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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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Unusual Ways to Quit Smoking

Tried everything? Maybe it's time for an offbeat approach to kick the habit.

Candy and Mantras

Susan Brannan, 33, of Rochester, N.Y., quit smoking using vitamin C drops and reciting a mantra she found online (NOPE- Not One Puff Ever). “I had been a pack-a-day smoker for 12 years and quit cold turkey using this method.” She had her last cigarette in 2007.

Brannan says she'd previously tried to quit using nicotine lozenges, but didn’t like the taste. With the lozenges, she weaned herself to smoke only on weekends, but after eight months went back to full-time smoking. Next, she thought of using gum, but worried about her dental work.

In the end, she settled on the vitamin C drops because she liked the citrus flavor. “In the beginning, I went through quite a few. I would say 15 or so every day. Over time, I used less and less.”

Brannan had not been a fan of using mantras, and thought it sounded a bit flaky. But she says it helped in the early weeks. 

"I would be alone in my car and the urge would strike to smoke. Having this little phrase to say out loud gave me the backbone I needed to resist the temptation.”

Get a New Hobby

Some people swear by replacing smoking with another activity. Reeve McNamara of Atlanta spent years trying to quit, and found the only thing that really worked was running.

“Runners always asked me how far I ran and my answer was until I did not want a cigarette, which started out as only a few miles, but now I have run up to 44 miles in a day," he says.

McNamara no longer craves cigarettes -- but the distance runner says he's now addicted to running.

Tough Love

Robert Brown, 46, director of the How Quit web site, modeled his smoking cessation program after the Marines.

“I've found that quitting smoking is less difficult when you believe you can do it.  As a former Marine, I had the belief in myself and knew that I could do it on my own. But there are thousands, maybe millions of smokers who aren't ex-military or highly disciplined and need help to quit.”

Brown combined effective techniques with boot-camp strategies to devise a program others can follow successfully. Tenets like dumping all smoking gear, using the buddy system, exhausting yourself with activities and exercise, and relying on team spirit comprise his boot camp-like quit regime.

Does it Work?

Dingwell says even with unconventional methods, the more approaches you use at the same time, the better your odds of lasting success. And "lasting" is what you really want.

Dingwell’s research on conventional means of quitting smoking show that "it does not matter what method a person used to initially quit smoking, long-term success rates drop for absolutely every method" that he has studied. So if freezing your last pack in a block of ice or betting your best friend would motivate you to quit and stay smoke-free, give it a go.

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Reviewed on July 29, 2010

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