For Smokeout, ex-puffers give tips on slaying the nicotine dragon

November 15, 1990|By Jean Marbella

You don't have to have quadruplets or a triple bypass or the fear of God put in you.

But it sure can help -- if you're trying to quit smoking, that is. That's what some of the 144 respondents to our Sundial poll told us when, in honor of today's Great American Smokeout, we asked them for tips on how to lose those smokes.

"I gave up smoking in October 1988, and I don't recommend this way for everyone," said John Elwood, 44, of Catonsville. "But when my wife and I had quadruplet babies -- three girls and a boy -- we both wanted to raise our children in a safe, smoke-free environment."

We got lots of medical horror stories -- heart attacks, bypass surgery, thrombosis, emphysema -- that motivated some smokers to quit, but also many less drastic measures to try. And many were contradictory: Do it cold turkey or gradually wean yourself off. Tell everyone; tell no one. Do it for yourself; do it for someone else.

Which just goes to show -- there are so many ways, there has to be one way that will work for you. So let those who have been down this nerve-jangling road before help you out. (We named those tipsters who we were able to reach yesterday.)

* Do something else with your mouth:

"I decided to whistle every time I wanted a cigarette,and I don't whistle very well, so I'd have to concentrate so hard that I'd forget I wanted a cigarette. So you could say by whistling while I worked, I quit smoking."

* Or your arms:

"Every time I got the impulse to smoke a cigarette, I'd do 10 push-ups, and it worked. Fifteen years later, I haven't smoked again." Ken McKinney, 38, of Timonium.

* Think how much fun they'll have without you:

"I was very motivated when my husband made a lot of money, and I thought, 'Oh, the second wife is going to get to spend it

all.' "

* Gross yourself out:

"I took all my cigarette butts, put them in a jar and filled it with water. Every morning, I would smell it, and it smelled so bad, I wouldn't want one."

* Make a date:

"I set a target date for myself, but I didn't tell anybody about it. Whatever cigarettes were around, I simply flushed down the toilet, and that was that."

* Leave it up in the air:

"I never set a definite date, then on the morning of September 17, 1988, I was smoking a cigarette and I said that would be my last one ever. When you're ready, just do it on an impromptu basis like snapping your fingers. And never look back."

* Try religion:

"I used one of those pretzels for [teething] babies, that you put in the freezer and they can chew on. And I also would say a very short prayer to St. Jude, who is the patron saint of the impossible." Mary Lucia Strott, 56, of Annapolis.

* Try money:

"I just bet so much money with all the people I knew that I could quit, it would have been prohibitively expensive to keep DTC smoking," Roy Loya, 37, of Monkton.

* Get a friend to help:

"I had a friend go through my house, throw away all the cigarettesand stay with me. She stayed almost a week, and between the two of us we both ended up quitting."

* Take charge:

"You hold the cigarette up and look in the mirror and ask, 'Who's smarter, the cigarette or me?' "

* Turn it over to someone else:

"I did it by giving up to a power higher than myself. And the wonderful sharing that goes on in my group, that has something to do with the success we've had." A Nicotine Anonymous member.

* Have a child:

"Eight months ago, my partner had our first child. I'm 45, and I decided I'd like to live to see this child grow up. I'd tried to quit for 20 years and was unsuccessful, but I quit two weeks after she was born." Mel Packer, of Baltimore.

* Have a grandchild:

"I quit smoking after my first granddaughter was born, and I picked her up and she smelled like cigarettes. I vowed she'd never smell that way because of me."

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