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Celebrate your no-smoking journey with your best buddies.
According to government reports, 60.6% of Filipino cigarette smokers were looking to quit the habit in 2009. That number has since increased exponentially. For many smokers, kicking the habit is driven by a variety of reasons, such as health, family, or finances.
But quitting can be difficult, and relapsing is not uncommon. The good thing, however, is that each shot at quitting is another small step towards the day when you can finally say ‘Quit na ako.’
Housemates Julian Hernandez, 32 and Ernest Dazo, 35, agree. They know half the battle is having the will and mental fortitude to resist the cravings, urges and feelings that come with smoking.
According to Julian, a Software Engineer, and Ernest, a Web Developer, they were both heavy smokers for a long period of time, and that they would each have a pack of cigarettes whenever they worked late into the night.
“All we did was ask each other to always have a pack of cigarettes for the house. It came to the point our place became amoy-usok,” they shared. This, according to the buddies, was what convinced them to quit.
Let’s look at some of the tactics that worked for Julian and Ernest.
According to Julian, he first attempted to quit smoking by going cold turkey. This, Julian says, didn’t work too well for him. “It was so tough, my mood was off, and I got so irritably hungry every time,” he explained.
Ernest saw how Julian struggled, and as a show of support, decided to join Julian at quitting.
Instead of quitting cold turkey, what worked for the two was gradually reducing their intake with a set deadline in mind. Not only that, they talked to their partners and family about their decision to quit. By publicizing it to those closest to them, they showed they were ready to take digs from those ready to rub it in their faces should they fail!
Doing this and monitoring their day-to-day progress, they were able to motivate each other to quit smoking.
They were also able to convince other friends to go on this journey with them, with the duo eventually creating a support group where they could discuss ways to avoid getting back into the habit.
Another strategy that Julian and Ernest tried was removing temptations that could lure them back to smoking.
The first thing that Julian and Ernest did was stop buying cigarette packs by the carton. Then, as they gradually lessened their smoking habits, they paced it to a pack a week until they no longer felt the need to buy more. Then, they removed novelty lighters and ashtrays from their living space, making it harder for them to smoke indoors.
After that, the pair changed their daily routines. For instance, instead of lighting cigarettes while working late nights, they made sure to have a bowl of healthy snacks such as fruits, that they could munch on.
Whenever he felt the need to hold a cigarette, Ernest opted to keep his hands busy by doing small things like squeezing a stress ball or spinning a pen with his fingers. “It might sound random, but it did help especially early on when I was so used to having a cigarette while finishing work at home,” Ernest said.
According to Julian, quitting smoking allowed him to explore new passions and hobbies, such as cooking.
Julian noted that his fiancé was studying how to cook at that time and would often do some experimental cooking in their apartment. This led him to discover how good he was at making sushi bake and ube cheese pandesal. So, instead of lounging around watching TV with a cigarette in hand, he now spends more time in the kitchen helping his fiancé cook. It also turned into an opportunity to get closer to loved ones and spend quality time with them.
Ernest, on the other hand, took up guitar playing to keep his mind off from cigarettes.
“Learning how to play the guitar not only helped me become more focused, it also helped keep my hands busy, which helped stave off the temptation to light a stick,” Ernest explained.
Not only that, Julian’s newfound love for cooking rekindled other flames. “Dagdag pogi points kasi!” he added, laughing.
Reward yourself – maybe the headphones, maybe the coffee!
The first time Julian went off cigarettes for a whole 24 hours, he celebrated by taking out his fiancé for a nice lunch the next day. This inspired both Julian and Ernest to develop a reward system for their journey.
According to the duo, they even started rewarding themselves for achieving small milestones such as recruiting another friend into their online support group and surviving late-night hangouts with other smoker friends without lighting a single stick.
In addition, once Julian and Ernest saw how much they saved by not buying cigarettes, they decided to use that money to treat their families and the friends who have supported them.
“Cigarettes cost a lot in the long run, so when I saw how much money I saved by quitting the habit, I decided to buy things like a vintage record player for myself and a pair of new kicks,” Ernest said. Now, he’s enjoying the analog sounds from his vinyl records and stepping out in style with his sneakers.
Another tactic that Julian and Ernest used during their quitting journey was to actively explore other alternatives to smoking, such as e-cigarettes.
“We tried just about everything on shelf when it came to alternatives but settled for an e-cigarette as that was the one that helped the most,” the pair said.
According to the pair, e-cigarettes— especially the ones with closed-pod systems—are helpful because they help mimic the actions one would normally do when smoking a cigarette.
Not only that, e-cigarettes are also affordable, with starter kits retailing for around PHP550—roughly the cost of a monthly Netflix premium subscription. In addition, the pods are also cost-effective, as they allow users to vape at their own pace without needing to finish or waste an entire stick’s worth of puffs in a single sitting.
Julian and Ernest both note that not everyone will have the same experience as them, and that their tips might not be immediately effective for others. Despite that, the pair shared that they did have one trick that really worked for them: keeping a positive outlook.
“At the end of the day, having a positive mindset is also very important,” Julian and Ernest said, noting that affirming themselves every time they felt like they failed motivated them to keep going.
“Adopting a positive outlook makes it easier to keep on going and pushing through the challenges,” the pair said.
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