Last year Jared made a decision to kick the habit and give up smoking. "I had my first cigarette in year 7 with my mate John. I was 12. I didn't really know why we were doing it and I can remember thinking it was pointless."
Jared didn't start smoking regularly until he was 16, and between the ages of 17 and 18 he started smoking heavily. "It was mostly due to not doing much with my time aside from occasionally studying and working. I managed to give up smoking between 2005 and 2007, but I started up again due to work stress."
Jared says the biggest factor that had affected his smoking had always been stress. "I had never had a proper career-type job before and I found it difficult as there was a lot of pressure on me. Working in IT can interrupt your sleeping patterns and can totally fry your brain. For me, having a cigarette allowed me to take some time out to relax – even if it was only temporary gratification."
When Jared started his job in 2007, along with the workplace stress, the amount he was smoking increased. "I had a daily routine that ran like clockwork – a cigarette with breakfast, one for the drive home, with dinner, and so on and so forth. And I'd smoke plenty when I was out drinking."
After buying and moving into his house last year Jared made the decision to stop smoking. "It was a marker – a new house – and I didn't want to smoke there. I'd been thinking about it a lot and it felt like I was constantly trying to give up. But the new house was the final push and it gave me a date."
"The motivation to quit also came from a lifestyle change. I had started doing more outdoorsy activities, such as kayaking and skiing. Smoking was making me feel really unfit. The cigarettes always made me feel a bit sluggish and sickly – so with the new house and lifestyle, they had to go."
"It was hard at first but after I got into the routine of being a non-smoker it became less difficult. It's surprising how quickly you notice the health benefits and this helps."
Nicotine gum helped Jared get through the cravings in the first few months. "I can even recall chewing it when I was skiing at Lake Mountain. It doesn't taste good but it really does help."
After two months of not smoking Jared started to feel comfortable with being a non-smoker. "It took about two months before I was OK with not smoking anymore and before I started really telling people, and myself, that I had stopped smoking."
"The main challenges were the tough times at work. Avoiding the temptation to buy a pack after a 12 hour workday is more than tricky. Your brain really isn't working at 100% capacity at high pressure times like that."
To overcome cravings Jared would remind himself of the benefits of not smoking and why he didn't want to be a smoker. "I'd try and find ways to relax and would always make sure that I had nicotine gum on me. But I don't need to carry the gum anymore."
When Jared started a new job where quite a few people were regular smokers he was worried that it might be challenging. "But it wasn't. The need to smoke to relax really has been replaced. I feel so much healthier, I get sick a lot less than I used to and I've got more money in my pocket!"
Jared's tips for other people trying to quit are:
Jared says that it wouldn't be possible for him to go back to being a smoker now. "I am enjoying being a non-smoker, and all the benefits that come with it, much more than I ever enjoyed being a smoker."
If you're a smoker and you want to kick the habit, visit quit.org.au or ring Quitline on 13 7848.