Dennis Hanagan –
Two Downtown smokers, hooked on the idea of quitting, spoke to The Bulletin about their strategies to snuff out as they join the Canadian Cancer Society’s 9th annual Driven to Quit Challenge.
Jacques of Church-Wellesley Village and Chase from the St. Lawrence Market area asked that their names be altered for the story.
The cancer society’s challenge is designed to motivate smokers to quit for the month of March for the chance to win a car or cash prizes. A urine test will confirm that eligible winners have quit.
Jacques has been a pack-a-day smoker, but he’s narrowing down his daily intake. As part of his strategy he finds not carrying around cash helps; if he’s got money in his pocket he’ll buy cigarettes.
“It sounds crazy,” he says. “Even if I have a dollar I’ll go out and spend it on a cigarello.” There’s another bugaboo he has to overcome—alcohol. Drinking makes him want to smoke. “Alcohol will completely kill it for me,” says Jacques.
The 37-year-old began smoking at age 27. “I’ve been trying to quit for at least four or five years,” he says. “Every time I fail I’ve gotten to the one or 2-week mark about seven or eight times.
“I’m very confident (of quitting this time) because I’ve gotten so close,” says Jacques.
In a press release the Canadian Cancer Society quotes the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit saying it often takes the average smoker 30 tries to successfully quit. “This means that every attempt is important,” the release says.
Research shows smokers who quit for one month are five times more likely to remain smoke-free, says the release.
Jacques believes regulating cigarettes with a doctor’s prescription would help smokers quit. It’s “harm reduction,” he says. “I strongly think it should be regulated like methadone where you should require a prescription to smoke.”
Chase, in middle age, has a 35-year habit to beat. He hopes to do it cold turkey. He’s already quit about a dozen times and the longest he’s gone without a cigarette is four weeks.
He’s used smoking as a way to socialize. “When I was younger I would buy cigarettes to meet people. It was easier for me sociably. I knew everyone smoked and they’d have a cigarette break so I would meet people and fit in with them.”
He’s not a hardcore smoker, inhaling about a pack a week. His strategy is to break the routine in which he finds himself desiring a puff. “I tend to have a cigarette if I’m comfortable in my own home. I’ve been keeping myself quite busy in the evenings so that I don’t go home and have a cigarette.”
He has another little trick up his sleeve—food. “One thing I’ve been doing is eating immediately (once at home) because I find that once I eat I don’t really crave a cigarette.”
Chase feels that quitting will benefit not only his health but also the way he sees himself. “I think (quitting) is about self-esteem, and it’s about accomplishing (a goal). It’s about freedom. It’s going to be a weight off my shoulders,” says Chase.
He wants to put this story on his fridge. “I’ll look at it every day and use it as an affirmation.”
The Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline website is www.smokershelpline.ca.