How to Beat a Bad Habit

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by Suzanna Andrews (who at press time had been smoke free for 120 days)
cigarette ban sign image
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

There is a carton of cigarettes in my kitchen, which I cannot yet bear to throw away.

It’s been three months since I took my last puff, after 25 years of smoking. Today is one of the bad days, when I remember precisely why I started up again each time I’d tried to quit. All I can think is, Everything will be all right if I can Just. Have. ONE. I see myself getting up from the couch, walking into the kitchen—as if I have split in two and am watching my smoking twin reach for a pack.

I blank on the reasons I have desperately wanted to quit for so long. I’ve wanted to be free, not only of the health risks but also of the mental prison that smoking creates, the messages that bombard the mind: that without cigarettes you can’t think clearly, handle stress or fully enjoy life.

This time I made no plans to quit. I picked up a pack one morning after a serious bout of bronchitis had forced me to stop for two weeks and heard a small voice say, “Be free of this now.” I put the pack down. There was no patch, no gum, no manic exercise program. Just a profound, almost spiritual sense that it was my thinking—not my physiology—that had to change.

Do I really need a cigarette? It’s a question I ask and answer every day. Some days I actually have to say it out loud: “No! NO!”

Suzanna Andrews is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. At press time, she had been smoke free for 120 days.

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Illustration courtesy of Mastepanov Pavel/Shutterstock.com

Originally published in the June 2013 issue

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