Straight Talk Advice

Jun 22, 2005

Butt out of smoker’s plan to quit

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 18 and I’ve been smoking cigarettes since I was 16. My boyfriend didn’t mind my smoking habit at first, but now he hates it and is constantly badgering me to quit. I’d like to quit, too, but the more he pushes, the more determined I am to keep smoking. Is something wrong with me? Why can’t I just do what’s good for me and quit?—Blowing smoke


Dear Blowing smoke: You sound normal to me: you’ve got a nicotine addiction spiked with that splendid ingredient that likes to resist the practical advice of others. The greater the pressure, the greater the resistance. Being told what to do makes you feel like a child, so you respond like a child, stomping your foot and saying ‘no’, knowing that if you do the obviously brilliant thing they advise, they’ll run around taking credit, saying it was their idea. It just doesn’t work for some of us “independent” types.


The good news is you can quit—and save face at the same time. Underneath the resistance, you sound quite motivated. Start by kindly telling your boyfriend to butt-out. No pun intended. Threaten to take up cigars if he doesn’t. Then firmly outline your plan of attack. Tell him you’re going to quit your way.


The strategies I recommend are good old-fashioned will power (this remains the #1 best-seller) or hypnotherapy (highly effective for the motivated individual, with no withdrawal symptoms—but costs about $200). I hesitate to steer you toward nicotine gums and patches because they cater to the half-hearted quitter. At your age, withdrawal symptoms aren’t going to be that rough. It’s all about resolve and will. Just do it. And take every ounce of credit for succeeding.


P.S. If you have difficulties with your boyfriend, make a deal with him: for the next two months, if he so much as rolls his eyes, he has to buy you dinner—in the smoking section, no? That should motivate him.

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