3 things I learnt when I quit smoking



As far as unhealthy habits go, smoking is near to – if not the – top of the list. But like many other vices, smoking is addictive, which can make kicking the habit a real challenge. 31-year-old Melbourne-based graphic designer RACHEL OWEN had been smoking daily for a decade when she decided she needed to make a change. Here’s how she kicked the habit for good, and what she learnt along the way.

I think all smokers want to quit. I’d been smoking for about 10 years. I wouldn’t say I was a heavy smoker – just a couple a day – but on the weekends, having drinks with friends, I could quite easily go through a packet a night. It was definitely exacerbated by drinking.

The AIA Vitality program kicked me into gear. That’s a personalised, scientifically-backed wellness program that rewards you with points for looking after your health. A few of us use it in my workplace, and it became a competition to see who could get the most points. I was losing drastically, because I was one of the only smokers in the team. They could all earn 1,000 Vitality Points for completing  the non-smokers declaration in the app and I couldn’t. So when I saw that one of AIA Vitality’s partners was Allen Carr’s Easyway program to quit smoking, I just thought ‘why not?’ I’d had hypnosis before and gone cold turkey in an attempt to quit, and neither had worked, so I was very sceptical.

The Allen Carr Easyway clinic was fantastic. I was scared going into the clinic. I almost didn’t want it to work because I thought I truly enjoyed smoking, and I’d miss never being able to smoke again if it did work. Natalie, our group’s therapist, was amazing. She was an ex-smoker, which really helped to build trust. The next five hours were really interesting. We did workshops and activities and when I left, I felt like I’d had an epiphany. I was elated walking out of it. It was life-changing. It’s been months and I haven’t touched a cigarette. Here are the top three things I learnt through quitting.


  • Quitting is entirely mental. I feel like the course worked because it rewired my brain to think differently. By the end of the day, I didn’t want to smoke – it wasn’t just because I was being told not to. For example, in one exercise, Natalie made us think about our most enjoyable cigarette. I classed myself as a social smoker, so for me, it was in the beer garden with my friends. I thought a glass of wine went hand-in-hand with a cigarette. We went outside and visualised the beer garden, but this time we had to sit and smoke in silence, without chatting. That was like a lightbulb moment. It made me realise that the part of social smoking I liked was actually the socialising, not the cigarettes.


  • There’s not a single downside to quitting. It’s had positive effects on every part of my life. I used to not exercise, and I found physical activity difficult. But since I’ve quit, I go to the gym four times a week, I take the stairs to reach my third-level apartment without huffing and puffing, and I even recently got engaged at the Grand Canyon while hiking – an activity I never thought I’d be fit enough to do. So now my fitness is better, I’m feeling heaps better, and I’m saving money from not smoking, which I can put towards my upcoming wedding.


  • No one else can take that step for you. I’d recommend the course to anyone who wants to quit. I’ve been telling all of my friends who smoke to try the program, because they keep commenting on how easy it’s seemed for me. Honestly, it is easy, and I want to say, ‘you can do it too.’ But you can’t get someone else to make that step for you, you need to do it for yourself.


(As told to Taryn Stenvei)


Want to kick unhealthy habits and get rewarded for it? Members of myOwn health insurance have access to AIA Vitality, the personalised, scientifically-backed program that supports you every day, and rewards you for making healthier lifestyle choices. Allen Carr’s Easyway program to quit smoking is an AIA Vitality partner.