Chapter 8
  1. Freedom from Substance Abuse

195. The “Warm Pheasant” Plan to Quite Smoking

You’ve heard of quitting cigarettes cold turkey--all at once, in a unflinching moment of resolution. Well, that works for some, but not all smokers. In fact, there are as many ways to quit smoking as there are brands of cigarettes for sale. If you’re like Mark Twain (who said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it over a hundred times”), you might want to try the “warm pheasant” method. Unlike the cold turkey approach, this three-phase plan allows you to continue to smoke, while you prepare to quit psychologically and physically.

Phase I: Preparing to Quit

This phase takes approximately one week.

  1. 1.Mark a “quit” date on your calendar one week in advance.

  2. 2.Keep track of each cigarette you smoke by making a slash mark on a piece of paper tucked in the wrapper of your cigarette pack.

  3. 3.Every time you have an urge to light up, wait 10 minutes.

  4. 4.Collect your cigarette butts in a “butt bottle.” (The mere sight of so many spent cigarettes will graphically demonstrate just how much you really smoke in a week.)

Phase II: Quitting

This phase takes approximately one to two weeks.

  1. 1.Throw away all your cigarettes and hide all smoking paraphernalia, like matches, lighters, ashtrays, and so forth.

  2. 2.Whenever you have an urge to smoke, take a deep breath through your mouth and slowly exhale through pursed lips. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

  3. 3.To eliminate familiar smoking cues, change your routine. If you always light up when driving to work, take a different route. Take a walk instead of your usual coffee ­– and cigarette – break. Sit in a chair you don’t normally use when relaxing or watching television at home.

  4. 4.Take up activities you don’t normally associate with smoking. Enroll in a cooking class, visit a nonsmoking friend, or go swimming at your local YMCA, for example.

  5. 5.Keep your hands busy by holding something–a pen, a Nerf Ball, or a binder clip, for example.

  6. 6.In place of cigarettes, substitute other things that will provide oral gratification, like sugarless gum or mints, toothpicks, or coffee stirrers.

  7. 7.Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol or eating foods high in sugar, like candy and pastries. They cause biochemical changes in the body that increases your desire for a cigarette.

  8. 8.Create a “ciggy bank” and put the money you used to spend on cigarettes in this jar. Watch it add up.

  9. 9.Place a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you get an urge to smoke.

Phase III: Staying off Cigarettes

Allow three months for this final phase.

  1. 1.Always remember that the craving to smoke will pass, whether you smoke or not.

  2. 2.Renew your commitment to stay off cigarettes each day.

  3. 3.Beware of saboteurs–usually other smokers–who may try to encourage you to light up. Assert your right not to smoke.

  4. 4.Talk to a nonsmoking buddy for support.

  5. 5.Make a list of good things you’ve noticed since you quit--food tastes better, you cough less, your clothes don’t smell bad, and so forth.

  6. 6.Continue to practice the behavior modification techniques listed in the quitting phase.

SOURCE: The Smokeless® program, developed by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, Farmington Hills, Michigan, 1983, 1989, 2000, 2007.