A methodical approach
As an accountant, Ethan likes to approach life's challenges in a methodical way, and so he left the appointment armed with his new homework: to quit smoking by cutting down his cigarettes to zero using a stepwise approach4 and to reduce his alcohol consumption.
"I felt that my smoking was a social addiction and quitting was all about my own willingness and mindset. I was ready to give up smoking.
"I started by reducing the number of cigarettes I was smoking on each occasion, then I reduced the number of occasions where I smoked. I did this over about six months.
"When I hadn't had a smoke for about one month, I knew that I really didn't have an addiction any more. This was a symbol, that if I could live without cigarettes for a month, then I could maintain that for much longer."
Previously, Ethan would have a couple of alcoholic drinks three or four times a week. He gradually cut this down and now strictly limits himself to just two drinks a week.
Making simple substitutions for a cigarette, a beer or a glass of wine was helpful for Ethan: "Instead of a cigarette, I'd have a spicy snack – like chilli peanuts – and found that really helped. Instead of alcohol, I'd drink fresh fruit juice. My wife was a good support. When she went grocery shopping, she would buy me extra snacks to help."
Reaping the benefits
After being smoke-free for several months, Ethan and his wife fell pregnant with their second child, who is now three months old. "My home is smoke-free and my family won't be exposed to secondhand smoke," says Ethan.
There have been other benefits too. "I'm not as smelly, according to my wife!
"My teeth had been damaged from smoking and now they are getting whiter again7 – my dentist has told me they are slowly beginning to recover."
"By reducing the [amount of] alcohol I drink, I have also lost 5kg.8 I've taken up more exercise at night. Before bed, I do 100 sit-ups and push-ups and have become more health conscious.
"For working class people like me, the financial benefits are worth looking at. Even though it might seem small to start with, over the long-term, the savings can make a real difference."
"This isn't just for me"
Ultimately, it's Ethan's commitment to his wife and children that has kept him smoke-free: "Especially if your partner is a non-smoker, I see quitting smoking as a great way of restoring your relationship – by proving to your partner that you are able to do something for their benefit, not just for you. It also shows that you have a strong sense of family responsibility.
"It's not just about ourselves. We don't live by ourselves, so we have to think about others too. We are a family now."
Ethan is enjoying life with his young family and is committed to remaining a non-smoker. "I would absolutely hate it if my daughter grew up to be a smoker. I don’t want to set myself up as a bad example."