Sorry, but I haven’t read through all of this thread before responding, but I’ll add my experience:
Once upon a time when I was 18, I started smoking because all of my friends did. Bad, I know, but it happened. By the time I was 20, I wanted to quit. I never smoked a lot, but enough for it to be difficult to quit. It took me a good 2 or 3 times for the quitting to stick. Some of the things I did may seem a little extreme, but they were really insightful once I looked back on everything. Here’s what I did:
Week 1: I allowed myself to smoke like I would in every day situations, but I carried a little pad of paper around with me to note what time of day I had one, how I was feeling, who I was with, where I was, etc. Much easier to do these days now that smart phones can replace that silly pad of paper.
I noticed that a pattern emerged: I smoked most often in my car, when I was with other smokers, after eating, and when I was stressed. Knowing this, I gave myself tools to work with to busy myself when I wanted a cigarette.
In the car: I missed having something in my left hand, so I held a straw like it was a cigarette.
After eating: Immediately chew gum or brush your teeth. I found that I didn’t want to tamper with a clean mouth feeling, and smoking will ruin that immediately.
When I was stressed: I tried quitting in the fall / winter, so I stuck a stress ball in my jacket pocket so it would always be near by. I also allowed myself to chew gum.
Other smokers: I avoided them until I was comfortable with my progress. I also avoided alcohol because that was a cue to smoke.
Just knowing yourself will be helpful to you to avoid the temptation. I invested in multiple packs of gum and strategically placed them on all the table tops in my place. One on the night stand, one in the kitchen, one on the coffee table, one in my car, one at my desk at work, etc.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I haven’t smoked in 10 years. You will miss having something in your mouth, hence all the gum. You’ll also miss something in your hand for sure (didn’t think it was possible, but it surprised me when it was true), which is why I carried straws. You may have better luck taking up knitting or something. Just be patient with yourself, know that if you don’t succeed the first try it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means that you get to look back and say “well, this tactic wasn’t the best approach for me, but it might work if I try XYZ with it.”
Good luck, and we’re here if you need support!
ETA: Ugh. I’m under the weather so I forgot the most important part. Count how many smokes you had in your week of observation. The next week, see if you can decrease that amount by 5-10, or whatever goal you set for yourself. Replace one of your smoke breaks with one of the nifty habit-fillers I listed above, or create your own. Patience is key. The next week, reduce your smoke intake by another goal you set. Keep doing this until you work your way down to nothing, and then cheer with success. I won’t lie, day 3 without a cigarette was the hardest. The first two weren’t bad, but day 3 was torture. Once I was over that hurdle, the rest of the days were much easier as they went on. Eventually you’ll wonder why you ever smoked in the first place. It’s such a nice feeling too.