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My dear friend Smokee was always the life of the party in college, and she was also the most generous with her cigarettes. But college was a long time ago, and now she’s ready to quit and looking around for help.

“I’ve been teaching people how to quit smoking for 36 years,” said Dr. Stan Lederman of Smoke Stoppers San Diego in North Park (619-296-8700; smokestopperofsd.com). “I offer 11 hours of information presented in seven classes, Monday through Saturday, and then the following Monday [$269]. If during that time you do not quit smoking, then there is no charge. In the unlikely event that you do start smoking again in the months or years to come, you can come back, tuition-free” — though there is an administrative fee. “You may also attend, at no charge, monthly follow-ups at the Friday or Saturday classes.”

Lederman’s class sizes run between three and eight people, “so that everyone can contribute and everyone can learn from each other. For my first class, I have people come and smoke a cigarette — I want to condition them to think about cigarettes in my class. By the second day, when they come to my office, it will have been only a few hours since they quit, and they will be drooling for a cigarette” — partly for psychological reasons and partly because “nicotine is addictive. For the majority of the population, there are 36 to 72 hours of physical withdrawal. That second night, my job is to teach people to identify the cigarette desire and dismiss it. You can’t just ignore the desire; you have to deal with it.”

Most people who decide to quit, said Lederman, try to throw their cigarettes away and not think about them. “That seems to work for a while, but after a few months, on average,” they get to a point where “nothing else matters until they smoke a cigarette. They give up because they can’t stop thinking about it. In my program, I teach people how to identify cigarette desires instead of ignoring them. They need to have cognitive control of those desires when they come about, and as any good scout knows, the better rehearsed you are, the better you are going to perform.”

Cognitive thought-based programs, said Lederman, “have a 50 percent success rate a year down the road.” He said that was superior to other methods, such as hypnosis. “We talk about that in class.”

But Lynn Whitmire at Advanced Hypnotherapy, downtown (858-270-5756; advancedhypnotherapyonline.com), disagreed. “Hypnosis is especially helpful for something like quitting smoking,” she claimed. “The conscious mind knows that smoking is not good for you, but it’s the subconscious mind that takes responsibility for habits like smoking. My job is to help you access the subconscious.”

People smoke for a positive purpose, said Whitmire. “Maybe it helps to alleviate stress or manage boredom. We ask the subconscious about that and use the information to come up with a new program. It’s critical to have that new program, that healthier alternative. You can’t just leave a void, or the old program will come back.” Say the smoking is brought on in response to stress. “If it’s okay with the person, I suggest taking a deep breath. It’s impossible to be as tensed or stressed after taking a deep breath.”

Whitmire’s sessions last around 90 minutes and cost $150. “There are studies that show an 80 to 90 percent success rate if the person is doing it for the right reasons. I also work with an acupuncturist. We find that if we combine modalities [$299], the success rate increases. The acupuncture helps you detox and helps support your attitude.”

On a similar note, Darlene at the Labbe Health Center in Mira Mesa (858-483-4770; sandiegostopsmokingdoctor.com) explained the center’s smoking-cessation treatment ($399). “Dr. Labbe uses a low-level laser, known as a cold laser, on different parts of the ears, wrists, and feet. This increases your serotonin endorphin levels. The feeling of well-being helps to fight the craving for nicotine. We also stimulate points that speed detoxification. The session takes 45 minutes to an hour. It’s painless and about 86 percent effective. A second session is usually done one to three weeks later, but you can come in sooner if you feel the need for a cigarette.”

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