What it Means to Be an Ex-Smoker

Are you powerful enough to quit smoking? Yes, of course you are! But unless you believe you have that power, you may find yourself trying and failing to quit over and over again.

One of the most important steps toward successfully quitting smoking is believing you have the ability to do so. But to believe it, you must see it. You must be able to visualize yourself successfully quitting, and living the life of an ex-smoker.

In a previous issue of The Quit Smoking Report I asked readers to send in a one-paragraph statement of “What it Means to Be an Ex-Smoker.” So many people sent in their “visions”, and I will share some of the best here. Space doesn’t permit all of them to appear here, so I’ve put all of the entries on our web site. Be sure to read them all. Then take just five minutes to write down YOUR vision of what it means to be an ex-smoker. Read it at least three times per day and begin to believe that you are living that life.

Hi everyone. Ah, to be an ex smoker. It means freedom from bondage. I was a slave to cigarettes. It means fresher breath, more money, dating non smokers, no more hacking, a cleaner smelling home and car. The greatest advantage will be a longer life, and my small children will no longer have to breathe in second hand smoke.
Cindy Murphy

What not smoking means to me is freedom. I don’t have to stop what I am doing to have a cigarette. I don’t have to stand out in the cold on my break to smoke. I can sit and watch a movie without thinking “I can’t wait til this movie is over so I can go out and have a cigarette.” I have control of my life now not the cigarettes. I can go anywhere I want and not have to worry that it is non smoking. it feels good to be free from cigarettes.
Wanda Young

What it means to be an ex-smoker…it means the world to me!! I feel healthier than I have in a long time…just the thought that I control my life now is great!!!!!!!!! I no longer have to answer to a cigarette/nicotine. I no longer have the ‘smoker’ smell lingering around me. I no longer have to take breaks outside during work because I need a fix. I’m no longer tied to a death stick. What more can you ask for!!!!
Michelle Kopidlansky

Being an ex-smoker means freedom. An ex-smoker has the freedom to sit through a three-hour movie without having to leave for a smoke. An ex-smoker has the freedom to leave the house without worrying that they do not have enough smokes to last the day. An ex-smoker has the freedom to attend any function they wish without wondering how long they will have to go without a smoke, or how they can slip away for a quick smoke. All the little fears and stressors associated with smoking are gone. No longer do the cravings start shortly after the last smoke is put out. No longer does the ex-smoker have to stand out side in the rain, subzero temperatures, or other inclement weather every hour to feed the addiction. Walking into a restaurant becomes a pleasure as the ex-smoker proudly asks for a table in the non-smoking area. The ex-smoker is free of the guilt that is associated with smoking. Most of all the ex-smoker is free to celebrate life, and to experience all that life has to offer without being subject to a small tube of tobacco.
Mike Lingrell

It means I’ll be able to see my children grow up and have money for food , utilities, cookouts etc.

I’m happy to tell you what it means to me to be an ex-smoker. First, it means there is no more smelly house, clothes, hair and car. My Husband LIKES to kiss me now. It means I have a better chance to see my Grandson grow up. It means I wake up in the morning without the cough to jump start my lungs. It means IF I get a cold, it doesn’t last as long as when I smoked. It means, I saved enough money to take my Hubby to Florida on vacation. It means food tastes better. And last but not least, I have been able to help other smokers who want to quit, with advice and support. On Aug. 31st, I’ll celebrate my first of many years, smoke free!!
Sandi Kennedy


  • from not constantly checking before I do ANYTHING to make sure I have my “Security Butts” with me.
  • from that awful odor when I get into my car or go into the closed-up house and that dead smoke/cigarette odor hits me.
  • from that constant cough and throat clearing.
  • from spending my last 3 - 4 dollars before payday on something that makes me ill, makes me smell bad and uses money I could be doing something productive with (can save myself a minimum of $1266/year)

Judith Morrison

To be an ex-smoker means that you feel in control of your life again, with each passing day you feel this strength growing inside you because you did it, you finally did it. It means that your clothes don’t smell anymore, your fingers are not yellow, your friends don’t leave the table as they used to do when you reached for a cigarette, you don’t have to have a constant supply of mints and breath freshener in your bag, the ashtray in your car looks unused, you don’t accidentally make holes in your sofa or carpet anymore. And believe it or not my cat used to leave the room every time I smoked. He cuddles up with me now and just for that it is great to be an ex-smoker.
Mayca Estevez

To be an ex-smoker is to accelerate a natural function. All smokers WILL QUIT. That is a known fact. Sooner or later, all smokers WILL QUIT. Those that wait until they are deathly ill, or wait until they stop breathing surely wish they had quit earlier. For me, being an ex-smoker means that I’ve taken control of that part of my life. I made a choice to stop smoking—just as I had chosen to start smoking—just as I had chosen to addict myself to smoking. I’ve made that vital change in my life. We all will be ex-smokers someday. Being an ex-smoker today is frankly just better than waiting until tomorrow.
Curtis Sieber

Being an ex-smoker means better sleep, more money and not feeling embarrassed when I smoked because of people making faces. It means a clean house for me, better smelling clothes and body. Not smoking also means spending time with my family and all of us, including me, being smoke free and much healthier and happier.
Laura Kent

It has been great for me. I love the total freedom of not worrying about when can I have the next one and just working my schedule around them. I still have my good and bad days but I am so glad that I have done this for myself and for my family. If anyone out there is having problems with their quit just remember that you can do it you have the strength within you to defeat it. It is a terrible addiction and you can overcome it and it has such wonderful rewards.
Cindy Kern

My husband and I quit smoking two months ago. We both used Wellbutrin, and it was easier to stop. What it means to us is not being a slave to the smoke. We always went outside to smoke, and it seems that we were always outside. It’s amazing how much time we have now for other things. Let’s not forget to mention the money we’ve saved ($300 in just two months). After smoking for 35 years, and after numerous times trying to quit, I think we’ll stick with it this time. To anyone trying to quit, stick with it. It takes time, and with time it does get easier. You deserve a lot of credit for the effort. It truly is a hard thing to do, but well worth the benefits.
Annie W.

Having quit smoking I save £4 on a pack a day as I live in the UK. Having quit smoking I know what my food really tastes like. Having quit smoking I climb stairs without puffing and panting. Having quit smoking my clothes no longer smell. Having quit smoking I gave the practice nurse at the doctor’s office print outs of quitsmoking.com so I am now helping others quit and passing the word about the website. Thanks again. (Seven months coming up 7/27/2000)

What it means to me to be an exsmoker is “life”, I nearly killed myself smoking, I was really sick with cancer, very depressed, my life was going nowhere, I wanted to die. My children talked me into having surgery and radiation, after that I went to support groups, and started my tobacco prevention program, So “life” is what being an exsmoker means to me, life is so precious.
Marlene E. Snider

Freedom is a very good word to describe how I feel. I no longer have to worry about going someplace and when/where I will smoke. I feel free to go anywhere I want. My self-esteem has also improved. I no longer feel like a “second-class citizen” because I’m a smoker. I don’t get dirty looks from non-smokers anymore. I also feel better about my health. I am watching my mother slowly decline; she smokes about 2 packs per day. I decided that I did not want to end up like her. I enjoy exercising and I would not feel vital if I could no longer do that. So I take each day as it comes and every day that I do not smoke I thank God for giving me the strength to quit.
Amy Szoszorek

On April 24th of 1999 I really and truly quit. Now I not only don’t stink, I realize that I did. I’m not wasting peoples time by making them wait while I dart off to have a cigarette. I don’t have to worry about the price of cigarettes. I don’t have to run out late at night and put myself in danger just because I forgot to pick up cigarettes and I’m out. I can run more than a block without sinking to my knees. I can brag that no one in my family smokes. I can say (smugly or otherwise) when asked for a light, “Sorry, I don’t smoke.” I can be proud of myself.

It means no burns on my clothes, no ashes falling on my floor or into my lap, being able to breathe when I go up stairs, clothes not smelling like “old butts”, not worrying about polluting my grandchildren’s bodies, not coughing a lung out when I wake up in the morning, not hurrying out of a “no-smoking” establishment to grab a puff as soon as I get outside the door, and not cleaning over-full ashtrays. My quit day is July 17. I’m hoping remembering all these things eases some of the discomfort.

Quitting smoking is the one thing in my life I can be very proud of. It has been the hardest thing. My slip ups are hard on me and my children. But they are few. When I look back at the last 30 years smoking, I know if I quit, I can have the possibility of looking at the next 30 years. Thank you for your newsletters!

Hello. Today is July 13 and I have been a non-smoker now for 36 days. This is my 4th attempt and I believe that I am going to make it. Since June 6, I have been hiking/running with my father-in-law, and mountain biking with my father to curb my cravings, although I don’t physically feel the need to smoke, sometimes it just feels odd to not have a lung-rocket hanging from my lips. I feel more alive now, I enjoy pushing my body to being physically fit again. It seems as if I am tasting food for the first time, I can smell the flowers again. I have more energy every day. But the best part of being a non-smoker is looking into my boys’ eyes (ages 4 and 6) and knowing that I am no longer harming them, and knowing that they recognize that I am no longer harming myself either. Good luck to all of you.
Jesse Forand

Fred, you asked me to tell you what not smoking means to me? It means I now have choices. I smoked for over 40-years, up to three packs a day. Yesterday I celebrated my 55th birthday, and I will always be a smoker. The difference now is I take it one day at a time. Next month in August, it will be two years choosing not to smoke one day at a time. When you choose, you are the one in control. It is wonderful.
Thanks for being there for me,
Bev Oros

What it means to me to quite smoking….....not having to use my inhaler/nebulizer as often. Not scrounging around enough money to buy another pack when I can’t even afford to pay all my rent. Not having to leave any building when I wanted to smoke. Actually the cigarette smokes, I was just the sucker on the end of it. I’m on day five without a smoke. So far, so good. I can do this.

If I can be an ex-smoker it would mean I could be proud of me for accomplishing what I know to be a very difficult taks. It would mean I could breathe through my nose again. It would mean my children wouldn’t run from the room or roll down the car windows when I “lite up”. Most importantly, it would mean I have regained control of my life and given myself a better chance to live a longer, healthier life. Of course, I’d have to figure out what to do with the money I’d be saving but I’m sure I could figure out something.
Karen N.

Quitting smoking means to me that I will be creating a better life for my children and a better role model, they are still young so they will hopefully not follow my horrible example. I also means that I will be able to have more energy to want to play with them and have more money to buy them things and maybe even have enough left over for me, But I want to be the best mother in the world to my children, and as a smoker I couldn’t be that person, not with out putting there health in danger, what kind of mother have I been to them, It would mean the world to my children to provide them with safer and better air to breathe. My quit date is July 15, 2000, and I can do it, I believe in ME!
April Anderson

Being smoke-free means I can enter a roomful of people and not be constantly sniffling or clearing my throat or coughing. I can relax, breathe deep and enjoy whatever I’m doing without the cloud of smoke, or needing a smoke. I feel clean and calm and much more alive!
Ruby Tuesday

What it means to me to be an ex-smoker? I have alot more money for food! HAHAHA! Actually at the end of the day I don’t feel like I have run a marathon and can breath clearly! Thanks for the support! Keep up the good work! I know I need it!
Jenifer Emt

What it means to quit smoking is to be able to breathe and maybe my health will improve to the point that I can enjoy life again. Maybe I won’t wake up (or be afraid to go to sleep) gasping for air. Maybe I will be able to stop wondering when the next emergency room visit will be. Maybe I can go off all the medicine that keeps me breathing and then I can lose the weight I gained from it. It means that maybe I will have my life back.
Rose Stegenga (Recently quit)

This may sound a bit racy, but one of the benefits of quitting smoking for men AND women is increased enjoyment of sex. Much of our sexual function relies on good circulation- our genitals engorge with blood when we are aroused. Many male smokers have erectile dysfunction because of their smoking. Both genders will experience enhanced sexual functioning on a purely physical level. In addition, waking up earlier with more energy, something that happens to a lot of people who quit smoking, creates new opportunities for amorous activity. Your breath smells great, your skin glows, you have increased cardiovascular functioning for vigorous activity. Being a lover is a great way to work off some of that nervous tension that occurs from withdrawal. To me, being a nonsmoker means being a better lover.
Sonya Thompson

Ahh…..what it means to me to be a non-smoker. I smell better. I can stand close to someone without being ashamed of smelling like smoke or having them move farther away from me. I look better. My skin has a cleaner, pinker look and the wrinkles seem to be going away. I am free-er. I don’t have that panic feeling that I used to get when I was down to my last 2 or 3 cigarettes or have to run to the liquor store at midnite so I’ll have a cigarette when I wake up. I can breathe. It feels so good to take a deep breath without wheezing. Or having cough fits…Yecht….. I have more money. When I go to the store and see a pack of cigs for $3.50 per pack. I buy myself some flowers and enjoy their fragrance and beauty and think of how proud I am of Me. I quit smoking Christmas ‘98 after smoking for over 40 years. I love myself. My diet is getting better and I take better care of myself because I’m worth it!!
Jane wink

Hi This must be the umpteenth time I tried. I have been on the habit for more than 25 years. I tried everything. This time I went cold turkey. First three days was hellish, but I persisted. I was having headaches, irritable and miserable. Thanks goodness I was on holiday with a group of non smokers, that helped tremendously. Its been a year now. I feel good. I smell better and have more stamina. I put on five kilos but have shed it since. Its been a waste of money not to mention at the expense of my lungs. I get bronchitis in cold climates. Seek divine help and have a personal mentor or coach. It helps.
God Bless.
Victor Tng

I stopped smoking and started living a year and 4 months ago. I’m very, very happy that I have been able to make other habits, healthier and more positive ones, that haven’t replaced smoking, but have enriched my life. The quit smoking web site, e-letter and stories have helped tremendously. Thank you.
Dan Henegan

If I don’t quit now I will have to be hooked up to an oxygen tank for the rest of my life.
Richard J. Denney

I am a 25 year old woman who had been smoking a pack a day for a little over 8 years until about 2 months ago.  I loved smoking.  It had become part of my personality over the years.  The reason I quit was that I had a series of horrible and graphic dreams that I was in the final stages of lung cancer. I was in a cold ugly hospital room and I was bald, pale, terribly skinny, vomiting, gasping for breath, and in great, great pain.  I saw all of my family around me crying.  The dreams went on this way for what seemed forever.  When I awoke, I threw away my cigarettes and vowed to always hold those dreams close to me as a reminder of what would happen to me if I started up again.  I haven’t smoked since.  It hasn’t been easy, but it really hasn’t been as hard as I originally thought.  So, I guess what it means to be an ex-smoker for me is peace of mind.
Nicole Barker

I am a smoker who chooses not to smoke,Oct.2 7:00 pm 1989 I made the commitment to myself. I used nicorette gum to help me in my fight, I still use it to this day long ago I reduced the use somewhat by cutting it in 4 pieces and adding a small piece of sugarless gum. It helps me to keep on top of the fight. I am angry to the bone with the tobacco company that invaded my young body and MIND with such a lethal substance, it has influenced my entire life in a negative way. I am 60 years old now and still addicted but I am winning the fight.
Jo Ann Bethea-Core

In August, I will be smoke free for one year after 40 years of smoking (up to 3 packs a day).  For the most part, I don’t miss it.  Once in a while I do…like when I lost my job last November and again this June. But I have stayed strong thanks to people like Fred Kelly and his great newsletters.  Incidentally I quit cold turkey because I am allergic to so many things.  But it can be done.  It means I am a strong person and it also means I am not alone out there.  There are many others who have done it and continue to do so.  Please keep up the great work Fred. Thanks again

My husband & I quit smoking together last Nov..  We decided to quit using Zyban as we didn’t trust our own will power.  The actual quitting takes about 2 weeks(we figure).  The physical withdrawal is only a few days at worst but the body goes through SO MUCH cleaning up that it feels like a couple of weeks before the body settles into the new routines.  At first, we thought of smoking all the time(more him than me) and had vivd dreams of everybody smoking, including young children!  My like dreams have stopped and my cravings have turned to disgust of the whole habit but because it’s been so long, I totally sympathize with those trying to quit because I know how badly they want to and I keep encouraging them without pestering them.
Leslie Skelton

Want to add your one-paragraph explanation of “What it Means to Be an Ex-Smoker”? Just email it to whatitmeans@quitsmoking.com

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