Photo: Lynne Berney
Lynne Berney, 39
I started smoking when I was in college and waiting tables at night. Everyone would sit in the corner at break time and smoke, so I started just to fit in. That was when I was about 18. It developed into an addiction, of course.
During my smoking years, I got married and had a baby. My husband hated that I smoked and got to the point that he didn't want to kiss me because of the taste of my mouth. I so regret that I exposed my beautiful daughter to that filth when I was carrying her.
The day I decided to quit for good was my 30th birthday. I decided that I wanted to be able to say "I only smoked when I was in my 20s." I quit by using the patch and prayinga lot. Also, I put the patch in hard-to-get-to areas so I couldn't rip it off easily when I had a craving. I also told myself that those patches were expensive and I wasn't wasting them!
I am almost 40 years old and so much happier now. I have more money in my pocket and get plenty of kisses from my husband!
Photo: Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox, 24
I was a smoker for almost eight years. I started when I was 17 and during college made a number of unsuccessful attempts at quitting. Unfortunately, neither my health nor all the money I was spending was enough motivation for me.
Then I came up with the idea for a "Nosmokeathon," in which I could raise money for cancer charities by being sponsored to not smoke cigarettes. The money I raised went to two great organizations, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). I had a blog so that sponsors could track my progress as well as the success of the fund-raiser.
The Nosmokeathon worked out great. I have not had a cigarette in 222 days and we have raised $2,297.50! I am well on my way to being a nonsmoker. And it sure feels great.
Photo: Loretta M. Craig
Loretta M. Craig, 45
I am an RN, and taking care of patients with pulmonary problems really made me feel guilty about being a smoker. The hospital I worked with at the time was becoming smoke-free and they offered to pay for us to quit smoking. So I used the NicoDerm patch and have been smoke-free for nine months now.
I can breathe better and I definitely smell better. But most important of all, I can honestly tell my patients that they should quit without feeling like a hypocrite.
I still sometimes have urges. For example, as a travel nurse, I travel long distances and I used to have the music blaring with the windows down and smoke away. It was an independent feeling for me. But now, I realize I can still enjoy those long trips and be healthy at the end of the road.
Marguerite Ewing, 52
I was a smoker for some 30 years. At the age of 45, I decided that I had had enough. My doctor gave me sample bottles of Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, and suggested waiting 15 minutes whenever I wanted a cigarette before lighting one up.
In about three weeks I realized that I was down to three or four cigarettes a day. Another week and I realized I had gone all day without a cigarette. I think the Wellbutrin helped because it allowed me to focus on what I was doing and not think about the cigarettes.
Oh yes, I still want a cigarette now and then, but I keep in mind the horrible odor that follows a smoker around, not to mention the bad breath. I did gain about 10 pounds, but that was it. My life is so much better. I smell better, my house smells better, I can take long walks, and food tastes so much better.
Photo: Yolanda Matthews
Yolanda Matthews, 42
On May 1, 2008, I checked into a hospital to remove some plaque from the arteries or veins in my left leg and a surgeon informed me that if I kept smoking, I would surely lose the leg and most probably the right leg also.
I had developed a blood clot in my popliteal artery that had totally occluded the lower part of my leg, leaving very minimal blood flow. The blood clot could not be busted, so eventually they sent me home. I went home depressed and disillusioned on May 18.
Still smoking a week later, I looked at my twin daughters and thought of the ridicule they would face from friends with a one-legged mother and the lost or limited opportunities we would haveand I went to the sink with my remaining cigarettes, wet them, and tossed them into the trash. That was it for me.
I gave my body time to heal from the nicotine and on July 2, 2008, my blood clot was busted and a stent inserted, and there is now blood flow to my foot. My girls are now very happy that their mother is smoke-freeand I really feel good and my future is brighter.
Suzanne Perkins, 47
I smoked for 25 years, quitting a couple of times cold turkey. During the times that I quit (once for a whole year), I craved a cigarette every day, even had dreams of smoking cigarettes.
Finally my husband suggested that we go to a hypnotist in Dallas. We went to Dallas, and I smoked the last cigarette in my pack while we waited for the hypnotist to arrive. When we were finished, I didn't feel any different, but just didn't crave a cigarette. I used to have the habit of lighting up when I got in the car to go somewhere. But suddenly I didn't have the urge to.
If you are one of the lucky ones who can be helped by hypnosis, it is the way to go. There are no cravings, no withdrawal at all. You are not consumed with thoughts of convincing yourself not to pick up that cigarette and smoke it.
How did I stop? I had a stroke. Being in a hospital room for 15 days and unable to walk sure as heck makes you take another look at your lifestyle. Don't think it can't happen. And I was just 42.
Photo: Sharon Pehrson
Sharon Pehrson, 69
I quit 10 years agoafter 42 years of smoking—by using a McDonald's straw, which is about the same size around as a cigarette. I cut it to the length of a cigarette and put a cigarette filter in one end.
When I was really nervous, I would take a couple of "puffs" on the straw. It helped give my hands something to do and it actually calmed me down. I used this for about two months, on and off, and then found I didn't need it anymore.
I hope this helps someone. It's nice to be the master of my own body and mind and not be a slave to tobacco.
Kathy Benson, 58
I have tried and tried to quit smoking. I tried the patch, auricular therapy, and hypnosis, but I still just keep it up.
I think with me it’s a power issue. I will be doing fine and my husband comments on it and I go buy a pack and smoke just to show him he cannot tell me what to do. Being on disability, I do not have the money to pay for a stop-smoking program again. My only grandson also has asked me again and again to quit, and even for him I have failed.
Sheila Derrwaldt, 56
I quit smoking 28 years ago during one of the first Great American Smokeouts. I was smoking about three packs a day and my then-boyfriend (now husband) said kissing me was like licking a dirty ashtray. Well, that's a disgusting image, isn't it?
I got some great advice, quit cold turkey, and added my own ideas over the years. Here's my quitting program.
1. The addictive qualities of smoking, both physical and emotional, don't last long. Then you just have to get used to living without cigarettes.
2. Carry a list of your top 10 reasons for quitting. Make it as personal as possible and pull it out when you're feeling weak.
3. Keep some kind of substitute with you. I usually suggest Tootsie Roll lollipops 'cause they last a long time and you can rewrap them after a few licks.