Back in 1964, we received our first official warning against smoking. That’s when the U.S. Surgeon General released a report saying cigarette smoking actually causes lung cancer. And over the last 50 years, the evidence that smoking is responsible for a host of health problems has only increased.
Now, we also know that it raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction, and other types of cancer, including cancers of the bladder, colon, esophagus, kidney, larynx, pancreas, and stomach.
The good news is that fewer Americans than ever are picking up cigarettes. In 1965, 42 percent of Americans smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2015, the number had dropped to just 15 percent, the CDC says.
But those numbers don’t mean much to those who are still puffing away. As any past or current smoker knows, quitting smoking is not easy—it involves overcoming a full-blown addiction.
Still, stubbing out the smokes is possible. And just as everyone differs in how they picked up the habit and what triggers them to light up, the effectiveness of quitting techniques differs from person to person, too. So if one technique doesn’t work for you, don’t think you’re destined to smoke forever—you might just respond better to another method.
Allow these three men—former smokers, some who sucked down as many as two packs a day—to explain the struggles and strategies that ultimately led them to a hard-earned new status: nonsmoker. Try their tricks so you can quit smoking, too.
1. Jay R., 31, Scranton, PA
Years he smoked: 13
How he quit: Chantix
2. Nick G., 32, Philadelphia, PA
How long he smoked: 8 years
How he quit: Exercise and stress-relief
3. Jonathan S., 51, Boston, MA
How long he smoked: 23 years
How he quit: Gradually