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Success story: Juan challenged herself to give up and now she's a non-smoker

Posted by Laura: October 2012  

JuanJuan – short for Juanita – smoked for nearly 20 years. She started smoking when she was a teenager. "I remember my first cigarette. I was 15. I had it with someone from work who was a couple of years older. I thought she was pretty cool and she smoked."

Over the years Juan smoked varying amounts. "It fluctuated. In the beginning I was sneaking around trying to keep it a secret from my parents, so I'd only smoke occasionally with friends.

But as an adult I smoked around 15 or so a day and possibly more when out. It was a social thing and there were definitely triggers, like having a drink or being with friends that smoke."

Juan had tried to quit smoking before. "I remember I read an article on hypnotherapy and quitting. I though that was nuts so I stopped smoking, probably to prove something to myself. It lasted three months.

I quit smoking for 4–5 months when I was in India too. But started up again when I moved back to Holland; at that time everybody there smoked."

Most recently Juan gave up for a month or so last year. "I was on a six-day walking trip. A group of us were doing the Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair overland track in Tasmania.

I'd cut down on smoking before going away as a result of the training. And when I was walking the last thing I felt like was a cigarette.

It was a few weeks after I got back that I was going to the Golden Plains music festival and I started up again. It was a bad decision. I think I was scared about not allowing myself to smoke at a festival."

The next time Juan decided to give up she knew she could do it. "I wasn't worried about giving up. I had decided I wanted to be a non-smoker and that was that. I didn't like the idea that there was something that could control me.

I was inspired by a talk with a friend. It really hit home, and made me think about why I smoked and why I hadn't given up."

Juan gave up and hasn't touched another cigarette. She's now 10 months smoke-free and says there is no turning back. "I was totally ready to be a non-smoker, after 20 years of having a habit that ruled me, it's amazing to be back in charge."

Juan's tips for wannabe quitters: 

  • Be prepared – both physically and mentally for stopping. If you are not ready to quit then you might start smoking again.
  • If you do start smoking, don't think of it as failing, but as practicing. Some people kick the habit on their first go but for most people it takes a few tries.
  • Don't build it up as something scary in your mind. Go into giving up with a positive attitude.
  • Take it one day at a time, and before you know it you'll stop counting the days.
  • Challenge yourself – think about the reasons you smoke and for quitting. And when you want a cigarette, think about what would happen if you don't have it.

Juan says it would be impossible for her to start smoking now. "The benefits far outweigh the enjoyment I used to get from having a cigarette."

If you're a smoker and you want to kick the habit, visit quit.org.au or ring Quitline on 13 7848.

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