If you smoke when you’re bored — how can you cope when you quit?

Gadgets, distraction techniques, or something much easier?

John C. Dicey
5 min readMay 28, 2021

For more than 35 years we’ve received requests for advice by letter, email, and postcard from all over the world. We’ve answered every single one of them, and continue to do so with pleasure. I’ve undertaken to publish as many replies as I can in the hope that it will help even more people to freedom. Real-life questions from struggling smokers.

Hi John,

I smoked my last cigarette last night. I primarily smoked out of boredom — what can I do when I’m bored? With two small children there’s nothing I can do (well, nothing I really want to do) to fill the boredom…the kids get into everything. I want so desperately for it to be easy. To be able to just brush off the big monster and ignore it. I woke up this morning and the monster is unbearable. I don’t want to smoke so why is it so loud? I got so bored and so stressed and uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be easy to tell it to go away and that I don’t want or need one but it’s not listening. I don’t want to miss smoking and logically I don’t. I feel like I’m using willpower, the stress, the irritability! I know the words. I know the teaching but when it comes down to it, in the moment, when I need it most…I can’t remember it (I suffer some memory difficulty). I feel like a lost cause. All I want is to stop smoking and not be extra stressed or irritable. I don’t want to need smoking in my life! Chloe, Northampton, UK

Please be cool Chloe. I’m certain that I can help and I’m really sorry that you’ve had such a tough time of it.

I completely understand the misery of failure to quit with the book (I’ve been there myself) and I’m certain that in the links below you will find some inspiration and access to everything you need to set yourself free without having any of those negative feelings you describe.

I have learning/memory difficulties myself so maybe have a read of this piece I wrote on that subject? https://addictioncentral.medium.com/help-allen-carrs-book-didn-t-work-for-me-85c28f2e4a7

I wrote another piece that also might resonate with you — so do have a read of this one too. Every time I tried to quit smoking it was torture and hell for me…until Allen Carr’s Easyway finally (eventually) clicked for me. https://addictioncentral.medium.com/addiction-central-next-stop-freedom-86bc691d092e

The fact is, I had clearly missed, or misunderstood, more than a few things about the method — even though I was convinced I had taken it all on board. I was lucky enough to attend an Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Group Seminar which slotted all the right pieces into all the right places. https://www.allencarr.com/easyway-stop-smoking/programmes/group-seminars/

It’s really important that you accept that you have missed something, maybe a few things, within the method, but please don’t beat yourself up about that. I know you feel you know it all off by heart — but something simply hasn’t quite clicked for you yet and a little extra advice and guidance from us is normally all it takes.

Support Link: Anyone reading this piece, experiencing similar (or entirely different) issues with stopping smoking can obtain free of charge advice from us via the following link. To obtain that guidance select SUPPORT on the link below. You’ll then get to fill out a short questionnaire about your experience with the method — and based on that — a senior Allen Carr Therapist will provide you with bespoke, detailed, free of charge advice on how to get the method to gel for you. https://www.allencarr.com/contact-us/

Believing that we smoke because of boredom is one of the great myths & illusions of nicotine addiction. Accepting that you don’t choose to smoke is key. If you choose to smoke you wouldn’t require any assistance from us or anyone else to quit. Smokers smoke because they’re addicted to nicotine…as we get older we justify our failure to stop by “buying into” some of the illusory benefits that the addiction convinces us we receive. Breaking down those illusions is important but easy.

You don’t choose to smoke because of boredom…you smoke for one simple reason: you’re addicted to nicotine.

What does a smoker do when they’re bored? The smoke!

What does a smoker do when they’re trying to concentrate? They smoke!

What about when they’re happy? Or when they’re sad? They smoke!

When I was a smoker I was incapable of doing anything without a cigarette before, during, or after. When you think about it — doesn’t that just about sum addiction up?

Because we automatically reach for a cigarette when we’re bored or taking a break or feeling under pressure — and because while smoking a cigarette we feel immediately better than a moment before — we assume that the cigarette relieved the boredom or the added to the break (like a reward) or helped us feel less stressed.

As smokers we don’t realise that whether we’re bored, trying to relax, or cope with stress — we have a whole other level of stress on top of that which a non-smoker feels at those times.

It’s the constant, ever so slight, feeling of nicotine withdrawal which acts as a trigger for that annoying, “I want a cigarette” thought. At that time we try to battle and fight the thought or try to brush it away and not think about it — but that’s always a mistake.

If I say, “Whatever you do don’t think about a banana now!”…no doubt you’re thinking about a banana.

You can’t not think about something you’re trying not to think about.

Getting comfortable with thinking about cigarettes is what’s important and we can give some very specific advice about that on the support link I provided above. But trust me, once you re-wire your brain, fix the thought process that occurs when that little nicotine monster rears its ugly head, the more you think about cigarettes or smoking, the happier you’ll be. Re-wiring your brain is easy — so please do use the support contact link I provided above.

Be cool Chloe — once you have all the advice we have to provide on this subject — you’ll be home and dry and because we’ll explain that smoking wasn’t ever something you chose to do as a reward (for example) you won’t feel that you’re missing out on that “reward” once you’re free.

Best wishes

John at Allen Carr


The name on the “postcard” has been changed to protect the sender’s identify.

From the desk John C. Dicey, London, England.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/john.diceyallencarr
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-dicey-73571731/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AllenCarr
Twitter https://twitter.com/allencarr
Press & Media https://www.allencarr.com/press-and-pr/

Hey! While you’re here — please do sign up to Medium and follow me — I’m not 100% sure of where this project will go — but some followers might help. Thanks :-)



John C. Dicey

Former 80-a-day smoker who was freed by Allen Carr. Now Global CEO & Senior Therapist at Allen Carr’s Easyway (since 1998) & co-author of Allen Carr books.