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A manual to quit smoking:
In continuation of our study of the concepts of “Thinking Strategically”, this week we studied
the concept of “Credible Commitment” and the eight ways to build credibility. There cannot
be a better example other than a smoker’s decision to quit, where a more credible
commitment is needed. I will try to explain how these eight ways are used implicitly for
quitting. These observations are either from my own personal experience or from observing
my friends. In my endless quest to stop smoking (which is currently going good), I have used
a variety of these methods.
Reputation: One of the good deterrence for not starting to smoke after quitting is to tie your
reputation with it. A lot of my friends used to publicize their decision to quit smoking. It was
the fear of losing reputation and of being a topic of continuous joke; that prevented them
from starting again. Also, some of them were in the stage of building new life long
relationships, and they didn’t wanted to communicate a wrong message and spoil their
Contracts: Lot of my friends used to tie their quitting decision to other things. Coming from
a religious society, these people will make agreements with God; for stopping to smoke in
return of some reward. It was the fear of reneging on the word to God and the fear of
subsequent punishment that prevented them from starting again. Also, a contract with God
had no scope of renegotiation.
Cut off communication: Several people distance themselves from other smokers
immediately after quitting. This range from staying at home more often, going for vacations,
breaking friendships etc. It is the period immediately after quitting that is critical and here
any exposure to smoke or smokers can be a reason for relapse.
Burning your bridges: The most important thing to be done to prevent relapse of smoking
immediately after quitting is to throw away all things related to smoking. Here a person is
advised to discard all leftover cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays etc. With this a person has no
chance to smoke when the craving of cigarettes come.
Leaving the decision to chance: On of the ways commonly advised by various experts on
“How to Quit” and with which I personally don’t agree, is to increase your smoking to a level
that it becomes unsustainable to continue. Here a person is advised to increase his intake of
number of cigarettes and also to inhale so deeply that it hurts. With this, there is a chance that
the person will start to dislike the smoking and the habit will become unsustainable.
Move in small steps: A very essential and much easier way to quit is to decrease your
smoking slowly in steps before finally quitting. I have used this method successfully. I
decreased my intake of cigarettes over a period of time and also experimented with different
quitting techniques. This helped me not only to quit easily but also decrease the withdrawal
symptoms to a large extent.
Teamwork: From my experience just as teenagers start to smoke with friends, it is always
easier to quit with friends only. If one of you is still smoking in a group, it acts as a major
stimulant to relapse for quitters.