I was a very heavy smoker and the first time I quit cold turkey with no help or support. It lasted for 11 years! I was at the point where I hated the smell of them and never craved them.
Then I hit a VERY stressful time in my life (extremely rebellious teenage daughter), and one night when I was feeling especially stressed, I took one of my friend's cigarettes and lit it. I expected it to taste bad and make me cough, etc. like the first time I'd ever smoked. WRONG!! It tasted SO GOOD!!! I was hooked again (but I didn't admit it, even to myself). I smoked ones that I 'borrowed' from friends and relatives for a few months, then began buying them again. I tried everything to quit the second time: hypnosis, Zyban (gave me hives), patches, gum, inhaler, etc. I could not believe that I could not seem to find the will power that had worked so well the first time.
Then my daughter told me about a laser clinic that her boyfriend's mother had gone to in Canada. She was a 30 year very heavy smoker who had also tried everything to quit. The clinic worked for her. So I tried it, and it also worked for me (they claim a 96% success rate)!
Some of the advise they gave me was very helpful. They told me to drink lots of water and take anti-oxidant vitamins to help flush the nicotine out of my body. They also told me to carry a water bottle with me everywhere and every time I had a craving, to take a sip of water, so that after a few times I would associate the cigarette craving with thirst instead. This also substitutes a healthy habit for one that is bad for you. (The water has been great for low carb!)
I began low carb a month after I quit smoking, so I have not gained any weight, but I am losing very slowly. At least I am losing, though, and not gaining!
I know other people have success with patches or gum, but I think that I am the type of person who needed to just quit smoking and get the nicotine out of my body ASAP. Using patches or gum only prolonged the agony, and as long as I was getting some nicotine I was still hooked and was more likely to reach for a cigarette if I got a strong craving.
I do feel so much better! I can walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. I don't feel wheezy at night when I lay down. I haven't been getting sinus infections. And I have this wonderful feeling of freedom -- I don't have to 'go outside for a cigarette' when I'm shopping, working, visiting at a hospital, etc. I have so much more time, now that I'm not tied to that pack of cigarettes!
So, please learn from my mistake. Once you are addicted to cigarettes, no matter how long it's been since you quit, it's never safe to have even 'one drag'. You will always be an addict, and must never, ever take a single puff!
I wish success to all who are in the process of quitting -- what a wonderful Christmas gift to give yourself!