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Up in smoke: One week until ‘quit’ day


Cigarette smokeWe continue to follow Becky Midgley in her quest to stop smoking through an eight-week programme set up by her employer. This week, with less people turning up to the session, she felt more confident in opening up about her cigarette habit.

With over half of the group ‘in meetings’, I found this week’s session more positive and engaging: it’s easier to become involved and feel a part of something if you are competing with fewer people to get your voice heard. This week I felt comfortable talking openly about my habit and where it all began, and with only six of us in the room, it seemed as though everybody felt more relaxed.

We started with some colleagues making their excuses for their absence; the advisor openly admitted that some level of dropout is usually expected, although she did seem surprised that it was so high here! None of us could predict who was still genuinely interested in quitting, although we enjoyed speculating about those who we thought were definite drop-outs.

“Because I am a creature of habit with this, I can chart each cigarette and an appropriate way to replace it.”

Then followed an open discussion about our individual smoking habit. It was interesting to discover how different the habit is for us all: some of us smoke only one a day (not me I’m afraid) and others smoke up to 20 a day. I rest somewhere in the middle at about five or eight a day (although that is a non-drinking day!)

We also discussed which cigarettes we each thought we would miss the most; the post-dinner cig came up trumps and, interestingly for me, two candidates said they enjoyed smoking after exercise, which I don’t personally. All in all, we ascertained that this is going to be equally difficult for us all in our own individual ways.

We moved on to discussing tactics; had we thought about what we will do to replace the time spent usually smoking? I had, and because I am a creature of habit with this, I can chart each cigarette and an appropriate way to replace it.

The morning cigarette on the walk into work will in some ways be the toughest – it sets the course of my day and psychologically prepares me. My 11am smoke-off with colleagues will be replaced with a short walk around the block, which takes about the same amount of time to complete as smoking one cigarette.

My afternoon fag, which takes place between 2.30 and 4.30 every day (depending on work tasks), is a tricky one too. Should I take the walk again? Or will this lose its appeal because it is repetitive? I have already given up the walk-home smoke, and the two or three in the evening will be replaced with writing my diary. I always used to write a diary, and I hope some day to be able to write a complete novel, so maybe that is one life goal I can achieve as I give up on a near lifetime of habit. A nice thought now while I am optimistic at least!

“The HR manager pops in and hints at a reward scheme for employees who are successful, which for a moment is alluring and exciting.”

The HR manager pops in and hints at a reward scheme for employees who are successful, which for a moment is alluring and exciting, until it is realised that actually that is a very difficult thing to police. So we will see if this materialises.

To round off the sessions the advisors ask if we are all still happy to quit one week from now, and we all say ‘yes’. All that’s left is a reminder of the nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) options and for us to decide which two forms of NRT we would like to try. I’m opting for the patches and an inhalator. The patches are designed to give a steady stream of nicotine throughout the day. I am starting on a low dose as I am not considered to be a heavy smoker. The inhalator is to substitute the cigarette-in-hand because I know I will miss the hand-to-mouth routine.

And then we’re off; prescriptions in hand and T-minus seven days. I am excited, and my colleagues are really supporting me. I have chosen not to tell my family and friends just yet, I want to be able to become a non smoker ‘overnight’ as far as they are concerned. I don’t know why, I guess I just don’t want to questioned about it every time I talk to them on the phone over the coming weeks. I know this is going to be hard enough, and I want to quietly get on with it.

I don’t consider myself to be easily frustrated or stressed at work, but I have a feeling this will all change while I re-adjust to the new smoke-free me because I am already distracted and easily agitated, and I haven’t even given up yet!

See also:
Up in smoke: An employee’s attempt to quit the cigarettes.

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