Quitting smoking

I quit smoking four days ago.  I am (was?) a very keen smoker, but after ten happy years of inhaling burnt tobacco I felt that the risk of cancer was starting to outweigh the pleasure of smoking.

Well, I said I quit, but I need to qualify that. I have not decided to quit for ever; I have only decided to quit for three weeks, and I will then evaluate whether I want to continue abstaining from smoking. This helps for two reasons:

  1. Quitting for three weeks is easier than quitting for ever. The former is a project I was willing to undertake; the latter sounded (and still sounds) too daunting to attempt.
  2. My nicotine addiction has already subsided somewhat, and will have subsided a lot more by the end of week three. So when at the end of week three I pose the question of what I want to do next, I'm more likely to opt for the 'quit' than the 'restart' option compared to making that decision at the height of my addiction.
A second, related, trick is this. I've promised myself that I will allow me to have one more cigarette, and one more cigarette only. Well, I've been feeling like having a cigarette about every 20 seconds, but given that I really want to enjoy and savour my one cigarette I keep postponing it for tomorrow. You can think of it as an inverse application of the Akerlof procrastrination observation. I realised this could work when last week I realised it's actually been six months in which I've had a bottle of expensive champagne in my fridge, always meaning to drink it tomorrow. Well, I'll hopefully be popping that cork to celebrate six months as a non-smoker.

Trick number three, I've started telling people - I find it hard, and painful, to break commitments and go back on my word, and even though I'm not really making any explicit commitments or promising anything to anyone, announcing that I'm undertaking this project creates expectations and I do not want to disappoint. Trick number four, I'm buying myself an iPad for Christmas, but if and only if I am still a non-smoker in two months' time.

The self-deception is, of course, crystal clear. But so far it's working.

by datacharmer | Friday, October 15, 2010
  | | Quitting smoking @bluematterblogtwitter


  1. Forrest Says:

    Good for you, we all stand to gain from the benefit of you probably living a bit longer.

    I'd be interested to know - how has the change in your nicotine intake affected your caffeine intake?

  2. datacharmer Says:

    Caffeine intake is definitely up, and I think that I'm also getting more bang for the buck.. overall, energy levels are soaring!

  3. Evilpuff Says:

    One month on... how did your non-smoking experiment go?

  4. datacharmer Says:

    So far so good!