It all started at the local book store where I wanted to buy The Hunger Games trilogy (don’t judge). Right there in front of me in big bold red lettering was this little $20 book called The Easyway to Stop Smoking written by Allen Carr who’s some British accountant dude. Of course, I grabbed the “Canadian Edition” to get my fill of ‘eh’ and ‘no doot a boot it’ but there wasn’t any.

As I stood in line to purchase the books, I doubted the effectiveness of this stop smoking book. Seriously, how are words printed on a page, written by an accountant, a freaking accountant, going get me to stop smoking? Yeah this guy is totally qualified… to do taxes, if I were in Britain!

I opened it to some random page. I don’t remember the page number but it wasn’t the beginning. If I had to guess, I think it was Chapter 2. Right there printed on some random page the line read,

“…it is essential to keep smoking until you have finished the book completely.” – Allen Carr, The Easyway to Stop Smoking (emphasis is mine)

My ominous life hath spoken. This sounded like the perfect book for me, because I wasn’t ready to quit smoking right that very instant.

Besides, $20 was nothing compared to the alternatives. If it didn’t work, I could return the book. If it worked, then that would have been the best $20 I had ever spent.

A Bit of Backstory:

I smoked one to two packs a day for 20 years. My father was a smoker. The guys I hung out with were all smokers. Even the girls I dated were smokers. I’m also asthmatic and I am prone to bronchitis and bacterial chest infections. It seemed like every three months I’d be on a round of antibiotics to clear my infections and give me runny stools. TMI, I know, sorry.

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” – Mark Twain

It sure did feel that way. I’ve must have attempted quitting (sounds as though quitting is like committing a crime) at least a half-dozen times, using all sorts of techniques and gimmicks and tricks, from nicotine gum, patches, prescription medication, candy, and cold-turkey. Nothing worked. I’d “quit” for nine months tops and I’d be back at it again.

I spent a small fortune trying to quit. Three months of patches was $300 at the time and very irritating to the skin. As a matter of fact, the patches left painful boils and blisters, and I was having a difficult I me finding appropriate real estate on my body. 

The prescription medication for quitting smoking were awful. I had terrible side effects to them, so much so my doctor pulled me off them because the side effects outweighed the benefits.

My doctor said quitting is more expensive than continuing to smoke. When I was smoking even half a pack a day, he said it was cheaper to gradually reduce my smoking and then quit than to go on meds or the patches. Basically, he told me to keep smoking.

19 years of smoking later, I slipped into a major depression with severe PTSD. By this time I was receiving treatment, got myself a Boxer dog, quit drinking alcohol, and started running again, but I continued to smoke.

When I fall into a major depressed state, I don’t feel anything. Smoking is the only thing that I can feel as it enters my body and is exhaled out. It’s messed up. But smoking while I’m depressed reminds me I’m still alive by killing myself. Sounds morbid and crazy, I know.

Ironically, my personal best 5km run was 16 minutes and that was when I was still smoking. Truth be told, I had a smoke just before starting the race. I don’t know if this irony, but the event was for cancer research. And then I got injured shortly after, but that’s for a different story.

“The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” – Albert Einstein

I wanted to be sure I never relapsed into depression. To reduce the possibility, I turned to Einstein and looked at all the bad things I was doing and listed out their opposites. I began doing the opposite little by little, one thing at a time. Just to provide you with an idea:

  • I stopped drinking alcohol and started drinking more water.
  • I stopped eating fast food and started to pay close attention to what I put in my body.
  • I stopped drinking Coke and started to drink more real fruit juice.
  • I stopped watching a ton of TV and started walking everyday.
  • I stopped playing endless hours of video games and started playing the guitar and drums.

After quitting drinking for a whole year, it was time for me to give up on smoking. I would stop smoking and start swimming. None of the other quit smoking things worked, or rather, worked long term. The longest I remained off cigarettes was nine months. My asthma was getting worse and I was getting more infections throughout the year, so I had to stop.

Back to the book shop.

The cashier was ringing up my books and when she took a look at The Easyway to Stop Smoking she looked up at me and said, “If you can keep a very open mind you will love this book and it’ll get you to stop. I read it and I stopped. Been a few years now. All because of this book.”

You’d had thought she was getting paid to market the book. We all know how effective word of mouth and real live testimony can be. I was hopeful. “What about The Hunger Games?”

“Oh, they’re ok.”

Here is what I consider to be essential to have before diving into the book:

  • You definitely need to be open minded (really, really open. Like joining a cult open! You’re brainwashing the brainwashing from previous brainwashes)
  • You need to read the book completely before you stop smoking (you can enjoy your smokes as much as you like while reading)
  • You need to do as Allen Carr asks you to do (it’s called The Easyway for a good reason, so nothing you have to do is hard)
  • You need to trust in the process and be ready to face fear (Allen Carr does a great job in guiding you to see your fear for what it really is. Again, it’s easy)

For me, I read half the book and didn’t pick it up again for three months.

Facing Fear:

I admit, I was scared. I didn’t want to fail. Worse, I didn’t want the book to fail. However, my health was getting worse. So, I picked up the book and read it from front to back. I remember that I had to force myself to do so. I think on a subconscious level my mind was fighting against my quitting, or what Allen Carr referred to as the Nicotine Monster, or something like that.

The second read through was much easier and I did the very simple exercises. Then I took a short break to prepare myself for the eventual stop date.

Late One Night…

One late evening, I started to read the book again and I decided to go for my bedtime smoke. There was this one really simple exercise that is early in the book I read about. I went outside, lit my smoke, and performed that exercise and that was when I had my last cigarette. Actually, I still had half a smoke left when I butted it out and ran inside straight for the kitchen sink to try and wash out my mouth.

Mind you, this wasn’t my quit date. I still had a full pack left, but that single exercise made me feel sick that it ruined smoking for me. I just stopped. I don’t even remember the date because I thought I’d finish what was left in my pack and the last cigarette in the pack would mark that date. Nope. Not so!

The next morning I brewed my coffee and went outside to have my ritual coffee and smoke. I lit the cigarette and butted the damn thing out after the first drag. I couldn’t even get passed the first puff. That single exercise from the previous night got me to stop.

I spent nearly $1000 on quit smoking products over the 20 years I smoked when all I needed was a $20 book.

That book has long been handed down to others. I figure I got all the lessons I could from it, so why not help someone out? The worst that can happen is they continue to smoke but have gained knowledge. The best that could happen is they stop smoking and join the growing number of people who stopped smoking. In both cases, the book can be handed down even further. That’s a lot of people that one $20 book can help.

For the price of two packs of smokes, this book may very well save your life or the life of someone you care and love. Yeah, yeah. Cheesy, I know! Get the book! You’re allowed to keep smoking while reading it! You’re allowed to feel fear. I did. It took me months to read it completely my first time. Get it!