How to Quit Smoking Like a Man
They say you have to want to quit smoking. But what smoker doesn’t want to quit?
Number one tip: Don’t try to quit smoking alone continued...
“In our clinic, we use Zyban [an antidepressant shown to help people quit
smoking] plus the patch plus one of the other replacement therapies,” says
Foulds. “We figure it’s a lifesaving intervention, so why do it halfheartedly?
These medicines are not very dangerous in themselves, so there’s no reason to
It’s perfectly all right to be on nicotine replacement for as long as
necessary to quit smoking. Nicotine has some obvious benefits — it makes you
more alert and seems to decrease the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
disease. And although it may increase blood pressure, its negative effects are
trivial compared to the thousands of other poisons in cigarette “tar,” which is
responsible for cancer, heart disease, and most other ill effects of smoking.
“If it’s a question of smoking or spending your life on nicotine replacement, I
choose the latter,” says Klesges.
Zyban, the brand name for bupropion, apparently works by activating reward
centers in your brain similar to the way nicotine does. A new drug,
varenicline, marketed as Chantix, blocks the receptors that get turned on when
you smoke, making smoking less pleasurable.
Studies seem to show varenicline is more effective than Zyban, but with a
cost. About a third of those who stayed on varenicline reported nausea. “A
colleague of mine who did one of the early trials said he could tell which
patients were getting the drug [and not the placebo] because they were turning
green,” says Klesges. Still, varenicline may be an option for some people.
The “never borrow a cigarette” rule
Once you’ve stopped, obviously, it’s essential to stay stopped. Relapses are
common, but Klesges has a system for keeping them to a minimum. The rule is
never relapse on a borrowed cigarette. If you need a cigarette desperately,
leave wherever you are and buy a pack at a store. Smoking is a sudden urge, one
that can fade on the way to the 7-Eleven. If it doesn’t, throw away the 19 left
in the pack that you don’t smoke.
“I’ve never had anybody follow these rules and relapse,” Klesges says. “But
a lot of people don’t follow the rules.”
A footnote: Three days after I submitted this story, on my 48th
birthday, I stuck a 14 mg nicotine transdermal patch on my arm. I’m on my
second day. Wish me luck.