It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes is addictive. According to the CDC, more than 42 million American adults are smokers, which is just over 18% of the population over 18. What’s more alarming is the damage caused by smoking: over 5 million deaths a year worldwide are the result of tobacco use, with 480,000 of them being in the US. Smokers (and the people who live with them) are at risk for numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and diabetes, to name a few. Most people are not unaware of the potential consequences of tobacco use, but the addiction is so strong that they continue to use tobacco products anyway. My husband was among these people, coming from a family of smokers. When we moved from New Jersey to Louisiana, the habit only got worse as cigarettes were significantly cheaper and you could still smoke in many of the public places where smoking had been prohibited in New Jersey. He went from a few cigarettes a day to half a pack or more.
Having asthma myself, I had quit smoking years ago for my health, and it had been as simple as stopping. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms peak in the first three days, and I was fortunate that I suffered little when I finally decided to quit. My experience is far from typical, though. For most people, trying to quit smoking is an uphill battle-like Sisyphus pushing that cursed rock up the mountain. The market is saturated with smoking cessation aids-gums, patches, pills and the like, most of which aren’t any cheaper than the habit you’re trying to break, and in the case of medications like Chantix, they come with myriad unpleasant side effects. Having been a smoker myself, I was sympathetic to my husband’s addiction, but I didn’t like it. I begged him to stop smoking, for his own health and for mine as well. He tried to several times, unsuccessfully. For him, it wasn’t as simple as cutting back and eventually stopping, especially not when many of the people around him who smoked had no interest in quitting. In the end, it wasn’t an expensive smoking cessation product that finally got my husband to quit-it was the Old Farmer’s Almanac and an electronic cigarette.
How could a book about the weather and farming help someone stop smoking? It’s a good question, for sure. The short answer is that the Almanac is a lot more than just a simple weather and garden guide. If you thumb through the Almanac, you’ll find stories, recipes, anecdotes, kitchen tips, and much more. Among these is a page of the Best Days for the year, outlining what days are best to start projects, begin a diet, slaughter animals, get a haircut, and yes, quit smoking as well. We consulted the Almanac, looked up the best day to quit smoking that month, and bought my husband an ecigarette. In the past, he had tried using an ecig, but found that he still craved regular cigarettes. This time though, he quit smoking on the prescribed day and only used the ecig when his cravings were their worst. If other people invited him to smoke, he’d use his ecig instead. A few days smoke-free turned into a week, and his cravings were decreasing. A week quickly turned into a month, and soon, he wasn’t using the ecig at all. At work, he’d proudly tell his customers how he had quit smoking, and when they asked him how he’d point them to the Almanac.
Nothing else had worked for him, but something in those secret formulas must have made the difference. As of now, my husband has been smoke free for over two years, thanks to the Almanac. Now, whenever we have something that needs to be accomplished, we always check the trusty list of Best Days. So far, it has served us well.