Yes, you CAN quit smoking!

“Doc,” he said to me with all sincerety, “I’d really like to quit smoking but I just can’t.”

How many times have I heard that ridiculous statement???

Of course you can quit smoking.

It may not be easy, but absolutely YES YOU CAN!

Here’s the deal.

First off, Why should you not smoke?

Believe it or not, I actually get folks who ask me this fairly frequently.

1. Smoking is terrible for your health. There is really no argument here. This is a given!

2. Smoking is damn expensive. The average price for a pack of cigs in these parts is around 3-4 bucks! At a pack a day, that works up to about $90-120 bucks a month or $1095-1460 a year.

Few things annoy me more than when some patient moans about how they can’t afford insurance, or they can’t afford to pay their $3 copay for medicaid, but they somehow can manage a 2 or 3 pack a day cigarette habit.

Please folks, don’t come to my clinic and complain about the cost of healthcare or try and demand that the government raise everyones taxes to give you free healthcare if you smoke!

3. Did I mention smoking is damn expensive?

Well here’s another aspect to it. All those expensive medications you’re on that you complain about not being able to afford……all those expensive medical tests and interventions that you complain about not being able to afford….all that expensive health insurance that you complain about not being able to afford. The costs associated with all that stuff typically goes up fairly dramatically if you smoke!

Ask yourself, how many of those medications, tests, and other interventions would you perhaps not even need if you didn’t smoke.

Are you taking medicine for high blood pressure?

Are you taking medicine for acid reflux?

Have you had a heart attack or stroke?

Do you have rotting teeth and bad gums?

All these things, and many more can be and are influenced by smoking.

Guess what…insurance companies know this too. That’s why they charge higher rates, or worse, sometimes deny coverage altogether for smokers.

4. Smoking isn’t just affecting you.

It also affects those around you. Your friends. Your family. Your loved ones. Your neighbors.

All that money being siphoned out of your bank account directly from buying cigarettes, and indirectly for the associated costs listed in #3 above…well that’s not just less money for you. It’s also less money for your family and loved ones.

Another affect on those around you…second-hand smoke.

A third affect…whether you believe it or not….we all have people who use us as role models. When you smoke, others….especially your children…are much more likely to smoke too.

Finally, your cigarette smoking affects society as a whole by raising everyones insurance rates and tax rates. When you smoke, you’re costing me money!!!


So anyway, these are just the reasons that come immediately to my mind.

I remember in medical school hearing a statistic once. It surprised me. It basically stated that only something like 2/3 of smokers who routinely go to the doctor had ever been told by their doctor to quit smoking.

That number really shocked me. What also shocked me was the speakers assertion or attempted assertion that because of this, it is the doctors fault that people continue to smoke.

She was basically saying, “Make sure you aren’t one of these bad doctors who don’t tell their patients to quit smoking. Patients will listen to you. If you tell them to quit, they will.”

Well, I know from experience that simply telling most smokers to quit usually doesn’t get the desired result.

In fact, I’ve occasionally gotten quite a negative result for my efforts.

I even had one patient threaten me with physical violence when I advised him to quit.

All that said…..Just in case there are any folks out there reading this who have been saying to themselves “Gosh, I like smoking. I’m not so sure it’s really bad for me. I guess if a doctor ever told me to quit, then I suppose I’d quit.”…..

Just in case you are one of these folks and are reading this post now…




Okay, but now back to the opening line of this post. You remember right? That nonsensical whining “Oh but doctor….I can’t quit!”


The question is how bad do you want to quit. Until you truly want to quit, you won’t quit. It sounds brutal. It isn’t all touchy feely or politically correct I suppose, but it’s the truth. If you want to quit bad enough you will quit. If you don’t want to bad enough, you won’t quit.

Let me ask you this.

Suppose our buddy Osama Bin Laden were to move into your home. Now suppose Ole Osama were to follow you everywhere you go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And suppose he brought along his AK-47 assault rifle and kept it aimed at your knee. And suppose he told you that for every cigarette you light, from now on, he’s gonna pop a bullet into your leg. Do you suppose you’d be able to quit smoking then? Would you want to quit bad enough at that point to actually make it happen?

Of course you would!

I know, I know, there’s some smartypants out there saying “Oh, I’d still have to light up. He’d just have to shoot me.” Well, I guarantee you this. You might light up once, but the first time Osama put a round into your kneecap and showed you he meant business, you’d quit.

Well, that is the sort of thing I’m talking about.

If you want to quit smoking…’ve got to really want it….You’ve got to want it like Osama has just moved in!

You can quit.

The first step is to remove the word can’t from your vocabulary.

Okay, enough of the pontificating.

What is the best way to go about quitting?

Although it’s not popular, I think there is a lot to be said for going Cold Turkey. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than other methods, and depending on which statistics you look at, has a pretty competitive success rate with other methods.

There are also a lot of aids out there to help a person quit, some better than others.

These include things like nicotine in various forms (Commit Lozenges, Nicorette Gum, Nicoderm Patches, etc), Zyban (Bupropion), Chantix (Varenicline), Inversine (Mecamylamine), etc.

There are also various forms of psychologic counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and some more fringe stuff like hypnosis and laser treatments. (By fringe, I don’t mean it won’t work, just that it’s not mainstream.)

Ultimately, some of this stuff may or may not help you kick the habit, but none of it will make you kick the habit.

The only thing that will make you quit smoking is YOU.

It is you that must decide to quit putting cigarettes to your lips and lighting them up. Nobody can do it for you. No pill or patch or gum or laser will do it for you. Osama isn’t coming to dinner either.

You have to be the grown up here….suck it up….realize it won’t necessarily be fun or easy….and QUIT SMOKING!

Okay, that’s enough preaching for now.

Perhaps in future posts I’ll discuss some more specifics about various stop smoking treatments like Chantix or Zyban…how they work, pros and cons, etc.

What do you folks think? Would you be interested in this sort of thing?

What other topics would like to read about?

Let me know!

Till next time, Cheers!


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