Famous Ex-Smokers and How They Quit

Celebrity smokers are no different than the rest of us. They smoke their first cigarette and eventually find themselves addicted to nicotine and looking for a way out.

Where they might differ is in the pressure that being in the limelight has on smoking and smoking cessation. I can only imagine that it's not easy to succeed with quitting when your every move is recorded on video or in the papers.

Barack Obama

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama. Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty Images

Quit method: Nicotine gum

During his first run for President in 2008, Barack Obama quit smoking, using nicotine gum to help him do it. He has admitted to slipping up and smoking a couple of times, though.

In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama stated in an interview with the Washington Post that he had officially quit almost a year before. Then, in June of 2015, he was photographed standing on a balcony with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In his hand, he held something that couldn't quite be identified, but the press surmised it had the look of a pack of cigarettes. That was never confirmed.

It is worthwhile mentioning that using nicotine gum to quit can be tricky. It's easy to abuse this form of nicotine replacement therapy. Many ex-smokers have kicked cigarettes only to find themselves addicted to the gum.

If you want to use NRTs to quit smoking, I'd recommend using the nicotine patch. It is the only NRT that is applied once a day. This makes it much easier to control and stop using entirely when the course of therapy is finished.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron
Axelle/Bauer-Griffen/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Quit method: Kerry Gaynor Method

A heavy smoker for many years, Charlize Theron used the Kerry Gaynor method to quit smoking in 2011. In a Vogue interview in the November 2011 issue, she said, “I was highly addicted. I thought, I don’t smoke like normal people. I smoke to die.”

Kerry Gaynor is a Los Angeles hypnotherapist who treats people in person at his LA office. He has also developed a set of DVDs that guides smokers through his program using self-hypnosis at home.

Other stars who quit with the help of the Kerry Gaynor method include Debra Messing, Paul Rudd, and Katie Cassidy (David Cassidy's daughter).

Matt Damon / Ben Affleck

ben affleck and matt damon
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Quit method: Hypnosis

Matt went to a hypnotist to help him quit smoking, and soon after, buddy Ben Affleck followed suit by visiting the same person. The hypnotist helped both men internalize the fact that nicotine is poison and cigarettes destroy health. By the time their appointments were over, neither one wanted to smoke again.

Whoopi Goldberg

whoopi goldberg
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Quit method: Inspiration and Cutting Down on Cigarettes

A smoker for the better part of four decades, Whoopi Goldberg quit in the fall of 2012. She claims that it was a video of two children stricken with cystic fibrosis that convinced her to stop smoking. Their names are Keith and Kennedy, and while Whoopi knew that she couldn't stop the progression of this genetic disease for them, she realized she could stop hurting her own lungs.

According to a post on her Facebook page, Whoopi claims cutting down on your cigarettes is the way to go.

"If ur tryin 2 quit smoking try starting from 10 a week & cut down as you feel comfortable. That's what I did. I don't miss the cigs at all!"

Slowly reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke can be a tough way to quit because it forces your body into a fairly constant state of nicotine withdrawal. That said, we're all different and this method clearly works for some folks. Just ask Whoopi!

Courteney Cox

Courtney Cox
Gregg Deguire/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Quit method: The Mad Russian

For Courtney Cox, the magic pill that helped her quit smoking was an energy healer from Brookline, Massachusetts who goes by the name of Yefim Shubentsov, also known by many as the Mad Russian. Mr. Shubentsov claims to manipulate bio-energy to remove or "erase" certain ailments and addictions, including nicotine addiction.

Courtney was 34 years old when she went to see him, and hasn't smoked since. Other famous celebrity clients include Courtney's ex-husband David Arquette, along with Billy Joel, Drew Barrymore, and Amy Tan.

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston
C. Flanigan/Getty Images Entertainment

Quit method: Yoga

In 2012 Jennifer Aniston finally put the cigarettes down for good. She was 43 years old and credits yoga for helping her quit and rid her body of nicotine and caffeine. She did put on a few pounds during cessation, which is not uncommon.

Similarly, Kelly Ripa used exercise to help her stop smoking. Exercise works well as a craving buster both because it releases endorphins, and because it works to distract new ex-smokers from thoughts of smoking.

Ashton Kutcher

ashton kutcher
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Quit method: Allen Carr Easyway

In 2010 at the age of 32, Ashton Kutcher read Allen Carr's Easyway to Stop Smoking book. The message hit home with him and he stubbed out his last cigarette as he finished the book.

Allen Carr smoked upwards of 100 cigarettes a day for 33 years. When he quit, this British author wrote the Easyway to Stop Smoking, giving readers a road map for changing their relationship with smoking through mindset. His method has helped thousands of people stop smoking over the years.

Other celebrity clients of the Allen Carr Easyway method include Anthony Hopkins, Ellen Degeneres, Richard Branson, and Pink.

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diax
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images Entertainment

Quit method: Guilt and Willpower

Cameron Diaz smoked hand-rolled cigarettes during her 20's but quit at 26 while training for an athletic role in the movie, Charlie's Angels. She took them up again in her early 30s, but guilt and the encouragement of her folks to set a healthy example by quitting helped her eventually kick smoking to the curb.

However, in an interview promoting her book on healthy living on the Chelsea Lately show in March of 2014, Cameron said: 'I think one cigarette every once in a while is not going to kill you.'

The fact is, every cigarette you light up increases your risk of smoking-related disease. It also greatly increases your risk of relapse. Most ex-smokers agree that there is no such thing as just one when it comes to cigarettes.

Christy Turlington

christy turlington
Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

Quit Method: Cold Turkey

Calvin Klein supermodel Christy Turlington is an example of how smoking-related disease can strike young smokers.

Most smokers think that they have years - decades, even to quit before irreparable damage to their health from tobacco is done. And, in many cases, that is true. That's not how it worked out for Christy, however.

Christy started smoking at age 13, and while she did try to quit numerous times along the way, she smoked upwards of a pack a day  until she quit for good at 26 years old.

At 31 years old she had her first low dose CT lung scan to screen for lung cancer as a way to raise awareness of the new technology. Her father died of lung cancer in 1997 and she'd been an anti-smoking advocate ever since.

The lung scan revealed that she had early-stage emphysema, which came as a shock. "The really frightening thing is, there was enough of an effect from my smoking that it caused permanent damage," she said in an interview with the Times of London. In Christy's case, there was a history of passive smoking as well, which increased the risk of lung disease for her.

Colin Farrell

colin farrell
Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

Quit Method: Cold Turkey and a Goodbye Letter

Colin Farrell used the unique quit method of writing a goodbye letter to his addiction to nicotine and then setting the note on fire to seal the deal.

"I wrote a breakup letter to the Spirit of Tobacco," he said in an interview in the September '15 issue of Men's Health. "I got a frying pan and tossed the letter with a load of tobacco, put some paraffin over it, and lit a match that sent a big, wallowing cloud up into the sky. Then I didn't have a cigarette for another two years."

Unfortunately, he admits to smoking a cigarette here and there now. Let's hope he ditches them for good soon.

An Educated Quit is a Successful Quit

The folks highlighted in this article have enjoyed lasting success in their quit efforts, for the most part. Kudos to them and to you too, if you've quit smoking. If you haven't, use the resources here to help you get a head start on the process. It's worth the work it takes to clear nicotine addiction out of your life.

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