Gina Vaynshteyn
July 09, 2013 2:00 pm

Researchers at Stirling University in the UK have been testing out talking cigarette cartons with voice recordings that activate once the pack is opened. They created two uniquely recorded messages – one that offers a phone number for those who want to quit smoking, and one that informs the smoker that smoking cigarettes reduces fertility. So far, the talking cartons have only been tested on women between the ages of 16 and 24. Think of these like those annoying birthday cards that play ’80s music whenever they’re opened. Except these recordings are anything but jovial, and that’s probably a good thing. If every single cigarette carton played a recorded warning message, this could very well reduce the amount of smokers.

Or it could force them to invest in a cigarette case. I smoked when I was in college. My roommate smoked, almost every single guy I dated smoked, and even my parents smoked when they were younger, so I justified my habit with, “Well, I’ll quit when I’m in my twenties” and I actually did. Eventually, I became annoyed with how smoking made me feel (lethargic ALL the time) and I hated the way my fingers and hair smelled after going outside and having a cigarette.  After you graduate college, smoking just isn’t as romanticized anymore. You have to hide it from your family, your boss, your non-smoking friends. I didn’t want to be labeled as a smoker, and most importantly, I didn’t ever want a bad habit to consume me. Because truth be told, I have enough bad habits as it is. I was done.

Truthfully, and retrospectively, I wouldn’t have quit smoking in college if I bought a pack of cigarettes and the programmed voice of reason informed me this was a damaging habit. All smokers understand that cigarettes are bad for you, just like how alcoholics understand liquor will eventually kill your liver, or how binge eaters understand they should be eating smaller portions. Addicts completely understand. It’s not the issue of understanding, it’s the issue of breaking the habit. To quit something that’s slowly killing you, you have to want to quit. On the other hand, if it’s a child who is opening a pack of cigarettes they’ve illegally obtained, this blunt tactic might work. Kids who haven’t developed the habit yet or completely might be more susceptible to the harsh reality of smoking.

But so many young adults think they are invincible. When I was 18, I rolled my eyes at every anti-smoking ad because I thought my young and able body would rejuvenate after years of smoking. Which may or may not be true, but my attitude towards smoking was so blase, it was scary.  I didn’t want to worry about the harmful effects of smoking, so I didn’t.

Once people do get hooked, they’re afraid of quitting because of potential weight gain or just not knowing what to do besides smoke.  If this is you, drop those fears and think about the positives. You’ll feel more energetic immediately. You’ll be able to take fuller breaths. Your car and clothes won’t smell like ashtrays anymore. You’ll save a ton of money each week. Even if you’re only buying two packs a week, that’s almost $50 a month.  Save it or go buy yourself something from Sephora.

I’ve had friends get hypnotized and they didn’t smoke for months (until they went drinking at a bar, dun dun DUN), friends who have quit because they moved back home and their parents would freak out if they knew, friends who simply vowed to become healthier and dropped the habit the hard way, friends who substituted cigarettes with an e-cigarette, nicotine gum or the patch.  I’ve even had friends who have their doctors prescribe them certain anti-depressants that seem to curb nicotine cravings tremendously. This last one is definitely something you should talk to your doctor about, since I only know about it second-hand, and I’m totally not qualified to tell you to sign yourself up for prescription drugs.

Other tips and tricks including finding a new fixation for your mouth (I know that sounds totally dirty), something that is healthier and easier on your body. You could try gum, fruit leather, or nuts. You could free-write or draw in a journal whenever you really want a cigarette. According to Reader’s Digest, brewing a cup of herbal tea when you would usually have a cigarette provides the same stress relief as a hit of nicotine. If your insurance covers it, make an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist – auricular acupuncture has been shown to reduce cigarette cravings. A homeopathic remedy that has been allegedly successful is called Avena sativa extract. A dose of 1 milliliters, four times a day has helped people stop smoking by slowly diminishing the need for a cigarette.  Lastly, make a list. Write down at least ten reasons why you want to quit smoking, and hang it somewhere you will see everyday, like your laptop or coffeemaker.

There are boundless ways to quit smoking, and every single one of them is difficult. The most important part of your journey, is that you want to quit. Quit for yourself, not somebody else. Listen to the voice inside your head, not a carton of cigarettes. You will find that the former is much more credible than you thought.

Featured image via Shutterstock

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