Kicking the Habit: An Interview With a Former SmokerEn Español (Spanish Version)
Kelly is a 52-year-old office manager for a law firm on the
East coast who gave up cigarettes after 29 years of smoking. Here's
how she did it and how she's been virtually smoke-free for over two
and a half years.
How long were you a smoker?
I started smoking when I was 21 years old and
smoked about one to one and a half packs of cigarettes a day.
Had you tried to quit smoking before?
I tried to quit twice, many years ago, before any
of the smoking cessation aids were available. Each time, I quit
cold turkey, but after three months, I was smoking again. At the
time, I felt young and healthy and two of my best friends were
smokers, so I really wasn't motivated to give it up yet.
What made you decide to try again?
I got sick. I came down with a bad bronchial
infection and decided it was time to quit. Also, my 50th birthday
Tell me how you quit.
I quit by using a combination of
nicotine patch. Zyban is an antidepressant that has been found
to curb cigarette cravings. I took the Zyban for one week before my
official quit date, which was the day I threw out the cigarettes
and slapped on the patch. My quit day was a Monday and by Sunday,
when I was smoking my last cigarette, I was already losing my taste
for them. On Monday, I added the patch. The brand I was using came
in three levels; I started with the highest level, which I wore for
one month, then moved to the intermediate for another month, and
the weakest for the last month. By the end of three months, I
removed the patch, quit taking the Zyban, and turned 50-as a non
smoker. That was two and a half years ago.
Did you make any other lifestyle changes?
I started going to the gym,
and doing the
, to avoid the weight gain that seems to be
inevitable when quitting smoking.
And did you experience any weight gain or other
Despite exercising, I did gain about ten pounds,
and it's taken me the past two and a half years to get rid of it. I
don't go to the gym any more, instead I
several miles a day for exercise. I didn't have any other
What type of support did you receive from family and
I was pretty determined, so I didn't need to rely
too much on other people for support. There are support groups for
people using Zyban to quit, but I didn't participate in one. The RN
from my doctor's office called me regularly to check on my
progress. Also, my daughter gave up desserts while I was quitting,
although when she first agreed to it, she thought the process was
only one month not three! But she stayed away from sweets for the
whole three months.
How difficult was it for you to quit?
It was actually very easy. The Zyban really killed
my taste for the cigarettes and I stayed out of situations where I
would normally smoke. Although I did allow myself to cheat upon
occasion, which I think was a big help. For me, knowing that I
could have a cigarette if I really wanted one was sort of a
psychological safety net. I don't think I could have quit if I
could never again have another drag. My doctor said it was okay to
have one once in a while, although not while I was on the
And when you have an occasional cigarette, do you
miss being a smoker?
No. I don't enjoy smoking as I once did, and that
first puff is awful on my lungs! My two best friends are still
smokers, so I will occasionally have a cigarette when I'm with
them, but I just don't have the desire or the taste for it
What costs were involved with quitting?
My insurance company did not cover the Zyban, so
the cost of this drug plus the nicotine patches amounted to $500.
This monetary investment was another motivator for me. I also saved
money from all the cigarettes I was not buying, and I put that
money toward a trip to the Caribbean to celebrate my 50th
Would you recommend this method to other people
trying to quit?
Absolutely. This combination of medications worked
great for me. But of course, you have to be motivated to quit for
yourself, which I certainly was.
Editor's note: This method of smoking cessation may
not work for everyone. Pharmaceutical aids for smoking cessation
tend to work best when complimented by behavioral change