When have we really quit?

Recently I've been thinking about what it means to have quit. These thoughts were sparked by recurring debates that come up from time to time on the forum, particularly with regard to prolonged use of NRT, and to a lesser degree with regard to someone who no longer "really" smokes, but who has an occasional puff at a social event. What about the person who quit smoking six years ago but who still uses a nicotine filled e-cig, or a nicotine inhalator? What about that person who is using nicotine gum on a daily basis two years after their quit? What about the person who's smoking herbal cigarettes, containing no nicotine?

Where do we draw the line on what constitutes having quit?

Alex.

55 Replies

oldestnewest
  • It's a topical point for me because I was at a gathering last week where there was a guy I know who's not had a real cigarette in what must be six months or more and proclaims himself quit, yet was still puffing away on an e-cig every twenty minutes or so.

    Each to his own, don't get me wrong but I did ask myself "if the nicotine's gone after three days and you haven't had a fag in over six months, why do you really need that still?"

    I didn't ask him outright as I was only idly curious but your post reminded me of it...maybe I should have done :confused:

  • Dear Alex, you've got me thinking again:confused:

    For me, I see quitting as quitting smoking TOBACCO.

    After much reading, the way I see it is, nicotine is the drug which is highly addictive, but it's the 4000+ chemicals in tobacco that causes the diseases and eventually the deaths.

    It's a bit different from alcohol which is in what ever is your poison, be it beer, wine etc.

    NRT certainly helps in the first stages of quitting but at the end of the day it just doesn't do the same as smoking a cigarette so eventually you are able to do without it.

    I'm not sure about e-cigs because I've never tried them but they would seem to be a bit dangerous, only because they are imitating smoking tobacco?

  • I don't suppose there will be one universally accepted answer to this question, but to me it relates to another one:

    When you quit smoking, do you become a non-smoker or an ex-smoker? I believe once you've been a smoker, you can only become an ex-smoker, because I believe that a non-smoker is someone who has never smoked.

    As a person who quit cold turkey, the answer to the OP's original question is simple, black and white. For me, I quit on March 14, 2012. On that day, I became an ex-smoker.

    Should I be foolish (or drunk) enough to smoke another cigarette in the future, I will no longer be an ex-smoker; I'll be a smoker. Being a smoker has nothing to do with frequency, you can have a cigarette once every five years and I'd still say you are a smoker (albeit a really light one!).

    It has to do with - do you ever smoke? If you do, no matter how infrequently, you are (in my mind) a smoker.

    Now, the original question may be examined on another level as well. When have we really quit could mean when do we know we've completed the transition from being a smoker quitting to being an ex-smoker no longer thinking about, or worrying about, quitting.

    I'm still in transition, 164 days from my last cigarette. I'm an ex-smoker, but I still think about them, and every once in a while, wish I could have one, so I don't think I'm a rock solid ex-smoker yet.

    Interesting question!

  • When you quit smoking, do you become a non-smoker or an ex-smoker?

    It's really a different question indeed. I'm referring to the point at which a person can consider that they have quit smoking, not whether they are an ex-smoker or a non-smoker.

    To answer your question, I look at it this way; if you have murdered someone, you can never become an ex-murderer! :eek::D

    Alex.

  • Sorry if I confused anybody by my answer to DGee above. I think I just confused myself!!! :eek::confused::p:D

  • It's really a different question indeed. I'm referring to the point at which a person can consider that they have quit smoking, not whether they are an ex-smoker or a non-smoker.

    To answer your question, I look at it this way; if you have murdered someone, you can never become an ex-murderer! :eek::D

    Alex.

    True dat. :D

  • Thank god I'm not an ex-murderer, just an ex-smoker :p:D

    Now this is getting personal! :p

  • Alex... Are you trying to tell us something? Is this your way of confessing your sins?

    I'm not too sure, really. Remember my recurring dream? :eek::eek::eek:

  • Didn't you say you thought it was me you killed? :eek: OMG lol

    Not yet. :D

  • It's a topical point for me because I was at a gathering last week where there was a guy I know who's not had a real cigarette in what must be six months or more and proclaims himself quit, yet was still puffing away on an e-cig every twenty minutes or so.

    Each to his own, don't get me wrong but I did ask myself "if the nicotine's gone after three days and you haven't had a fag in over six months, why do you really need that still?"

    I didn't ask him outright as I was only idly curious but your post reminded me of it...maybe I should have done :confused:

    I wonder if it had a nicotine cartridge? If not then it's just vapour and whatever other (potentially nasty) chemicals they put in e-cigs.

    For me personally I feel NRT can be a help for people at the start of a quit. It can be quite a shock suddenly not smoking and I suppose NRT takes the edge off. I think if that initial boost turns into months and then years then I would have to ask myself some serious questions and one would be have I just replaced one addiction with another.

    Agreed, NRT can be a means to deal with the psychological while weaning off the physical. In my mind, we haven't really quit until we're completely off both. Of course, technically we are no longer smoking, but we are still addicted, as you say.

    I don't agree with e-cigs or herbal cigarettes. The hardest part of quitting is the psychological side. How can you call yourself a non smoker if you are still going through the motions. I think people get very confused by quitting smoking and just quitting nicotine. The latter isn't quitting smoking.

    E-cigs are strange in my mind. I would class that if they contain nicotine then that constitutes smoking. If not then I'm not quite sure what is the point. I've never actually heard of anyone smoking herbals, although I know they exist. Still, I guess I would consider that smoking, despite the lack of nicotine content, simply because it is inhaling smoke.

    Quitting smoking isn't just about not taking in harmful chemicals from a cigarette. If that is your purpose then probably better to say "I'm smoking in the safest way I feel I can" rather than I've quit smoking. The truth is you haven't.

    As for smoking now and again. Well some successful quitters do have a slip up and never smoke again. If it becomes more than that then call yourself a social smoker, not a quitter.

    Agreed. :D

    Dear Alex, you've got me thinking again:confused:

    For me, I see quitting as quitting smoking TOBACCO.

    After much reading, the way I see it is, nicotine is the drug which is highly addictive, but it's the 4000+ chemicals in tobacco that causes the diseases and eventually the deaths.

    It's a bit different from alcohol which is in what ever is your poison, be it beer, wine etc.

    NRT certainly helps in the first stages of quitting but at the end of the day it just doesn't do the same as smoking a cigarette so eventually you are able to do without it.

    I'm not sure about e-cigs because I've never tried them but they would seem to be a bit dangerous, only because they are imitating smoking tobacco?

    I think you'll find that nicotine is in fact a poison, and therefore probably has some ill effects, just like the other 4000+ chemicals, but I'm no expert.

    I don't suppose there will be one universally accepted answer to this question, but to me it relates to another one:

    When you quit smoking, do you become a non-smoker or an ex-smoker? I believe once you've been a smoker, you can only become an ex-smoker, because I believe that a non-smoker is someone who has never smoked.

    The two questions are related. However, it's easy to get hung up on semantics. Just as you ask about the ex-smoker / non-smoker paradigm, it's difficult to pin down exactly what constitutes smoking and what constitutes quitting. For example, an e-cig is not technically smoking, and yet it can contain nicotine. A herbal cigarette doesn't contain nicotine, and yet it is on fire and we inhale its smoke.

    I guess what I'm getting at is trying to understand when can say we are fully quit. Perhaps it is when we are rid of all substances and habits associated with cigarette smoking, as well as being rid of the psychological addiction (craving, wanting, yearning for, having fond memories of).

    There are just so many angles, it is hard for me to get my head around it!

    Alex.

    P.S. Sorry for the long post!

  • Thank god I'm not an ex-murderer, just an ex-smoker :p:D

    The murderer is probley an ex smoker. Lack of nicotine drove him to kill:p

  • I think I will never be a non smoker because I smoked for years and years, I am someone who once smoked (x smoker if you like) and hopefully will never smoke again.

    I have been quit 2 years 8 months and one day, see you never forget do you, it was a massive part of our lives so I think that no matter how long you stay off of it you can never guarantee you want smoke again, one day at a time is still my motto even though I can go months without giving it a thought, well not till I come on here and then I thank god I was lucky enough to be able to give it up.

    To me you are still hooked un till you are free of all by products of tobacco, no matter what form it takes, sorry to anyone who is still imbibing after 12 months etc.

    It’s like being an alcoholic, if you drink you are one and if you don’t you are classed as recovering, so you are never not one!!! Does that make sense, maybe not :eek:

  • Wow, Jamangie is back!!! :D I hope all is going well with you?

    Thanks for your insight. My BIL was saying he still wants to smoke after 12 years quit, so I hear you.

    Alex.

  • Thanks Alex for remembering who I am LOL, yes my friend quit over 3 years ago and has just gone back on the inhaler, I think she is nuts but she says she is not smoking, I see it as one step away even though her partner is in remission from lung cancer and a secondary brain tumour, the reason for them both giving up.

    I truly hope I will have the strength and courage to never smoke again God willing.

    Glad you are still going strong.

  • Where do we draw the line on what constitutes having quit?

    We're quit when we have no wish to smoke.

    Some manage it the day they quit.

    Some adjust to it briefly.

    Some adjust to it slowly.

    Some people never quit despite not smoking for years.

    The latter are some of the saddest people I've ever met because even after years of being smoke-free they've still got that association with tobacco that means that they wish to smoke but choose not to.

  • Alex,

    I came on here cos I have been pondering things for a week and finally 'grew some' and came on here to 'bare my soul' so to speak and here I find my friend has posted something very apt for me, fate I suppose you could call it.

    After being quit almost 2 years, last Friday, on a very drunken escapade I ended up having a (as in one only) cigarette. I haven't had one since and have no desire to, no craving, no ill effects at all.

    So, does this make me a smoker again? No, I wouldn't say it does, I would say I was an ex smoker who had a lapse. If that lapse had been 2 weeks into my quit I know that I would of become a full time smoker again without a doubt, but now almost 2 years on I don't see it that way. I see that I had a momentary lapse in concentration, that's is now past and I have moved forward. Has it played on my mind since? Yes, obviously otherwise I probably wouldn't be here now would I?

    Why do I think it happened? I had the crappiest week I have had for a long time, the night out was already scheduled for my birthday and the 2 things collided and I just didn't care for that moment, as I say, a momentary lapse in concentration.

    Can I put my hand on my heart and say I will never smoke again? No, I don't think I can, but then I have never professed to be able to make such a claim. All I can say for sure, is today, I will not smoke.

    Sian

  • Hi Sean,

    I think Austin said it best in his post just above yours: "We're quit when we have no wish to smoke."

    I'm certainly not here to judge anyone. Only you can decide for yourself whether the fact that you smoked one cigarette was related to the fact that you used to smoke or not. Sadly, I think it probably was, which would suggest that at some level you're not really done with smoking.

    Can we grant "attenuating circumstances" due to severe inebriation? I dunno, I'm not a psychiatrist or a lawyer. :D

    To be honest, and if it's any consolation, I think that anybody who has invested enough in smoking - to the point where they have had to make a conscious decision to quit - will always be able to take it up again, and much more easily than quitting. In other words, I think that once a smoker, always a smoker.

    We need to be vigilant, even if we have become perfectly accustomed to not smoking, and rarely even thinking about smoking. I know I would do a double-take if I was at a party and somebody offered me one.

    Alex.

  • Interesting questions.

    I think you've quit smoking when you no longer smoke anything at all (herbal or otherwise).

    You're quitting smoking when you're in the withdrawal phase. Just because something is in progress, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    As far as I'm concerend I am a 'non smoker' (I am of course an 'ex smoker' too but being one doesn't exclude being the other).

    I am divorced but don't describe myself as an 'ex wife'. I am now someone elses fiancee, how awful if I always had to say 'I'm engaged to Paul, but I'm also someone's 'ex wife!'.

    If someone decides to stop eating meat we don't normally refer to them as an 'ex meat eater' (even though it would be factually correct to say that), they would probably describe themselves as vegetarian or say 'I don't eat meat'.

    Those people who only smoke at parties or other social occasions are casual smokers but smokers nonetheless, (according to Alan Carr they are just as,or more, addicted than someone who smokes 20 a day).

    My belief is that if you don't smoke anything on any occasion - you have quit smoking; if you've quit smoking, then you are a non smoker.

  • I think you have really quit smoking when, in your psyche, you have moved from needing or wanting to give up to not needing or wanting to smoke.

  • We're quit when we have no wish to smoke.

    Some manage it the day they quit.

    Some adjust to it briefly.

    Some adjust to it slowly.

    Some people never quit despite not smoking for years.

    The latter are some of the saddest people I've ever met because even after years of being smoke-free they've still got that association with tobacco that means that they wish to smoke but choose not to.

    Totally agree with you about the saddest people.

  • Can I just stress that they're sad to me! They're not gloomy and depressed and walk around under a permanent cloud! :p

  • Actually I'm a bit sad. I'm sad to see such (in MY view) smug and patronising comments about smokers.

    This forum is amazing and fabulous and to me it's been a source of support which has been helping me to quit and I am thankful I accidentally found it in a google search BUT I'm also very glad that I didn't see comments such as those above the first days I was here

    As a born again non smoker I promise never:

    - to patronise people who are struggling to give up smoking whether directly or in reference (whether they are struggling to quit or just can't quit)

    - be smug that I've managed to quit smoking and am happy about it

  • I have to say, all I see above (unless I didn't go far enough back) is a discussion and opinions; didn't see any smugness in there, or anything partonising? Maybe it's just me? :confused:

  • I have to say, all I see above (unless I didn't go far enough back) is a discussion and opinions; didn't see any smugness in there, or anything partonising? Maybe it's just me? :confused:

    It was possibly the way I read it. Possibly I made a mistake and read something in the wrong tone. If that's the case the I will stand corrected and hope I havn't inadvertently caused any offense!

    Eeek...

    Edited to add - Went through the thread again to work it out, and I think that in some part I read too much into what was being said... but there is a general undertone of something not quite supportive in some parts of the thread... but that could be me being too sensitive.

  • This is interesting discussion with a number of opinions regarding the terminology of having 'quit' or being a 'non smoker'. I'm not sure what the definition of a non smoker is. For instance how does the NHS define a non smoker, or do they rely on the 'patient' filling in a tick box to indicate what they think they are?

    I'm not a chap or a cigar smoker, but if a man, and for some reason it's nearly always men, enjoys a cigar on a special occasion, such as Christmas, birthdays, meal out, child being born, Ramadan, Hanukkah - delete as appropriate - but doesn't smoke cigars the rest of the time, is he a smoker or not?

    I can think of a couple of people I've known who like a cigar now and again as one of the finer things in life to savour without being addicted to them. So what are they?

  • The NHS sent me a certificate to say I was officially a non smoker. If its good enough for them, it's good enough for me.:)

  • My father in law who hasn't smoked for over a decade was still classed as smoker by the Doctor when in ITU due to broken ribs. I guess its down to irrepairable damage we have done to ourselves.

    My feeling is that we never finish quitting, but we have more time to do it!!!

  • My questionnaire at the Dentist's this week had the question, " have you EVER smoked?" :(

  • i suppose a smoker is someone who can actually smoke ,i mean put it in their gob and set fire and roll it (the smoke) around the inside of the mouth, maybe inhale and blow it out. A non smoker is someone who wouldnt dream of doing that in fact they would rather eat bees than do something so ridiculous and 1950s. i cant imagine myself ever smoking i just wouldnt know how and i would hate to learn to do it and impress people with it. id rather be bored than relieve it that way not that it does releive it but you know what i mean. i suppose this means iv really stopped. iv left the stinking oops sinking ship. oh what a rat i am but hey ho. i never promised to stay forever.

    Mx:cool:

  • My husband once asked the doctor and they said you are a smoker if you smoke more than 10 cigs a year???

    So I'm thinking I am no longer a smoker once I have no longer smoked 10 cigs in the last year?

    Which for most would be around the time they have been quit for a year?

  • What do the nhs do with passive smokers then or ex passive smokers . if any uppity doctor or gov official ever tries to keep treatment from me i will tell a very bare faced lie and say iv never smoked in my life. ifthe nhs tries to say we are a drain on resources tell em to send the bill to tobacco companies they should grow some balls and do just that the same goes for the brewers.

    M:cool:

  • if my dentist asks if iv ever smoked i will say no but iv breathed in mercury fumes and while we are on the subject can you remove my black metal fillings and replace them please they are driving me mad.

    M

  • if my dentist asks if iv ever smoked i will say no but iv breathed in mercury fumes and while we are on the subject can you remove my black metal fillings and replace them please with white ones. they are driving me mad.

    M

  • The NHS sent me a certificate to say I was officially a non smoker. If its good enough for them, it's good enough for me.:)

    How did you get that and what did you need to achieve? :)

  • Quitting means nicotine free at the end but..........

    Some people do still use nrt two years down the line in there mind they have quit as no more toxins,its a hard one to talk about but i feel no nicotine in your body is quit for me,no social or anything that relates to nicotine is a must in my eyes to be able to say i really dont smoke is that there must not be no nicotine in your system,but for everyone that still uses nrt i would say to them well done for not smoking and keep going if that works for them.:)

  • Hi Paul, I didn't know I was going to get a certificate. I suppose it is a Scottish NHS thing. I got it for completing 3 months.

  • Steeza, I would say you have quit when you don't smoke. Don't know why people stay on NRT for a long time. I couldn't wait to get rid of it. It doesn't really matter as long as you don't have even one puff. NOPE.

  • This thread is really old but I will chime in too.

    I think it's pretty simple. Smoking is when you breathe in smoke. You've quit smoking when you decide to STOP INHALING SMOKE.

    Now for the intricacies. After what amount of time are you really a non-smoker? How have you really proven that now you are not TRYING to quit but ARE quit? Well that is up to you. Personally, since November 23rd 2012 at 11:45pm when I smoked my last cigarette, I became a non-smoker/ex-smoker/quit smoking. I say this because it is the point when I decided that I would never inhale smoke into my lungs again, period, so long as I live.

    When you really quit isn't a number, or a time, or the duration of struggle nor is it the method of quitting, or the faith others hold in you to not smoke but instead it is a belief in yourself, a dedication, a vow, a relentless voice that will yield to no craving, to no pressure, to not even God himself that says "I am truly finished".

    Trust me when it happens you will know that you indeed have quit.

  • Somewhere on the planet there is, right now, a 10 year old child who has never smoked. In a couple of years time this child will start smoking.

    Can the child say - right now - that he is a non-smoker?

    The fact that a person has never smoked does not mean that they never will. No doubt never-smokers feel that they will never smoke. Maybe one or two will - stupidly - take up smoking later in life. So can a never-smoker truely claim that they will never smoke in the future?

    Why is inevitable that an ex-smoker will relapse?

    The question "when can I truely say that I have quit" is a bit like saying "when can I truely say that I have become a virgin......"

  • Quit smoking means to never inhale anything but earths oxygen into the lungs! If you are inhaling anything besides O2 into the lungs you are smoking! One exception I guess is if you have asthma and inhaling an inhaler then that is different!

  • Quit smoking means to never inhale anything but earths oxygen into the lungs! If you are inhaling anything besides O2 into the lungs you are smoking!

    That's everyone then. :/

  • Quit smoking means to never inhale anything but earths oxygen into the lungs! If you are inhaling anything besides O2 into the lungs you are smoking! One exception I guess is if you have asthma and inhaling an inhaler then that is different!

    I know this is an old post but the pedant in me can't help it... 'air' is actually mostly nitrogen... so by your definition, even non-smokers are smoking :P

  • I know this is an old post but the pedant in me can't help it... 'air' is actually mostly nitrogen... so by your definition, even non-smokers are smoking :P

    Lol, and if you did inhale pure oxygen you'd die :p

  • Hospitals give pure oxygen

    science.howstuffworks.com/q...

    100% o2 is toxic over extended periods :)

  • Ahhh I thought you meant as soon as you breathe it you would die :o

    Oooh no :)

    Sorry, should have explained it better!!

  • Glad I'm not alone :o x x x

    I'm always like it :p

  • Having quit previously and re started, I sort of think that you have never actually quit but have instead been abstinent for however long since your last cigarette. This vigilance helps to prevent starting again.

  • I agree, to say you are quit is fine but excepting the fact that you were a smoker and with the right mind set you could start again if you are not vigilant, so just be aware that like maybe an alcoholic you can never even have a little puff, NOPE has always been my banner when I think of how easy some can and do slip back into being a smoker again.

    I pray that I will never feel the need or be weak enough to relapse, but you never know what Mr Nicotine has up his sleeve.

  • Having quit previously and re started, I sort of think that you have never actually quit but have instead been abstinent for however long since your last cigarette. This vigilance helps to prevent starting again.

    I think of it like this - once you're an addict, you're always an addict. You can most certainly 'quit' smoking, but you are only ever putting your addiction into remission. Once you're addicted to nicotine, you've put a nasty little monster in your head and he's there for life, make no mistake; but what you can do, very effectively, is to send him into a very deep sleep. Never forget he's there though, and always treat him with complete respect - one whiff of his lifeblood and he'll wake up and come beating on the shutters for more:(

    The 'NOPE' mantra sounds very superficial at first sight (or at least it did to me), but as you establish a long term quit it will become your strongest ally - it really is as simple (or as hard) as 'Not One Puff Ever'.

  • Very interesting thread.

    To me smoking is the whole thing - the ciggies and the nicotine. I refer to myself as an addict, this includes the nicotine and any product associated with nicotine too. I also believe once an addict always an addict too (for me) because the nicotine receptors remain asleep until we awaken them (with perhaps a puff/ciggie and/or nicotine product), so we remain vulnerable.

    If we continue to use nicotine products long-term after we have stopped smoking ciggies have we truely kicked the habit of smoking? and/or are we making ourselves more vulnerable to starting all over again? and/or creating a new market?

    HOWEVER, my brother has had 3 ciggies (or nicotine products) in 7 years since his quit, the last being 2 years ago BUT the first being 2 years after his quit (my addiction argument is out the window then isn't it?).

    It seems to me that we need to give ourselves time for our brain to work it out and that we all have our own individual ways which suit us.... and that's OK too :)

    Interesting topic.... :)

  • Ever heard the saying.

    Once a addict always a addict, I guess for me the forum is my resolve, in as much to say, bit like aa, if I continue to reinforce my quit, I will stay quit.

    Indeed those receptors are always presant, so I read read post post, to help me stay quit

  • I guess it'as all to do with whta our problem is - is it health, in which case, it's fine to use any BRT that's out there, or is it freedom from addiction, in which case, NRT is still addiction. I don;t know - I'm still in the place where I have no clue. I'm only 2 weeks into my quit so I'm feeling healthier, but still using NRT . . . . extremely complex . . . . My reasons for stopping were health, but my reasons for hating smoking were addiction. I think I know the answer - just not quite ready to hear it just yet!

  • 81 days free. I am 67 and smoked over 50 years. I think I will always be susceptible and need to be always cautious. Also 38 years free of drugs and alcohol. Same principle different addiction. B

  • Personally I don't mind what label I'm given, ex-smoker, non-smoker. It doesn't really matter. My reasons for quitting are health and financial. So if I'm using a 0 nicotine eCig instead, as far as I'm concerned I've achieved my goal. An alcoholic who has given up alcohol and substitutes grape juice for wine is also achieving their goal.

  • Interesting comments, and the labels are subjective. A doctor may ask if you ever smoked, but common sense would distinguish between someone who smoked 6 months vs. 20 years; or 2 packs daily vs. on holidays. I've smoked long enough that I think I will always call myself an ex-smoker. However I do not call myself an ex pot smoker, because of what I inhaled in HS.

    And I have friends who abused me for smoking for years, but regularly smoke cigars and claim that is not smoking. To each his own.

You may also like...