How I Quit Smoking
(and you can too)
by Stuart Swanson
Maybe you’re aware of the epidemic that is cigarette smoking. Maybe not. Well I’ll summarize it: Millions of people are addicted to a pointless habit of inhaling harmful shit into their bodies, and usually when they start they never stop.
So now you know what smoking is, and how pointless it is, you should know to never start smoking. Good job. Now the rest of this page is for people who have already started.
Still reading? I’m sorry. You’ve got a pretty nasty habit there. Let’s fix that. The best way to do that is to explain how I did it. Here is how I have successfully quit smoking:
The first time I quit smoking was the most difficult. I don’t even remember the details of how or how long, but I’m pretty sure it lasted less than a day. I remember craving a cigarette like no other. The first attempt was a failed attempt.
The second time I quit smoking, I went four days and then I killed someone. Then after that, I smoked a cigarette. Just one. But it led to another one, and then to a pack. That’s the beauty of selling cigarettes by the pack. By the time you’ve smoked 20, you’re hooked. You know what, sometimes I just want ONE cigarette. But guess what, you can’t just buy one you must by 20. Then you’re addicted, and then before you know it, your twenties are gone. You smoked them away and now you’re thirty years old. Way to go, nutjob.
The third time I quit smoking, I went a few days and said “screw this.”
The fourth time I quit smoking, I was determined. I went THIRTY DAYS without smoking. And then at the end of the 30 days, I celebrated my achievement by smoking. I bought a whole pack, because you know, you have to buy a whole pack.
The fifth time I quit smoking,, the sixth time I quit smoking, the 7th, and 8th and 9th and 10th times I quit smoking, I don’t remember but THEY WERE ALL FAILED ATTEMPTS.
I realized I needed to develop a plan to quit smoking. I decided that there must be a mathematical way to quit smoking. I decided to quit for 1 day, and then smoke again, but then quit for two days the next time. Then after that, I smoke again. THen the next time I quit I quit for four days. Then I smoked again. But the NEXT time I quit smoking, when I got to 8 days I kept going, and I went for a whole month. And I wanted to see how long I could go, so I kept going. I went for 68 days. But then on the 69th day, it was Valentine’s Day and I realized I have nobody and I got depressed. So I hopped the cement wall and walked over to the nearest liquor store and bought some cigarettes. It was awesome. I felt like a loser. I rule.
Well, that true story accounts for the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th times that I quit smoking.
The Fifteenth time I quit smoking I knew that I had to DOUBLE the 68. So I waited until I was ready ready to quit. I went 137 days, and at the end of the 137 days I started smoking again.
The Sixteenth time I quit smoking, I went 10 months! And then I started smoking again.
The Seventeenth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Eighteenth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Nineteenth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twentieth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-first time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-second time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-third time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-fourth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-fifth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-sixth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-seventh time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-eighth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Twenty-ninth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirtieth time I quit smoking, I went for four days, then I said “screw this” and I killed someone. Then I started smoking again.
The Thirty-first time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-second time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-third time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-fourth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-fifth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-sixth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-seventh time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-eighth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Thirty-ninth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Fortieth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-first time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-second time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-third time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-fourth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-fifth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-sixth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-seventh time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The Forty-eighth time I quit smoking, I went for a few days and said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
Well, you know what they say, “The Forty-Ninth Time is the charm.” Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But after a few days, I said “screw this” and I started smoking again.
The fiftieth time I quit smoking was awesome.
The fifty-first time I quit smoking, I went for twenty days. Then I started smoking again.
The fifty-second time I quit smoking, I went for a while, and then after a while I started smoking again.
The fifty-third time I quit smoking, I went for almost two months. And then I started smoking again.
My fifty-fourth through eighty-seventh times each lasted about a day or two. Each of those attempts failed miserably. My eighty-eighth time would have worked but my goddamn neighbor kept blowing second-hand smoke into my goddamn apartment.
AND NOW HERE WE ARE. September 30th, 2006. This is my eighty-ninth attempt to quit smoking. It’s going pretty good, I haven’t had a cigarette since 3am last night. But I’m going to do some comedy in a few minutes and will probably have lots of hours of sitting around waiting for something to happen, will probably go out to get a breath of fresh air, and there will probably be people outside smoking. So I like my chances.
I’ll keep you posted.
I know this webpage doesn’t really say “how” I quit smoking. I don’t know. When I “quit” smoking, I don’t put a lit cigarette in my mouth. What’s to explain.
My eighty-ninth time failed miserably. I’ve been smoking since October 1st. But I got sick today October 7th and I’ve been “coughing up a lung.” So I’ve decided to quit smoking again.
And since it’s my 90th attempt, I like my chances.
I’ll keep you posted. These first few days have been a piece of cake.
10/10/2006. Off to a good start…
10/14/2006. STill going, I’ve already gone a week. One thing I forgot to mention is that when you quit smoking, you can’t cheat. Because if you do, you’re only cheating yourself. And if you cheat, then you have to lie about it. And then you become a liar. And I hate liars.
Mark my words, if I smoke, one of the first things I’ll do is update this webpage. And I really don’t want to have to do that, so I’m not gonna smoke. Also I kind of want to create a timer that shows how long I’ve gone without smoking. That way I get daily praise, even if I don’t talk to anyone.
Finally, I leave you with these words:
Update 10/20/2006. I really wanted to smoke a couple days ago, but I didn’t smoke.
Update 10/22/2006 I smoked last night. I got drunk off three beers, some bourbon, and then some more beer. I did a “keg stand” at some college party and broke the record, I got a “44” and everyone thought I was real cool. And I thought to myself, “I’m so cool I’m gonna smoke some cigarettes.”
I’m an idiot.
I smoked this week. I don’t want to smoke anymore. Today I woke up and had my last cigarette. I’m done smoking.
I smoked last night. I went to ocean Beach and bought a pack, and I smoked it all.
I’ve been smoking. It’s really hard to quit.
I quit smoking, never smoking again.
I started smoking again, it’s really hard to quit.
Alright, how about this. I’m never smoking again.
The first 20 minutes are going really well.
I have a really good feeling about this. I think I’m really onto something this time. Well I’m off to a good start. I’ll keep you updated. November 30, 2006.
It is now December and I still haven’t smoked.
i HAVENT SMOKED SINCE NOVEMBER.
Update December 2, 2006
Day 1 went really well… I walked through a pack of smokers and said, “second-hand smoke that’s all I get”… then I went and did comedy where there was a lot of smoking, plus, I’ve kind of gotten used to smoking when I do comedy, but I didn’t smoke. Then later, I went home and threw away my ash tray, the one with a ton of cigarette butts (many of which were smokeable) but I resisted the temptation to partake of that nasty habit… Oh also, last night I finally went to the beach again. And this time I didn’t get booed. But, back to smoking. I had a dream last night that I smoked. That’s not a good sign, but it was just a dream…
I still haven’t smoked since November.
Update December 6 I still haven’t smoked since November.
Updated December 11th and I still haven’t smoked since November. And on a side note I also haven’t drank. Maybe I should quit drinking too? I don’t need it to have fun. I mean I could have gotten free drinks last friday but I didnt feel like drinking…
I think I quit drinking too. Yeah, I quit drinking.
Anyway I haven’t smoked for over 10 DAYS.
WELL, THAT ADVENTURE LASTED 23 DAYS. I started smoking again on December 23rd, and I smoked for about a week. Then I quit on New Year’s Eve, like a lot of people do. Then just like those same people, I started up again the next day. Then I quit on January 6th, because I quit on that day once before, but this time it didn’t work. Anyway I smoked ALL THROUGH JANUARY. But I quit again at the end of January. So I haven’t smoked since January, and it is now February 3rd. IT IS GOING VERY WELL, THIS TIME.
I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE WITH A TELEMARKETER. HERE IS HOW THE CONVERSATION JUST WENT:
“Hi my name is Jessica I’m calling from the Union-Tribune, how are you today?”
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that, well I just wanted to tell you about a great deal we have going on for Saturday and Sunday papers we can offer them for $1.15 a week, which comes to less than $.20 a day…”
“I DON’T READ ANYMORE”
“Oh okay, well thank you for your time and you have a great day!”
I quit smoking on my 30th birthday. March 18, 2007. I don’t smoke anymore.
April 11th (24 days later) I hereby confirm that I still have not smoked. I have really, truly quit smoking.
Well, that lasted almost a month, but then the final round of that dreadful contest at famecast.com became the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced. You might ask me, was it really that stressful? I DONT KNOW, MAYBE. Seven days of voting for a contest that would either cure my financial situation or put the nails in the coffin of my California Adventure… yeah, it was stressful. I smoked more frequently in that week than I’ve ever smoked. For example, the cigarette butts in this picture are ALL from that 7 day period of April 15th-21st. And then I smoked all through May, because the amount I had been smoking made it physically impossible to stop cold turkey. I don’t know what they’re putting in the new cigarettes these days, but they are more physically addictive than ever before. I know because I’ve quit several times and there were never those kind of physical withdrawals. My body went through serious withdrawals in the first part of May when I tried to quit. The same thing happened in the beginning of June.
However, something incredible happened on June 10th, 2007. My girlfriend’s birthday. I told her that I would quit smoking as a birthday present to her. And that’s not something you can take back. Oh, you’re not impressed? Well get ready to be impressed because there’s more. Later in the day, on her birthday, I realized something that will blow your mind, if you believe me and if you are worth a crap, because if you don’t believe in signs like this then you’re going to lead a long, pointless life that has no meaning whatsoever in the end. And you probably smoke cigarettes too. Anyway, it dawned on me that the day I STARTED smoking was June 10th, 1996. I had to check my life story, searched for “smok” and I quickly got to the day where I smoked Marlboro reds on the dock out by Governor Lake. JUNE 10, 1996. I thought about that mathematically, and realized that June 10th 1996 was Julie’s 11th birthday. And June 10th 2007 was her 22nd birthday. And this means that I had smoked for EXACTLY HALF of her entire life. This was a wake up call for me. There are theoretically two lives we can decide to live. (Obviously there are more, but just go with this scenario.)
1) One life is the one where you smoke it away, waste it away, just smoke and do stupid shit like smoke. What a great life. Thanks God that was awesome, now I’ll choke to death.
2) The other life is the kind where you live life to the fullest. We can accomplish nearly anything if we put our minds to it, and actually do it. Optimism is not out of the question, for this type of lifestyle. And purposefully inhaling harmful cancer-causing nicotine has NOTHING to do with this type of life, should you or I chooose it.
Anyway those are the two options.
So, this is it. This is what will stop me from smoking ever again. The fact that I just happened to notice (after I had already made the promise) that I had smoked exactly half of Jules’s life. What a sign. There are more signs but that one is pretty damn significant.
Alright, it’s June 17th right now. I ahven’t smoked for an entire week, give or take a few hours. I’m not only going to quit smoking, but I’m going to inspire others to also quit. Life changes when you quit smoking. I havent explained some of the things that have happened during the times where I have really, *really* quit smoking. But it’s been all good.
It’s June 23rd and I still haven’t smoked, not even a drag. Tomorrow it will have been two weeks.
UPDATE OCTOBER 8TH, 2007:
I STILL HAVEN’T SMOKED, NOT EVEN A DRAG. I HAVEN’T SMOKED FOR 120 DAYS AND COUNTING…
Well I went 155 days without smoking, and then I started smoking again.
Who quits smoking for 155 days and then starts smoking again? Who do you think? The idiot asking the question.
I just smoked for four hundred and three days straight, and I liked it. And then I realized, “that’s stupid” and so today, December 19th, 2008 I decided to quit smoking again. I’ll decide pretty soon when I’m ready to quit smoking.
After 246 days of thinking about quitting smoking, I watched a video of MXC and it made me laugh so hard that I started coughing uncontrollably. That night, I realized it was time to finally quit smoking. The next day, I woke up and coughed up blood, which confirmed that it was time to quit smoking. After going over 24 hours without a smoke, I decided to have one last smoke, and then quit. I had my last drag of a cigarette on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 at 10:20pm California time.
Even though I coughed up blood, I smoked for six more days, but only because I really, really wanted to. I finally did end up quitting, on August 28th, 2009 a couple minutes before midnight.
Update: After 7 full days, I haven’t smoked, not even a drag. I feel pretty good about it this time. I think I finally kicked the habit. The longest I’ve ever gone before is 10 months, but I’m on my way…
I went 3 weeks without smoking, then went to a casino and breathed in about a half a pack of second-hand smoke, which gave me the right to have an actual smoke, and then I smoked for the rest of 2009, because hey, why not.
I promised myself a long, long time ago that I wouldn’t smoke in 2010 or after, because if I did, I would probably smoke for the rest of my life. So I smoked all the way up to the psychological cutoff of a new decade.
I had my last smoke just before midnight on December 31st, 2009.
For the first 6 days of January 2010, I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I was sneezy, snotty, wheezing and coughing up all kinds of crap. Nasty. But I had to go through it, because it would have only gotten worse if I kept smoking. I couldn’t fall asleep because all I could hear was the wheezies. I wish I would have recorded it because it sounded like a satanic ritual was going on inside my lungs. It actually scared my cats.
For all you scrollers who weren’t patient enough to see how I got to this point,
The WHEEZING was SCARING MY CATS at night.
and it was making it impossible to sleep.
Update February 20, 2010:
I’m going to see a doctor on March 1st because after 2 months I’m still wheezing. It’s not nearly as bad as it was in early January, but I feel that I shouldn’t has to wheez anymore. I will update again later, but here is a statement I can make:
Update I’ve gone over 90 days without a smoke. Suck it.
I’ve wanted to a few times but still have not had a smoke.
Still no smoking, over 7 months now………
You have got to be kidding me.
I SMOKED again after that? What? WHY???
After that I smoked for almost 2 years.
Then on July 7th, 2012, right around 11:59pm or so I was on my balcony and just started smoking a cigarette, when all of a sudden I got this sort of out-of-nowhere excruciating pain to my abdomen, and after just a few drags I came back inside and couldn’t even walk. As soon as I made it inside I fell to my knees and had to start crawling, I actually couldn’t walk. I said to Julie, “I don’t feel so good” and the rest of that night is an uncomfortable blur. That night, I actually thought I was going to die. The next 8 hours, I tried to sleep, but kept having to go to the bathroom with no shitty results. Sorry for the details but you’re interested (at this point for sure.) I could have called 911 but I’m such a cheapskate that I’d apparently rather die than pay for 911. I’m not just being dramatic here you know, in case you’re wondering. Googling “Urgent Care hours of operation” was a CHORE.
IN the middle of the night, the only thing that made me feel any better was taking a bath. It was a relief. I think I took a bath for over an hour to be honest. But as soon as it was over, I was back to square one. No pun intended as I now seem to remember that cigarettes are sometimes referred to as “squares.” Anyway, after surviving the night of the living dead, 8:00am rolled around, and then by about 9:00am I finally rolled around enough to drive myself to Urgent Care. Long story short, I wasn’t even insured through them, so I might as well have just gone straight the ER in the first place. Like I said, long story short…
When I got to the ER, George Clooney wasn’t even there and I was already pissed. But the pain made it possible to get over that and be completely honest in this next honest explanation of what happened next. I manly-ly told them (with tears running down my face that I had nothing to do with) in deadpan, Steven Wright style: “Yes hello hi good morning. I’m in excruciating pain, and need to see a doctor right away because it feels like I’m going to die.”
They got right on that.
Ninety minutes later, they upgraded me from “waiting room” to “drunk and on drugs.” It hurt so good.
3 hours later, they had the cat scan thing and other things going on.
By 7:15pm I was in surgery, having my appendix taken out. That was it, they figured it out. A “stomach” issue that had occasionally plagued me for the past 8 years, solved.
But what happened just before that — and the CRUX of this story — was much more important.
Just before I went under anesthesia, I was explaining my life story to 3 surgeons (or anesthesiologists, who knows), and for some reason the topic of smoking cigarettes came up. And as I was expressing my adoration of them (the doctors), I promised them all — on the lives of my beloved cats — that I would never smoke a cigarette again for as long as I lived.
And 17 months later I can honestly say that I’ve lived up to my own challenge/promise, and will continue to do so.
I mean, I’m half expecting myself to have to update this page and say something like “MOTHER %#%!%#R I smoked again” but you know what, this time… this time, I got this. I’m never smoking again.
Is how I quit smoking.
(and you can too.)
Update: In a couple weeks, it will be 2 years since I’ve had a cigarette. Not even a drag.
January 15, 2015…
Still no smoking. Not even a drag.
I haven’t smoked for over 2 and a half years.
In fact if I ever smoke again, I’ll “tweet” that I’m a loser who started smoking again after EVERYTHING I HAVE ALREADY BEEN THROUGH.
Also feel free to send me a message there in case you have something you want to say to me. Or you can just leave a comment on this new website, since after just 15 years I finally upgraded to wordpress and added comments to my website like a normal person.
Update: January 17th, 2016
THREE AND A HALF YEARS NOW and still going, no smoking, no problem. I still have not had a cigarette (including those new “e-cigarettes”), not even a drag, since July 8, 2012. That’s more than 3 and a half years.
If you were to ask me how I’m doing, here’s how I would respond:
“I feel physically awesome compared to when I smoked. I can breathe all night long and sleep a full night without my past breathing. I’m told I don’t snore very often anymore. I never have the desire to have a cigarette. Ever. That went away a long time ago and I don’t think it will ever return. It feels good to breathe — in fact, when I sigh now it’s more like a sigh of relief, and it actually feels good. So, I feel pretty good.”
(I’m pretty sure that’s how I would respond. I’m not 100% on that but that’s a pretty good guess.)
And I’ve been through a lot during the past few years, lots of stressful times that would make a smoker consider a smoke-death-a-thon (which is a thing where you purchase a “lifetime” worth of cigarettes, then find a comfortable place and smoke non-stop until you just, die. Yes that’s a thing now, because I just made it up — that’s how things get started.) But even through all of the bullshit that I’ve been through in the past 3 years, I still never smoked, and that was a really big test. You could call it a stress test, and you could say that I’ve passed it for at least 3 years.
And finally, if anyone is thinking “yeah, well, if you promised on your cats’ lives, well you’ll probably just start smoking again if you end up outliving them.” Well, sadly I already know how I would react if something like that happened. In August 2015, the unthinkable happened with the unexpected passing of Einstein. He was actually who I had in my mind when I made that promise to those anesthesiologists. He was a very, very special cat, in fact if you want to know about his life, you can hear his life story by listening to Episode 20 of Sidetrack City here:
Sidetrack City, Episode 20: Einstein’s Life
His passing was (and still is, months later) the worst thing I’ve ever had to deal with, but in his honor I have continued to not smoke since promising on his life (and the lives of Cookie, Holmes and Scrooge.) So, you don’t have to keep checking after this to see if I smoked again, because I won’t.
So, that’s how I quit smoking. You can quit too. It’s not easy, but it can be done, and it’s totally worth it.
Update: IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS, AS OF JULY 8, 2017 IT WILL HAVE BEEN FIVE YEARS. FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SLEEP A FULL NIGHT WITHOUT WAKING UP EVEN ONCE. MY LUNGS FEEL AWESOME AND I AM NEVER SMOKING AGAIN BASED ON THAT ALONE.