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Say goodbye forever: Write a “Dear John” letter to your cigarettes

Say goodbye to smoking by writing a "dear John" letter

Do you feel like you have a “relationship” with your cigarettes? A lot of smokers do. It is common for smokers to describe cigarettes this way:

  • They’re like my little friend.
  • They’re my little buddy, always with me on my breaks.
  • I can always call on them, when I’m bored and alone, and they’ll be there to help me pass the time.
  • I just feel more comfortable when they are around. I feel alone without them.
  • My cigarettes are like that friend who lifts your mood when the day’s drudgery is over.
  • Cigarettes have been a part of my life since before my kids were born. They were a part of my life before I ever met my spouse.
  • Of all my friends, my cigarettes are the most reliable. They are always there for me.
  • They help calm my nerves when I’m upset. That’s what a friend is for.

As you can see, asking someone to stop smoking might be like asking them to give up on something valuable to them. But deep down, most smokers realize that this is a bad relationship. Bad relationships are not easy to end, especially long-standing ones. They are complicated. But it can be done, and people are almost always better off in the long run, despite the difficult period associated with a break-up.

A “Dear John” letter is a letter written to end a relationship without having to face the other person. It has bad connotations for many people. Many people feel that a serious relationship requires a face-to-face meeting and a respectful discussion about the break-up. But what if they are unable to speak or hear? Or worse, what if the significant other won’t take no for an answer? What do you owe to a stalker?

Writing a “Dear John” to your cigarettes is a good way of:

  • Examining the true dynamics of your relationship to cigarettes.
  • Making your determination and commitment to end this relationship crystal clear.
  • Moving on, and starting the next phase of your life.

Here’s an example to help you get started:

Dear cigarettes,

I know you realize that my family hates you. They have always disapproved of you. My friends and co-workers have often been annoyed by you. I would have to sneak around with you just to have our time together. But this is no longer about them. This is about me.

All of these years, you’ve been with me. Some of my fondest memories include you. But you have also ruined so many things for me: my health, my relationships, my clothes, the interior of my car, my furniture, movies, concerts… I could go on and on.

I want my independence. I have never had anyone pressure me the way you do. I’ve never felt manipulated by anyone as I do by you. How many times was I determined to spend some time without you, and you would nag me, and nag me, and nag me? And you did this to me at my most vulnerable moments, never leaving me alone no matter how many times I would ask you to. Eventually I would give in.

You wreck my health, spend all my money, and make me choose you over all the other relationships in my life. I have determined that you are bad for me.

Recently, I have noticed that you have been trying to get the attention of my kids. That’s the last straw. I have to demonstrate to them that you are not worth their time.

Despite all the years between us, this relationship is over.

Goodbye forever,

A former smoker


If you would like help quitting smoking, please call a UPMC Health Plan health coach at 1-800-807-0751.