Many who have successfully kicked the habit seem to have a similar story to share, and my story is no different. I started smoking 18 years ago while in university, and quickly became a pack (or more) a day smoker. Over the years I periodically tried to quit, but I would always get into these mental games with myself that, naturally enough, resulted in failure. Anyone who has ever tried to break any habit knows exactly what kind of games I'm talking about - those little voices that constantly encourage backsliding, "just once more", and weakening of the will - some call them demons, I prefer the term mind parasites. This is why I am skeptical that a gradual approach works - for me it was just one more way to play mental games. The key to understanding addiction to any habit is to try to distance yourself from the games - to see them for what they are, as parasites in opposition to your best interests. When the parasites start to babble you need to be able to point them out for what they are. Only then can you start to laugh them off as powerless, for all demons or parasites have exactly the power YOU give them. They are completely powerless in themselves.
What did work for me was when I woke up one day and just decided I was sick of playing games with myself, and sick of smelling bad, and sick of what I knew smoking was doing to my health. I finally realized I was truly sick. At that point I just really decided to quit - I chose health over sickness. Up until that point my resolutions were just game playing, the product of mind parasites, not real decisions. Whereas before my resolutions were of the form, "I think I'll try to quit smoking today", a form which allows for a lot of gaming, now I simply resolved, "I QUIT". This was a grace of the Lord's for which I feel immense gratitude.
And from that moment, a moment of true conversion of heart, the addiction lost its power and was banished, after 17 years, just like a switch had gone from ON to OFF inside me. Of course there were physical withdrawl symptoms to contend with, but with a conversion of spirit the body ceases to control the will, and the symptoms are easily brushed off. I was able to quit 'cold-turkey' without assistance or props. The cure for smoking is not ultimately found in patches, smoking substitutes, hypnotism, or other things; the cure is found in conversion which allows the Lord's grace to fortify your will. It was, in fact, through this experience that I began to really appreciate the true nature of spiritual warfare, the virtues of ascetic discipline, and the need for God in my life. This has eventually led me to appreciation of Orthodoxy as containing real Truth; as the teaching that gets to the core of the problem directly and without embellishment. In a very real sense, my struggle with smoking was God's way of calling me to healing Truth.
May the Lord assist us in breaking the shackles of our slavery to our passions, that our individual wills may conform to His in all things, now and forever.