Preferably a serious one. This will mean hospitalisation, and very probably sedation of some kind. This will take you over the worst stages of the chemical withdrawal symptoms. Because you're very unlikely to get any cigarettes in the ICCU.
Better still, don't start.
1. Stop fooling yourself about the addiction.
That's the really big one; or at least it was for me. Nicotine is ferociously addictive. Period. You're a junkie. And addiction of any kind fucks with your mind. A junkie will always find reasons to continue. Plausible, perfectly respectable reasons. That is, from your point of view. They will look silly from the outside. Or the other side. Trust me on this. I see now that one of the reasons I avoided air-conditioning was that most ACed places don't let you smoke. And I mean avoiding ACs even in a Delhi summer.
There's an old Dave Barry piece about smoking that makes the point beautifully. I quote:
I mean, surely the government has better things to spend its money on. Surely the government could could have used those research funds to buy a better military toilet seat, and just asked us former smokers about nicotine vs. heroin addiction. We could have simply pointed out that, when a commercial airliner takes off, the instant the wheels leave the ground, the pilot, who you think would be busy steering or something, tells the smokers that they may light up. He does not tell the heroin addicts that they may stick their needles in themselves, does he? No he doesn't, because heroin addicts have enough self-control to survive a couple of heroin-free hours. But the pilot knows that if he doesn't let the cigarette smokers get some nicotine into themselves immediately, they will sneak off to smoke in the bathroom, possibly setting it on fire, or, if already occupied by other smokers, they will try to get out on the wing.
2. Avoid the company of smokers.
At least in the beginning. Or your addiction, revived by the siren wisps of second-hand smoke, will play silly buggers with you. You will want desperately to have that one drag, that one cigarette. Maybe you'll be able to do "just one" after a while. I wouldn't count on it.
3. Deal with it one pang at a time.
The urge to smoke doesn't usually last more than a few minutes. 15 minutes at most. Find something to do with your hands for those 15 minutes. It helps. Or just recognise the pang, acknowledge it, and deliberately think about something else. Your mind will take over and do the job for you. All hail low attention spans.
4. Plan to smoke again.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Each time you pass a cigarette shop, or get side-swiped by someone else's smoke, tell yourself that you'll buy a cigarette at the next shop. By the time you get there, the urge would have faded.
There's a variation on this, on the other end of the length-of-time spectrum, relayed to me by pal Pervin, about her dad. He told his family he'd start smoking again (he'd quit because he'd had a heart attack) once the kids had grown up and were self-sufficient.
Another addict friend gave me another variation; she tells herself she will drink again. In 2079.
My version: I will smoke again when my kids are grown up. (I don't have any. (That I know of. (Yet.))) Sounds weird, I know, but it works. Maybe it's the grin you grin to yourself, maybe the brain really is a gullible old thing, I dunno, but it works.
5. Read up about the bad effects of smoking.
Yep, all those articles you quickly flipped past over the years. Read them now. Go find more; the web is your friend. These will help you keep going, strengthen your resolve.
6. Commit yourself publicly.
Announce it to friends, the kind who you'd rather die than back down in front of.
Or blog it. :)
Note to people who know people who are in the throes of quitting.
Don't bring up the topic. Unless the quitter brings it up, don't brightly ask how the quit is going or how the pangs are being dealt with. Chances are that the very asking will cause huge, I mean fugging monstrous, gigantic, vice-like pangs. Maybe those will be the first real pangs of the day. The week even. Maybe it will stress the smoker out. maybe it will send the smoker sneaking off to smoke one and he'll feel like shit afterwards and have to claw back up yards and yards of distance lost. Or at least that's what happened to me once. So don't ask me, okay? Unless I'm all full of it, in which case let me go on for a little bit and then steer the conversation elsewhere. The steering's easy. I'm feeble-minded: I used to smoke, remember?
(Oh, and I hereby silently apologise to all the ex-smoker-now-anti-smoking-evangelist folks I've ever silently sneered at in the past. Y'know how it is: you look at this person who once bummed your smokes, who smoked everywhere, regardless of who was around (unlike virtuous you, who didn't smoke around children, old people and non-smokers in general), and who was now getting all sanctimonious about the habit. I know where you're coming from. And thank you for trying, but dudes, seriously, no one who still smokes will get it.)
I'm going to come back to this post with more about my quitting journey, maybe more tips. Or perhaps I'll make it a series. Let's see. Meanwhile, perhaps you, if you have successfully quit, want to leave some tips behind for me and posterity?