Like most smokers who want to quit, Andrew Plumer, 43, didn't succeed the first time he tried. But he kept trying. A reference librarian at the National Library of Medicine since 2004, Plumer is now a nonsmoker.
Why and when did you start smoking?
When I was 19. I was in college, and it was the cool thing to do.
Why did you want to quit?
I was getting older—and getting winded after chasing after my son. I constantly had colds. Plus, it was expensive!
How many times have you tried to quit?
I tried seriously at least a half-dozen times. The length of time I was smoke free ranged from two to three weeks up to six months. But when my stress level increased, I would start smoking again. This time, I did something I read about: try to quit when you're doing something out of the ordinary. So, I quit when my wife and I went to Italy. I couldn't smoke on the flight, and when we got there we were so busy doing things that it made it easier not to think about smoking.
What methods have you used to try to quit?
I've tried lots of ways: cold turkey, nicotine patch, nicotine gum, and Zyban (bupropion) both with the patch and without. I didn't like the nicotine gum very much, but this time I used nicotine lozenges, and they worked. It was still tough. I felt nervous and got headaches. But I was determined to do it this time, once and for all.
How long have you quit this time?
Since April 2006, and I haven't lapsed!
What benefits do you see from quitting?
I lowered my blood pressure, and I can exercise more. I can walk up the Metro (subway) escalator steps and just feel like I'm getting a good workout instead of gasping for breath. My family is happy, too.
Ask Your Health Professional
- What ways might help me to quit smoking?
- Should I try a quit smoking medication?
- If so, which would be best?
- What are the side effects of such medications?
- What challenges can I expect when I quit?
- How will quitting improve my health?
- What resources or programs are available?