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The cost of kicking the habit

Sending the Marlboro Man packing is costly, but it's a small price to pay for your health. And, with the cost of cigarettes climbing, the price of quitting doesn't look so bad.

More than a dozen states recently raised cigarette tax rates. A pack of smokes in New York City will set you back $7. Compare that with the total cost of quitting and going smoke free is a bargain.

Here are some products to keep those nicotine fits under control.

Doin' the steps
Let's start with the easy over-the-counter methods. Nicotine patches like Nicoderm CQ and Nicotrol are some of the more popular ways to kiss your addiction good-bye. You'll be sporting a giant-sized adhesive patch as a badge of your efforts to quit, but it looks a whole lot better than a 70-year-old woman after years of smoking. These patches ooze a small amount of nicotine into your bloodstream throughout the day and reduce your cravings to bum a smoke. Nicoderm CQ sells patches at three different dosage levels (21 mg, 14 mg and 7 mg) that let you gradually cut back.

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A week's worth of patches cost around $25.99 and it can take up to 10 weeks to be smoke free. One thing the package needs is some adhesive remover to get that gum off of your skin.

Champing at the bit
"If you want to control the amount of nicotine you use or if having something to chew will help you occupy the time you once spent smoking you may prefer this method," according to the Nicorette Web site referring to nicotine gum. Available over the counter in 2 mg and 4 mg pieces, you can beat the cravings as they come, which puts you in control of your habit. A 48 piece pack of 2 mg pieces is about $29.99, and a 108 piece pack of 4 mg around $54.99.

Jagged little pill
If you enlist your doctor's help while quitting, he or she may give you a prescription for Zyban. Zyban is the first prescription available in a pill form to help in "smoking cessation." The manufacturer says it takes about two weeks to notice a difference in nicotine craving. For best results, the pills should be continued for about seven to 12 weeks. A month's supply costs about $115.

Mind over matter
If you want to take the lazy way out and depend on your subconscious, try hypnotherapy. This relaxing procedure may take only one or two visits and most treatments can work immediately, say the hypnotherapists. Melissa Roth of Alabama Hypnotherapy Center says that her $250 Smoking Cessation is a three-session package. She tapes the hypnotic portion of each session and gives the clients the tapes to play for themselves as reinforcement. She also claims that her clients do not gain weight, suffer withdrawal symptoms or have cravings which last longer than a maximum of 20 minutes.

On the cheaper side, you can buy self-help tapes/CDs such as An Audio Journey to Stop Smoking, by MacTavish Williamson, and Quit Smoking Auto-matically, by Bob and Deirdre Griswold, for under $20.

Ancient Chinese Secret
If you can relax enough to have dozens of pins inserted all over your body, acupuncture is a possible solution for you. Using this Far East procedure could take up to 10 sessions depending on your age and the number of cigarettes you smoke a day, says David Molony, founder of the American Association of Oriental Medicine in Washington, D.C. The average smoker will succeed after three sessions, says Monlony who charges $60 a session.

Other alternatives
Everybody has a suggestion to help you quit, and there are a lot of gimmicks out there designed to cull your cash such as "No Smoke," a software program to guide you through the quitting process for $19.95, "One Step at a Time," a cigarette modification that pokes holes in your filters to reduce the amount of nicotine getting to your system for $19.99, or "E-Z Quit," smokeless cigarettes that you don't light, but rather give you the comfort of having the cigarette in your hand for $12.95.

Talkin' Turkey
If you are choking on all of these prices, there is always cold turkey. Toss those cigs and start fresh. It's free. You can also check out for free online education, skills development, counseling and a list of group support sites.

Remember a pack-a-day habit can easily cost you $1,500 a year. Just think of all the other vices you can take up with that extra money.

The cost of kicking the habit
Product Price Available at
Patches Nicoderm CQ
(Step 1)
$25.99 -- $29.99
7 patches
Eckerd, Walgreens and other pharmacies

(Step 1)

7 patches
Walgreens and other pharmacies
Gum Nicorette $26.99 -- $29.99
48 pieces (2 mg)
Eckerd, Walgreens and other pharmacies
Pills Zyban $114.99
60 pills (1 month supply)
Prescription only
Acupuncture $60-70 per visit
(may take up to 10 visits)
American Association of Oriental Medicine
Washington, D.C.

3 sessions/tapes

Alabama Hypnotherapy Center
Birmingham, Alabama
Self-help audio tapes/CDs An Audio Journey into Stop Smoking, by MacTavish Williamson, $19.99
Quit Smoking Auto-matically by Bob and Deirdre Griswold $11.97 The Quit Smoking Company
Alpharetta, Georgia
Others E-Z QUIT smokeless cigarettes $12.95
3 cartridges (45-day supply)
One Step at a Time
cigarette modification (filter)
4 filters
Quit smoking software $19.95
Cold Turkey Free Anywhere


-- Updated: Jan. 6, 2003


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