Nicotine is a demon that must be exorcised. If you've ever gone through its withdrawal, you'll know what I mean. In fact, the relapse rate for reformed smokers is higher than the relapse rate for heroin addicts. It's that tough.

But it can be done - if you have the right method: the Willpower Method.I know what you're saying to yourself right now: "But I don't have any willpower. I've never had any. All my life I've made resolutions to stop this or that, and always, a week later, I find myself back where I was when I started." Well, I don't agree. I believe that everyone has willpower.

When I first set out to quit smoking, after having smoked a pack and a half a day for six years, I didn't set about it in a spontaneous, unthinking manner. The first thing I did was sit down and determine what exactly it would take to quit smoking for the rest of my life. I decided that no matter what programs I took - hypnosis or accupressure or . . . whatever, it would always, at some time, boil down to me, sitting alone in a room, an ashtray in front of me, a pack of cigarettes lying next to it. The only thing that could save me would be willpower.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines willpower with only two words: "energetic determination." Not too helpful. So I set out to discover what willpower was. And that was the key. Because once I had isolated the Four Elements of Willpower, I found that I had as much as I wanted. In fact, I haven't smoked in a year now, and in that time I've had only two serious cigarette crises. Both of those came in the first week. Since then, using this method, I haven't even been close to lighting up a coffin nail.

Let me give you my definition of Willpower: "Having control over your mind and your body, and being able to do what deep down inside you truly, honestly want to do."

I've never met a smoker who didn't truly, honestly want to quit. If you happen to be one, you can stop here and turn the page. I can't be of much help to you. But if you do want to quit, read on. Here's my Willpower Method - short and sweet, and it works!

Element No. 1 - Recognizing and Killing the Rationalization:

Understanding this alone may be enough for you to successfully quit smoking: rationalizations are deadly to willpower. Nothing breaks down willpower faster. Whenever you start to rationalize, recognize it for what it is, and kill it immediately by saying to yourself, "I will not rationalize my way into smoking a cigarette." I can't possibly run down the complete list of rationalizations; every person has his own set of about 15 or 20, but I will list a few so you can identify yours when they come.

"I need cigarettes. They calm me down and help me handle pressure better."

"Hey, look. I haven't smoked now for three whole days. This shows that I can quit anytime I want, so give me a light."

"If I have a cigarette tonight before I go to bed, then I'll quit again in the morning."

"I can't quit smoking. I've never been able to quit smoking. So I might as well have a cigarette now because I'm sure as hell going to have one later."

The above rationalizations are deadly. If you want to kill your willpower, use these. If you want to quit smoking, kill them. Your body does not need cigarettes; and once you've gone through withdrawal, you'll handle pressure much better without the burning weed between your fingers.

When you do have a rationalization, and you have recognized it as such, use Element No. 3 to kill it (more on that later).

Here are a few more of the rationalizations that I had to kill.

Element No. 2 - The Making of The Commitment.

After reading that word, Commitment, the battle for control of your mind has begun. Already, your mind is rationalizing its way around having to commit itself (as in, "Maybe I'll just try this for a little while, to see if I like it."). Stop this dead; leave it cold; kill these rationalizations in their tracks.

The first thing you need to do in making your commitment is to sit down, alone, for about an hour, and think about all the really good reasons for quitting smoking. After that, reach for the part deep inside you that honestly wants to live life without the constant haze of smoke, and using that, make a deep, quiet, and solid commitment to stop smoking for life - not for a week, not for a day, not for a month, but for life. The commitment for life is essential because if you make it for a certain period of time, whatever it is, you'll eventually reach that time, and then your willpower will melt away. There are times when you're trying to quit that your commitment will waver. Mine did. And though the last two elements will keep you from backsliding when it does, you should still recommit every morning just after your shower and every night before you go to bed.

Element No. 3 - The First Battle Front: Control of Your Mind

It's the morning of your quitting date. You haven't smoked for about four hours, and your mind is beginning to circle around and around, always coming back to cigarettes. Don't worry; remember that you are in control of what you think. Think of your mind as a stage, and on it you will play only the thoughts that you want to be there. Every time you think about cigarettes, you kill those thoughts. Do not even allow yourself to think about cigarettes. When the rationalizations appear, forcefully push them off the stage.

You'll find you have to think about smoking before you can break down and do it! If you don't think about it, you can't do it.

Element No. 4 - The Second Battle Front: Control of Your Body

Guess what? You allowed yourself to think about cigarettes for too long, you fantasized about them too much and you rationalized. Now you've got an ashtray in front of you, a craving deep inside, and an unlit cigarette between your fingers. You are having what I call a Serious Cigarette Crisis. You are only a step away from losing the war. But before you light that cigarette, I want you to recognize what is happening, consciously, and then tell yourself, "I'm having a Serious Cigarette Crisis." (I had two of these when I quit and still made it, so all is not lost.) Now that you recognize this, now that you've talked to yourself, take control of your body. Make yourself, physically, put that unlit cigarette down, and then, without thinking - because you lost the battle for your mind - run, don't walk, to the nearest exit. Leave that cigarette as far behind as possible, and when you come back from a long walk, you're once again at the First Battle Front. Fight your battles one by one.

Good luck! Remember, kill the rationalization, make the commitment, take control of your mind and take control of your body. You are in charge here!