The book in question being Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking. It works, and I’m going to try and precis it a bit in order to explain why it works.
We’ve all been told, ‘oh, you’ll get cancer, you’ll die young, it’ll be horrible, if it’s not cancer it’ll be emphysema, do you have any idea what you’re doing to your lungs?’, and you can say that to a smoker until you’re blue in the face. However much of an impact it has, however much it scares you, however much the person saying that to you cares about you, makes you cry, throw up, whatever, it almost certainly won’t stop you. My response was, internally at least, ‘look, if my quality of life decreases that much I’m going to kill myself anyway so I don’t have to go through the pain. I’m not scared of death, I’m just scared of pain’. Showing me pictures of the things I’m doing to my lungs and throat, of someone else’s yellow hands, moustache or teeth, of children blowing out smoke or a cigarette dripping with cholesterol aren’t going to stop me either for the same reasons. Scare tactics do not work. Remember that, everyone. Don’t give someone the lecture because you think they need to stop smoking, you’re honestly not going to change their mind any further than from ‘I like smoking, I’ll quit in a few years’ to ‘I like smoking, but I probably ought to try quitting soon’.
No, Allen Carr says, over and over again, that it tastes horrible, that you can feel your lungs constricting, it makes you dizzy, you hate the way you smell after you’ve had a cigarette, and it doesn’t actually make you feel any better. He points out that nicotine isn’t that addictive: you can smoke a hundred a day, feeling that you ‘need’ to light up the next from the one that preceded it, but you can sleep through the nights easily, so you don’t need that nicotine. It doesn’t relax you, or if it does, only because it satisfies your mild need for nicotine for a couple of seconds – it’s like wearing a tight pair of shoes in order to get the sense of relief you get from taking them off after a few hours. Why not just wear sensible shoes? Or in this case, not smoke. He points out that you only think you’re addicted, and you don’t actually get any pleasure from smoking.
You’re allowed to carry on smoking while you read his book, and he even advises that you do. Today I found out why. I had one, and the moment I breathed in the smoke I felt positively ill. It was horrible, and I felt no better, and I gave myself a headache. The second made me feel physically sick.
Basically all I’m saying is, remember this. It’s a good book and a good method and I can honestly see why it’s the only one to be this successful – over 90% of people who quit through the Easyway method never pick up another fag in their lives, whereas people who try Nicorette patches and gum or who quit through willpower alone, are pretty likely to just pick it up again.
Carr proves that you don’t need willpower. He makes you actively not want to smoke and find the whole experience pretty disgusting. And it’s odd that more people don’t believe him – that, say, the NHS don’t endorse and advertise his book and his clinics – because it’s so simple, so cheap, and almost magical. But to believe me you’d have to be a smoker, and try it yourself, because it sounds fantastical and against all logic – that by talking about hte minor evils of how bad it smells and how it’s boring and tastes foul and gives you a headache, you can make someone quit, but by telling them that actually, you are going to have to amputate their legs just doesn’t work.