What Makes Smoking Hard to Quit?

It is difficult to quit smoking without a solid plan. We spoke to a 32-year-old corporate employee who quit smoking with the help of a step-by-step plan.

By URLife Team
31 May 2024

Everybody who smokes has a concrete reason to quit smoking—the severe damage it inflicts on their health. Have you ever wondered why even the most disturbing images on cigarette packets fail to deter smokers from smoking? 

UR.Life approached individuals to understand what makes it so hard to quit smoking. One said that for them the two minutes spent smoking provides a brief escape from everything that's going on, offering a momentary break from the stress and chaos. “It calms my nerves and I feel somewhat relieved after smoking.” Others mentioned that smoking helps manage nervousness and tension.  The ritual of lighting up their anxious minds. Others mentioned that their bodies have become dependent on the nicotine hit, accompanied by intense cravings and withdrawals.

Someone also mentioned that smoking is integral to their night routine. Without a cigarette before bed, they struggle with restlessness and insomnia. Many individuals mentioned that they are unable to poop without smoking

Naman Awasthi, a 32-year-old from Delhi working in a corporate job, turned to smoking as a means to cope with stress. The pressures of his career led him to rely on cigarettes as a brief escape from the chaos and tension of his daily life. 

We interviewed Naman to know about his journey to quitting smoking. He shared how he quit smoking last year and has now been smoke-free for eight months and serves as an inspiration to many. Read on to learn about his struggles and what motivated him to make this life-changing decision. If he can do it, so can you.


Related story: How To Quit Smoking


UR.Life: Tell us about your journey of quitting smoking. What was the hardest point for you?

Naman: The hardest point was the initial decision to quit. I had been smoking for 5 years now, and the thought of giving it up seemed daunting.


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UR.Life:  What gave you the motivation to quit smoking?

One significant factor was when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was devastating. blow, and it really shook me to the core. It was a wake-up call. Witnessing my mother's battle with cancer made me acutely aware of the potential consequences of smoking, and I knew I needed to quit before it was too late. Seeing someone I love suffer because of a disease linked to smoking hit me hard and made me confront the reality of my own habits. Off lately, 

I had noticed my breathing was getting worse, and I was constantly coughing. This scared me. I knew it was time to make a  into realising that I needed to make a change for the sake of my well-being.

I realised that I never wanted my wife and daughter to struggle because of my smoking. The thought of putting them through the pain and worry of watching me potentially face a similar fate was unbearable. I wanted to be a better role model for my daughter. and ensure I want to be as around to support and cherish my family for many years to come. This realisation gave me the strength and determination to quit smoking for good.


UR.Life:  Did you quit smoking all at once, or did you start by reducing the number of cigarettes?

I initially tried to reduce the number of cigarettes I smoked, thinking it would be easier totaper off. However, I found that this approach didn't work well for me. I would often end up rationalising smoking more when I encountered stressful situations or cravings.

Eventually, I realised that quitting cold turkey was the most effective method for me. I set a quit date and mentally prepared myself for the challenges ahead. Despite the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, I found that the clarity and simplicity of just quitting outright helped me stay focused on my goal.


UR.Life: What difficulties did you face during the quitting process?

The cravings were intense, especially during stressful situations or social gatherings where others were smoking. I also experienced withdrawal symptoms like irritability and difficulty concentrating.

Alongside intense cravings, I experienced physical symptoms like shaking hands, sweating, and headaches whenever I went without a cigarette for too long. These withdrawal symptoms were uncomfortable and sometimes even debilitating, making it hard to focus on anything else.


UR.Life:  Did you face any emotional challenges during this process?

Absolutely. Quitting smoking can stir up a range of emotions, from anxiety and frustration to guilt and even depression. I found it helpful to acknowledge these feelings rather than suppress them, and I sought support from loved ones and counselling services to navigate the emotional ups and downs.


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UR.Life:  How did you overcome these difficulties?

I developed a support system consisting of friends, family, and online forums where I could share my struggles and receive encouragement. I also utilised nicotine replacement therapy and found healthy distractions to manage cravings. 
Initially, it was tough. I tried deep breathing exercises and kept myself busy with activities to distract myself from physical discomfort. Additionally, I consulted with a healthcare professional who provided guidance on managing withdrawal symptoms and recommended strategies like gradual reduction of nicotine intake through patches or chewing gums.


UR.Life:  How do you feel now that you've successfully quit smoking?

It's been incredibly rewarding. Not only do I feel physically healthier and more energetic, but I also have a sense of accomplishment and freedom knowing that I've broken free from the addiction. Quitting smoking has positively impacted every aspect of my life, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to live smoke-free.


Related story: How To Cut Back And Quit Smoking


An Ex-Smoker’s Diary

UR.Life: Can you please take us through your 3-month journey of quitting smoking?


Month 1

Day 1:
I woke up with determination, ready to take on the challenge of quitting smoking. The first few hours were surprisingly manageable, but by midday, the cravings started hitting hard. My hands felt restless, and I found myself reaching for a cigarette out of habit. I resisted by chewing gum and taking deep breaths. The evening was the toughest, as I usually smoked after dinner. I distracted myself with a long walk and a hot shower before bed.

Day 7:
The first week was a rollercoaster. The physical cravings were intense, especially in the morning with my coffee and during breaks at work. I kept myself busy by drinking water and snacking on fruits. I noticed I was getting irritable and found it hard to concentrate. To cope, I joined an online support group where I could vent and share my struggles.

Day 14:
Two weeks in, the cravings started to become more mental than physical. I missed the routine and the comfort of smoking. There were moments when I almost gave in, especially when I was stressed at work. I resisted by calling my daughter who was my inspiration to take this challenge. Talking to her helped me get through the urge without lighting up.


Month 2

Day 30:
A month smoke-free! The physical cravings had mostly subsided, but the psychological habit lingered. I realised I needed new routines. I started going for a jog every morning and found it helped clear my mind and reduce stress. Evenings were still challenging, but I began reading more and discovered a love for mystery novels, which kept my mind engaged.

Day 45:
I hit a rough patch around this time. Stress at work was piling up, and I had a strong urge to smoke. The thought of "just one" crept into my mind frequently. To combat this, I revisited my reasons for quitting and wrote them down. Reading them reminded me of my commitment to a healthier life. I also started practising mindfulness and meditation, which helped me stay calm.

Day 60:
Two months in, I felt a significant change. My senses of taste and smell had improved, and I had more energy. The cravings were now rare but still triggered by certain situations, like being around smokers or after a stressful day. I stayed strong by using breathing exercises and keeping a stress ball handy. Knowing I had come this far motivated me to keep going.


Month 3
Day 75:
I was gaining confidence. Social situations were easier to handle, and I felt proud of my progress. I started focusing on improving other aspects of my health, like eating better and getting regular exercise. There were still moments of temptation, but they were less frequent and easier to manage. I found that keeping a journal of my journey helped me reflect on how far I’d come.

Day 90:
Three months smoke-free! This milestone felt incredible. The urges had diminished significantly, and I felt more in control of my life. I rewarded myself with a weekend getaway to celebrate this achievement. Although I occasionally thought about smoking, the desire was fleeting. I continued to rely on my support network and the healthy habits I had developed.


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If you are struggling to quit smoking, participate in our smoking cessation program today itself.


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