I’ve long tried to quit smoking. Now, thanks to Allen Carr, I actually have

I have dedicated a lot of time to giving up smoking. I have attempted pretty much everything: cold turkey, nicotine gum and patches, ‘reduced risk’ cigarettes, taking deep breaths until I have collapsed… you name it, I’ve tried it.

So when a copy of Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking landed on my desk — a present, I am informed, from a concerned sister — I thought, with zero confidence, that I may as well give it a whirl.

Its approach is old-fashioned compared to all the other solutions the marvels of modern medicine have churned out. The method is quite simple: read the book, and continue to smoke (hallelujah) while reading the book. Why? Carr believes that telling smokers to cease immediately will only increase anxiety and drive them back to the cigarettes. His Easy Way instead unpicks common misperceptions associated with smoking, allowing the reader to consider the case before coming to his or her own conclusions.

Miraculously, it seems to have worked.

I don’t want to be sanctimonious. I love nothing more than the smell of a cigarette (Allen Carr discourages this — more on that later). I enthusiastically encourage smoking in my home and have an intense dislike for the pious pontifications rammed down our blackened throats from the Powers That Be, denouncing the evils of our so-called filthy habit.

Carr, a former accountant who got through over 100 cigarettes a day for over three decades, explains to the reader that one does not actually gain anything from smoking. Smoking simply satiates the addiction’s desire to feed itself. The addiction to nicotine is personified as a monster with a voice, which sounds like complete fantastical madness, but halfway through reading the book the voice starts to become recognisable — in one’s own itch for delicious Camel Blue.

Carr explains that the comfort the smoker experiences when smoking is just how non-smokers feel all the time. Giving up smoking is therefore described as a liberation from slavery rather than a hopeless slog that will make us irritable, fat and generally unpleasant.

The book explains that actual nicotine withdrawal only lasts three days, so from then on any pangs of desire for a cigarette are habitual rather than physical. Carr encourages the reader to launch himself into social occasions, drinking and partying. ‘Go out and enjoy yourself straight away. You do not need cigarettes even while you are still addicted to nicotine. Go to a party, and rejoice in the fact that you do not have to smoke.’ Similarly, Carr addresses the illusion that giving up smoking is linked to weight gain: ‘The weight myth is due to using substitutes during the withdrawal period [such as snacks]. In fact, they do not make it easier to stop. They make it harder.’ Carr therefore systematically rejects all of the myths and illusions that sustain the culture of smoking.

And it’s true. Stopping smoking has not been nearly as traumatic as I feared. Carr’s instruction is that I should tell myself, and you, that I am a non-smoker. I can’t quite buy into this. And I don’t pity all smokers, as Carr advises. But for now, three weeks in, the Easy Way appears to be working. The question of for how long remains to be seen.

  • Jack Rocks

    Didn’t Carr start smoking again? I read his book by the way. I didn’t work for me.

    • John Dicey

      No Jack – he didn’t. And several people have been sued for suggesting that he did 🙂

      I’m really sorry to hear that the book didn’t work for you – If you’d like some advice on how to read the book again (with success this time) do use the CONTACT IS facility on http://www.allencarr.com

      Best wishes
      John at Allen Carr

      • Jack Rocks

        Was that a threat? You people are worse than Scientologists.

        • John Dicey

          Wow Jack – no it wasn’t a threat – it was a statement of fact presented in what was intended to be a light-hearted way (smiley face).

          The amazing thing about people who make snide comments is how incredibly sensitive they are when they are gently corrected. The offer of support still stands of course.

          • Jack Rocks

            Ok, my apologies. After a long day at work, I like to come home and punch my keyboard.

        • lolexplosm

          I read that as very passive aggressive too. A simple denial or refutation would have been better than “no and people have been sued before for it”. A smiley face doesn’t really change anything in my opinion.

          I’m also suprised at the answer to your “it didn’t work for me” was “read it again” and ” you’re not doing it right” as if this method is flawless and any failures are obviously your fault and not of the book. Something like this is a typical hallmark of quacks. 🙂

          I’m sure the book is useful to the vast majority who read it though.

        • Vena A Quilan

          Sorry, but I must jump in this conversation Jack 🙂 I will be eternally grateful for the program actually saving my life. I used this program and am now a NON Smoker yippee. I have read so much literature on Allen and am only sorry I will never have the opportunity to meet him. He is truly a good man and does really care about folks. Read his history you will be pleasantly surprised. The staff are so wonderful. You can find the support group on Facebook where you will gain new friends and a wonderful support system. Allen Carr staff also offer support for those in need. Also, maybe try the book again, I have seen where some read it more than once before they were successful. Wishing you the best!!

  • John Dicey

    Hi Constance, congratulations on being a happy non-smoker. It’s wonderful to hear that you are free.

    You’re quite right, I often used to encourage Allen to refer to feeling compassion for smokers rather than pity – in truth I’m sure that’s what he meant.

    If you ever have any concerns or questions about smoking or if you ever feel your mind drifting back to your old way of thinking please do get in touch.

    And please don’t worry that you like the smell of cigarettes still – I quit with the method nearly 20 years ago and have always liked he smell. Mind you – it certainly doesn’t mean I want to smoke…in the same way as I (weirdly) love the smell of petrol – but I’d never wear if as aftershave or hang around in petrol stations 🙂

    Anyway – it was great to read about your freedom.

    Best wishes
    John Dicey
    Worldwide CEO & Senior Therapist
    Allen Carr’s Easyway

  • Chrismanchester

    I stopped a 30/day habit using Carr’s method in 1999, but only on the second reading. The first time around I stopped for about 3 months and then restarted. I was gutted, but went straight back to the book. I realised that I hadn’t fully taken on board the part of the book that addresses stress and smoking. Once I read it again with full concentration there was no problem. I would urge anyone who hasn’t succeeded on the first attempt to read it a second, third, tenth time. It will work! I have been smoke free for 17 years without any pangs or use of will power. (As an aside, I can also recommend his method for alcohol too – stopped drinking in 2004, which opened up a whole new lease of life).

  • The Reincarnated Sausage

    Stopping smoking is easy

    It’s deciding that you don’t want to be a smoker anymore that’s the hard bit. It took me 30 years.

    I never read Carr’s book. I just decided one day I didn’t want to be a smoker anymore. I had a couple of hiccups on the way but I’ve been off the devil’s pubic hair for over a year now. I never bothered with nicotine replacement methods. You’ve got to go cold turkey. It’s the only way……and if you really don’t want to smoke anymore…..you won’t

  • Pete

    I’ve been vaping since October last year and am now in the relaxed process of giving that up as well.
    I couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without smoking but can go most of the day without vaping. Instead of going cold turkey I’ve reduced the strength of the oil from 18mg to 11mg and occasionally leave home without it.
    Here’s the rub, there has been NO trauma and very little effort with this method. I’ve picked an upcoming hospital stay as the time where I just do without it altogether.
    I think one of the keys to giving up successfully is not to beat yourself up over it and just reduce in a casual way.

    Also I can now have my medical procedure because my heart rate and blood pressure are now within normal levels and I’ve gone from an £80 a week habit to less than £8 a week.

    Just wanted people to know that it’s also possible to give up smoking without having to spend more money.

    • sfin


    • post_x_it

      Great to hear your story, but I’m not sure if your comment about “spending more money” applies here. The Allen Carr book is £6.99 on Amazon, and many copies are available for free from readers who no longer need them.

      • Pete

        Sorry, was being to broad there.
        I was generally referring to hypnotherapy or therapy sessions or the innumerable amount of potions and patches as ascribed by many other books including expensive dietary changes etc etc.
        The method I have chosen is just a fraction of the cost of smoking and is a bit of a winner for me.

  • rbw152

    As an ex-smoker (gave up in 1986, one of the best things I ever did after having smoked since I was twelve), I would just like to say that even so, I completely respect the right of an individual to smoke if they want to. Go for it. Enjoy yourself and your freedom to do so.

    The idea of the state telling you what legal pleasures you can or cannot enjoy is chilling. It’s a bit Soviet in my opinion.

    So when Brighton council tried to stop people from smoking on the beach – on the beach ferchrissakes, outside in the open air where no harm could be done to anyone else at all – there was such a backlash they relented and rightly so.

    Imagine trying to police such a ban. It would be by far the most unpleasant aspect of smoking on the bloody beach!

    • post_x_it

      I imagine this was more to do with fag butts being discarded on the beach, than on actual health grounds. But then we’re talking about Brighton, so what do I know.

      • R Craven

        Brighton? Fag butts? Oh dear!

  • JSC

    I recently quit smoking (4 months clean of the demon weed, booya!) and I also read Carr’s book and found it to be very helpful at putting things into perspective and getting yourself into the right frame of mind to do so. Ultimately you have to be motivated to do so, or you’ll quite happily smoke yourself into the grave. For me it took some serious thinking about my six year old son: did I want to be dead before he left school? Because that’s where I was headed if I continued with the cancer sticks. Time to stub it out methinks, long over due in fact. 🙂

  • R Craven

    On the 18th of February 2009, I decided to think of tobacco as utterly disgusting, and I haven’t touched it since.

  • Eleanor

    I had to take a double take then and wondered what Alan Carr had to do with quitting smoking haha. This sounds like a great read, I will need to recommend this to my friend who has tried everything to quit but hasn’t quite succeeded yet. It’s nice to read an article that has benefitted someone and is actually seeing result which will hopefully help encourage people on the right track to quitting. Although I’m not a smoker myself, passive smoking is also an issue! I also found this article on quitting smoking that people may find useful. It’s worth reading if anyone is interested – https://onlinepharmacyuk.co.uk/health-and-wellbeing-en/quitting-smoking-exploring-the-options/