex, weight, medical condition, etc.
Before I close this first book of the series about how to quit smoking, I want to go through with you an average evaluation of how many years of my life I lost by smoking.
Let’s assume that on an average day, I smoked 40 cigarettes, which is a good estimate of my past smoking addiction.
365 days in a year, times 40 cigarettes per day, equal 14,600 cigarettes a year.
I smoked for 16 years; if we multiply 14,600 cigarettes per year by 16, we get a total of 233,600 cigarettes smoked!
Now we multiply 233,600 cigarettes by 11, which is the number of minutes that you cut your life short with every cigarette you smoke, that gives us 2,569,600 minutes. We divide that by 60 to find out how many hours which is 42826.67 hours. Divide that by 24, and we have 1784.44 days. Divide that by 365, and we have approximately 4.89 years lost from smoking.
I have lost almost five years of my natural life because of smoking, which was an addiction that offered me nothing and was robbing me of my health.
I only hope that with my running habit, which I started back in 2010, I will gradually get back those years with my good health. I also hope that my vegan diet will help to keep me healthy.
How much money did I spend on average on cigarettes during those 16 years of smoking? A pack of cigarettes is, on average, about 4.80 Euros now, so by dividing the numbers of cigarettes. I smoked (233,600 cigarettes) by the number in each pack (20 cigarettes), we get 11,680 packets; multiply that by 3, and we get 35,040 Euros ($35,040) on average that I spent to kill myself! I sure would love to have that kind of money saved in the bank rather than have smoked it.
Now, these numbers are without calculating the interest if I had that money in the bank!
I am not saying you are going to get wealthy with the money you save from smoking but it sure feels great when the end of the month comes and I have an extra 150 to 250 Euros!
The following list is made up from various calculators that I am sure you will find fascinating.
1. Free Online Quit Smoking Statistics Calculator (In my book, this is the best calculator I checked out thus far)
2. How much money you will save calculator.
3. How long will I live is a cool calculator
4. Smoking Risk Calculator
5. Quit Smoking Meter
6. Cost of Smoking Cigarettes Calculator
This first book of the series means a lot to me because smoking was a big part of my life—sixteen years, to be exact. I started smoking when I was 19, and I stopped when I was 35. That’s a lot of years! I can’t compare it with my father, who was a heavy smoker for 42 years!, but I am very glad that I stopped smoking, because as good luck would have it, my father stopped smoking, too. I am happy that I helped him to get rid of this awful disease and I also respect him for helping me, too.
My intentions here are to inform people, smokers, ex-smokers, and even non-smokers about the nicotine trap and how to escape it for the smokers, how not to fall back in for the ex-smokers, and also how not to get caught by it for the non-smokers. I give this book for free because I want to help people with tobacco smoking, so if you find it interesting, then a good review will help me a lot as a writer. Also, if you liked the book and wanted to learn more and educate yourself about how to stop smoking, or even help a friend or a family member to escape the nicotine prison. Buy the rest books of the series in eBook forms, or you can buy all the eBooks in one paperback version here. (put links)
The cost of the books is nothing compared to what a smoker pays to buy her cigarettes daily.
At least your money spent on my books will not go down the drain!
Other books by Andreas Michaelides
My fellow people, non-smokers, ex-smokers, and current smokers, let’s begin the catharsis, let’s learn a few useful truths of what smoking is, what nicotine is, and arm ourselves with some solid truthful, factual arguments to use. The non-smokers and ex-smokers can use them when they talk with other smokers and for the smokers to help them come to that realization point that you are a drug addict, and you need to recover to your previous nicotine free state, because trust me, that state is where you will find your true self.
You think the governments increase the price of cigs and add more taxes because they want to help smokers quit? Hell no, they know they are dealing with an addiction. A smoker will pay anything to get their fix. When I was a smoker, and it happened to be 2 a.m., all hell broke loose if I was out of cigs. I would walk kilometers to find a kiosk open to buy cigs. Nothing stopped me from getting my fix!
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My warmest regards
I wasn’t exactly mentally ready yet to be able to stop; my mindset was not fully prepared to face the physiological and emotional steps to becoming a non-smoker. Becoming a non-smoker is a dramatic lifestyle change. I asked other people who had supposedly successfully stopped smoking, and one of them suggested I try the nicotine replacement patch, which provides a source of nicotine that reduces the withdrawal symptoms in someone who stops smoking. I went to the pharmacy where a friend of mine worked and asked him for nicotine patches. He was a bit surprised for two reasons: first, the only time he would see me there was when I was buying condoms, and secondly, he couldn’t believe that I would stop smoking. We started talking, and he asked me how many cigarettes I smoked a day, which brand I smoked, and how many milligrams of nicotine the cigarettes contained.