How to live now

If patches, hypnosis, and self-help books don’t work, maybe it’s time to think from the sidelines. Readers explain the impossible ways to encourage them to give up the habit

Monday 14 June 2021 12.18 BST

‘Get a glass of water when you want’

I smoked 10-20 cigarettes a day, but finally quit smoking 11 years ago. I found myself getting a glass of water when the requests worked very well. When I went to the kitchen and poured it, I usually had the peak of enthusiasm. It also helped me understand that you can get rid of desire. The first three weeks were the most difficult. Michael, artist and educator, Scotland

“I would feed myself – less than a cigarette every day”

I chose to reduce it gradually. I fed myself – a little cigarette every day. I would choose the time when I knew I would enjoy smoking the least. I smoked 40 cigarettes a day, but for six weeks I smoked once a day, and then every day. I allowed myself to stay at this point for a while. When I forgot when I smoked my last cigarette, I knew I had given up. That was 40 years ago. Anonymous, London

‘Take a shower’

When I started when I was 15, I had 40 habits. Here are my tips for quitting. 1) Recognize the triggers that make you want to smoke and know that they will pass in two minutes. (One of my biggest triggers was to open the car window because I was opening it to blow away the ashes.) 2) If you’re really closing your mouth for smoking, take a shower – there won’t be any triggers, because that’s not possible. smoking in the shower. 3) Relaxing massages help. On my first attempt, at age 46, I was able to quit smoking. Andrew, graphic designer, Peak District

‘When I quit my job for a year, my husband promised me a bottle of Romanée-Conti’

Good things … Romanée-Conti burgundy. Photo: Ian Shaw / Alamy

I have long wanted to taste the unique and legendary burgundy Romanée-Conti. In 1991, my husband said that if I smoked for a year, he would buy me a bottle. If I felt weak, Romanée-Conti’s words would encourage me. Six months later, I found a bottle at Charles de Gaulle Airport. At that time, it was as much as I spent on smoking for a year. My husband said that if I smoked now, he would drink in front of me and then run away! At the end of the year we drank it – and it was incredible. For the next few years, we ate at a three-star Michelin restaurant with the money I would spend on cigarettes. Find what you want more than smoking – I’ve never smoked again. Lynne, retired engineer, Folkestone

‘I soaked my cigarette in water and soap’

Quit your cigarette or tobacco properly: I soaked myself in water and soap. If you still throw your cigarettes in the trash in the package, you will never fish them again. During the first two weeks, I wrote on my hand the number of days after my last cigarette, which was a really useful visual reminder of my progress. Anonymous, Surrey

’40 king-size chained’

One morning in 1981, I was on my way to work when there were smoking sections on the trains, but I could not get into one. Anyway, I found out there was no smoking – so I died for smoking at the end of the trip. I was really disgusted by how important this was to me and how addicted I was to smoking. So I immediately bought 40 royal cigarettes and chained them until noon as an aversion therapy attempt. It worked. I have never smoked since. Anonymous, London

“I was surprisingly pleased to catch the clothesline”

‘Each half is about the size and weight of a cigarette.’ Photo: Getty Images / EyeEm

I had been a roll-up smoker for over 20 years and quit smoking about a year ago. I always thought that it was more of a ritual, that I would return to smoking even after overcoming my chemical addiction. I’ve seen wooden clothes pegs help: you can buy a pack from a pound store, and each half nail is about the size and weight of a cigarette. When I felt the need to smoke, I would just grab one; was surprisingly satisfactory. You can also chew them and stick them under your thumb, which was very helpful. I usually kept a few in my pocket. Anonymous, London

‘Paste your tobacco container’

Wrap a pack of cigarettes or a pack of tobacco in many layers. This makes it very difficult to reach tobacco, but not impossible. I found this to be the best way to manage the “panic” caused by not being able to smoke, and it allows you to “postpone” smoking indefinitely. I quit my job more than 10 years ago, but there is still a tin pasted from dusty Old Holborn. James, psychologist, Scotland

“Brushing my teeth after every meal stopped my appetite”

Brush these wishes. Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto

I always had passions until I realized that brushing my teeth after every meal and rinsing my mouth immediately took them away. I wouldn’t smoke at all after brushing my teeth at night, so it was something that really helped after a meal. A more obvious piece of advice is training that helps me a lot. Javier, researcher, Swansea

‘Put the fig money aside, then treat yourself’

Pour the ashtray into the jar, add water, then close the jar. Whenever you want, open the container and take a deep breath. This should make you jam or retch. It’s awful, but it gives flavor. Also, put your money aside every day or week and when you have collected enough, please yourself and your loved ones with a nice meal or a day trip. Anonymous, Devon

‘Move to a cup and saucer’

Practice with your hands. Photo: Julie Anne Images / Getty Images

Make a list of things you have postponed. Choose one of the jobs whenever you want. The desire will not last and the work will be distracting. In addition, you will be happy to do all the work that you have postponed. If you usually smoke while drinking a cup, a cup and a saucer will also help, as both hands will be busy. Melli, Suffolk

‘Create a record you don’t want to break’

I quit smoking on July 19, 2005. Write down the date you gave up and use it to create important milestones, such as: “I gave up a week / a month / six months / a year / five years ago.” It is very important to see how far you have come and celebrate your success. It also helps you create a record you don’t want to spoil. David, retired, Herefordshire

“I decided that the best way to relax was to get new teeth”

Look at your teeth. I smoked for 40 years and decided that the best way to quit was to get new teeth. So I invested £ 3,500 (more expensive in Budapest, UK) to replace my smoke-suffering teeth with 26 crowns. I haven’t smoked in four years and my teeth look amazing. Pit, hospitality worker, Leith

“I started painting the pebbles”

‘Proven to be very therapeutic.’ Photo: Savo Ilic / Alamy

After decades of unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day, I began painting the gravel. The idea was that if I had a paintbrush, I wouldn’t be able to smoke. It has proven to be phenomenally successful and very therapeutic. It took me about three days to lose my passion for nicotine, and I haven’t smoked for more than three years. I often treat myself with the money I save because I don’t smoke – and my painting hobby has also changed to painting on canvas. Elaine, retired, Greece

‘Make a deal with a friend to leave together’

Make sure you don’t have forgotten packages in your home or car, and think about what you can do or enjoy when you leave work. For me, it was to climb the Jacob’s Ladder in Derbyshire without stopping for a breath every 10 steps. Then, sign a contract to go out with a friend and set a date that is not discussed. Also, use a program that counts your non-smoked cigarettes and calculates your savings. Anonymous, Germany