11 Ways Pop-Culture Has Taught Us To Quit Smoking And Other Addictions

As the New Year approaches, many will plan bold New Year’s resolutions. Some of those resolutions will include giving up certain addictive vices, like smoking or boozing it up. We’re here to help! We can’t offer individual moral support or counseling, but we can offer you a few suggestions gleaned from pop-culture about how to displace those addictions with other more healthy addictions or enroll in unusual addiction treatment plans.

Here’s a few ideas about how to kick those bad habits we’ve picked up from movies, television, and celebrities.

1. “Quitters, Inc.”

The 1978 Stephen King short-story is the holy grail of smoking cessation. Quitters, Inc. — the organization at the center of the short story — boasts a 98 percent success rate. There are a few catches. Those who sign up for Quitters, Inc. do not know how the organization works until they sign up, and only then do they find out that they are on 24-hour surveillance. If they are caught smoking, they and their family members will be kidnapped and tortured. Each time they are caught smoking, the torture level goes up a notch. Fingers are removed, arms are broken, etc. Almost no one ever gets caught more than four times, but in the off chance that the customers smokes more than ten times, he is murdered. It’s a surefire way to prevent him from smoking.

2. Cracking Up

Another favorite of mine comes from the Jerry Lewis 1983 movie, Cracking Up. In the movie, Lewis’ character signs up for an organization somewhat similar to “Quitters, Inc.,” only the consequences aren’t so severe. Throughout the movie, anytime Lewis lights up, a random stranger walks by and punches him in the face. After a few bruises, that lesson is sure to take hold.

3. X-Files

It’s never stated specifically in the show, but many believe that Fox Mulder’s obsession with sunflower seeds is a result of a smoking addiction. Others believe that he chews on sunflower seeds because of David Duchovny’s rumored porn addiction. In either respect, sunflower seeds seem to do the trick. One note of caution, however: Do not get salted sunflower seeds because chewing them for prolonged periods of time will result in dry mouth, dehydration, and terrible breath.

4. Sesame Street

Likewise, though it is never explicitly stated, many assume that The Count in Sesame Street took up his obsession with numbers to curb another addiction, in this case sucking blood. It’s not easy for a vampire to give up the taste of human blood, but numbers can keep him preoccupied for hours at a time.

5. NewsRadio

After an excessive dalliance with the patch, Bill used chewing tobacco to give up cigarettes on NewsRadio. I think it worked.

God, I miss Phil Hartman.

6. Lethal Weapon 3

In Lethal Weapon 3, every time Riggs had a craving for cigarettes, he simply ate a dog biscuit. The good news is, he kicked his habit. The bad news is, he developed an addiction to dog biscuits. Fortunately, that came in handy when Riggs was confronted by a guard dog.

7. Ronald Reagan

U. S. President-elect Bill Clinton (R) laughs as f
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Many may not realize that Ronald Reagan’s jelly bean obsession actually goes back to his smoking days. In order to quit smoking his pipe when Reagan ran for Governor, he picked up a jelly bean habit, and he ultimately became associated with that candy. He had three and a half tons of jelly beans on hand for his Presidential inauguration, the Herman Goelitz Candy Company provided the Reagan White House with jelly beans for all eight years of his presidency, and a jelly bean jar with the presidential seal was even developed for him to send out jelly beans to other heads of state as gifts.

8. George W. Bush

President Bush And Lance Armstrong Take Bike Ride
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Another former President also used addiction displacement to give up his addiction to drugs and alcohol. After Laura Bush told her husband that, “It’s either the booze or me,” George W. kicked his bad habits and replaced them with religion and exercise. Don’t knock it: It was good enough to make him the President of the United States (the last name, of course, didn’t hurt).

9. Kevin Smith

Some people replace one bad habit with a lesser evil. In this case, director and writer Kevin Smith quit cigarettes by turning to pot in 2008. Two years later, he directed Cop Out and ultimately started a podcast network, where his pot-smoking highs have been helpful in his ability to ramble for hours. Some of us longtime Smith fans sometimes wish he’d go back to smoking.

10. Bounce

Sometimes, cigarettes aren’t the problem. It’s what is used to displace cigarettes that becomes the problem. This particular clip speaks to me, because I smoked for three years while I was in law school. I had no problem quitting, because I used nicotine gum. A decade later, and I don’t smoke, but I still chew nicotine gum. Here, Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in Bounce never smoked, but she did use nicotine gum to calm her nerves. A year later, she had to use cigarettes to wean herself off the gum.

11. Craig Ferguson