There are several techniques to quit smoking. Cold turkey, nicotine patches/gum, hypnosis, electronic cigarettes (this concept is debatable) and other medical treatment are common methods to kick the habit. What I would like to introduce is a fresh but practical concept called "Placebo Smoking ". As the name suggests, "Placebo Smoking" is a discipline to guide the mind and body to believe the body is relaxed by apparently "smoking"; when it does not involve a physical cigarette. I can imagine some objections at this moment - "I will probably need a real cigarette after a while", "I can't pretend to be relaxed without the actual cigarette/nicotine", "I am deceiving myself!". So how will this technique really help quit smoking? The guiding principle behind this is our breathing technique. The inhaling/exhaling of cigarette smoke is what truly creates the lasting relaxing effect, not the cigarette's burning taste or nicotine's chemical effects. Studies mentioned that nicotine is a stimulant/relaxant and can transmit signals to the brain to release chemicals that alter mood, emotion and behaviour. However, such effects are short-term and last for minutes only. On the other hand, proper breathing techniques can produce the same benefits - without the foul smell cigarette smoke leaves on our breath and fingers. Not to mention reducing the risk of lung cancer, pregnancy complications and other health hazards tar and other chemicals can do to our body. I am sure we have seen smokers who lived till the age of 90 but why should we take that chance that we can live for the next 60 years without the risk of smoking-related diseases ? This is a gamble I personally do not wish to take. Now, if you are committed to quit smoking, here are the next steps. Step 1 The first step is always to cut down the daily intake. Start by one cigarette after each meal, one on the way to the office and one on the way back home. That is about 5 cigarettes a day from your usual. If you are smoking less than 5 a day, you are very close to quitting smoking entirely. Then stick to 1 a day and smoke that one cigarette after a long day work. Cutting down takes away a lot of psychological pressure that quitting takes so take baby steps.
Step 2 When you are consistently smoking 5 or less cigarettes a day, you are very close to being less reliant on smoking and moving away from the vicious habit. This is now the game changer - when you finish the last pack, do not think of buying. Think about something else - you could save that up, go have a coffee and start practicing "Placebo Smoking". Do this - imagine yourself taking a pack of cigarettes from your pocket, take out a stick and put it in your mouth. Imagine lighting it and go through that whole motion. Now, take a deep breath and inhale the imaginary cigarette. Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly and imagine releasing the cigarette smoke from your mouth and nostrils. Take another imaginary puff and reenact the whole motion. Feel your lungs expand as you take in the air and your body relaxing as you exhale. Take your mind away from the smoking intent and continue with another activity.
Step 3 The next time you feel an urge to smoke (after watching someone smoke or decide to take a breather), practice Step 2 again. Move your fingers to your mouth while pretending to hold a cigarette between your fingers and inhale the imaginary cigarette again. Remember, take that temptation away by practicing "Placebo Smoking". Remind yourself to fight that urge by not focusing on the medium - which is the cigarette but focusing on proper breathing techniques.
Through these 3 easy steps, it is possible to condition our mind and body to replace actual smoking with "Placebo Smoking". When we learn to form new positive habits and ditch old degenerate ones, we can step out of comfort zones and do the seemingly impossible. Do the "impossible" today.