On Christina Hendricks and quitting smoking

black and white photo of Christina Hendricks smoking a cigarette in bed

Article for G3 Magazine May 2011.

Mad Men is every quitter’s nightmare. Watching the ad men chink their tumblers to their success in their slick suits whilst lighting the fifth cigarette in five minutes of show time is hard. Even the bored blonde housewife taking drags from between soap-sudded Marigold gloves is enticing. A box-set binge is likely to get even the most ardent reformers twitching in the drawer for that white and gold box and freeing its gnarly prisoner. But sometimes a fag in the freezer, cryogenically frozen with ‘in case of emergency: smoke’ on it isn’t enough to keep you true. But if your willpower needs a boost there’s a cornucopia of pharmaceutical inventions to assist.

Jane McNulty, 31, has tried it all. Gum (nasty), patches (weird) and the nasal spray that induced an hour-long sneezing fit and made her eyes stream. Microtabs reduced her boyfriend to a vomiting mess after a cheeky half so she avoided those altogether. For McNulty, the Nicorette Inhalator – more commonly addressed as The Tampon due to its stubby shape and suggestive curves – has proved most effective in her battle against cigarettes. The device, affectionately referred to by McNulty as ‘dear Toots’, has ‘worked a bloody treat! It’s something for my hands to do, breathing in a mentholly hit of nicotine feels a bit like inhaling smoke, I just love it!’ She combines this with a stranger method for optimum effect: Neuro Linguistic Programming (hypnotism).

Thought Paul McKenna had retired years ago? Well he’s back swaying his pocket watch through the medium of mp3. Paul McKenna speaks with a slow, deep, almost slurring voice asking you to recall ‘a time when you had a release of endorphins. Maybe you were taking physical exercise, or making love, laughing or relaxing deeply. Remember that time now and see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. And imagine having that good feeling in future at times when you would have had a cigarette.’ It may look ridiculous written on the page but experts are pushing for hypnotism to be provided on the NHS and not just as an anti-smoking treatment, but also in the in management of pain and nausea due to its effectiveness.

McNulty explains ‘It’s really relaxing and helps you fall asleep whilst encouraging positive thinking about how good it will feel to get to one year without smoking – this was a great thought to focus on! Although he is cheesy as hell I believe it works. I feel like now I can listen to it just once and all those positive thoughts come back to me and it will help me stay strong.’ (Though she understandably avoids the even weirder instalment that instructs you to tap yourself in various places to help beat cravings.)

Whilst I can’t quite see Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks covered in patches, smoking a tampon and listening to Paul McKenna there is another alternative that is much healthier than tobacco that still allows you to live the ‘50s dream. Enter the electric cigarette; a slim black metallic cylinder that resembles a sexy pencil. The device hits the back of the throat like a normal fag but works more like a humidifier by vaporising flavoured liquid to an inhaled mist. It also has the added bonus of being a great conversation starter. Marisa Hartley-Brown, 28, a fond user of ‘Mr Cig’ states ‘I still wanted cigarettes – mainly for the taste – but it was great for cutting down and for meeting people.’ Marisa has not yet had any dates out of it but it has lead to some ‘snogs and sexy times!’ She explains ‘people have seen Mr Cig and figured it was an easy way to start up a conversation and test the water for interest.’ So head to that cocktail lounge, Martini glass in one hand, ‘Mr Cig’ in the other, and wait to be propositioned.

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