Real life: How I cut my social smoking habit

Aimee Leabon
Monday, October 18, 2010
Image: Getty

Peter Griffiths, 29, was a social smoker for eight years but once he'd made up his mind to quit, the battle was half over, he tells Aimee Leabon.

I'd never touched a cigarette until my gap year in the UK in 1999. There was another Aussie I'd met who offered me one when we were out and I took it.

To be honest, I didn't really think much of it. I was too busy having a good time. I smoked for most of that year and when I got back, I had about six months off before I started up again. It was a similar situation, I was out drinking, a friend offered me a cigarette and I didn't hesitate. When I wasn't drinking I probably had eight to 10 cigarettes a day, but when you add alcohol into the mix obviously that figure increases.

The turning point
There were a few reasons why I decided to quit, but I have to admit, advertising played a big part. Watching ads on TV of smokers suffering from serious health conditions turned me off. There was one commercial in particular of a young woman with lung cancer that really planted a seed. I thought for the first time "that could be me", whereas my mentality before that was "I'm a young bloke under 30, I'll be right."

VIEW GALLERY: 10 tips from successful quitters

I was really lucky, I'd never suffered any health problems but I had made up my mind to quit. I tried a couple of things that didn't last long, then my wife suggested I try lozenges and that's what worked for me. The lozenges are nicotine replacement therapy and it's recommended you have one every few hours to prevent the urge to light up. I found that just having one when I felt like a cigarette was enough. Preventing opportunities to smoke throughout the quitting process was also important. I didn't go out drinking as much which was a really hard task!

Mind over matter
My wife will probably say that I was grumpier than usual for the first few weeks, but before that I hadn't really wanted to quit. Quitting smoking is more about conquering the mental aspect than the physical in my opinion. Once you get your head around it and decide that it's what you want and believe it, it gets a whole lot easier.

We went on an overseas holiday in 2007 and I forgot to take the lozenges with me. It wasn't until the flight home that we realised I hadn't thought about cigarettes or lozenges once. That's when I knew I was done.

Advice for other smokers

Find the right product for you if you decide to use one, and it may take you a few goes to work out what that is. Try and prevent situations where you regularly smoke because a lot of it has to do with routine. And lastly, have a support network. You need to get your head around the prospect of quitting, that will be your biggest obstacle.

Have your say below: What has worked for you?

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