CEO of Allen Carr’s Easyway talks to ASH about how he quit

John Dicey is Global CEO & Senior Therapist for Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking method. After quitting smoking, having smoked 80 cigarettes a day, John Dicey was inspired to help others do the same. He was trained by the late Allen Carr in 1998 and went on to treat more than 30,000 smokers face to face. John and Allen worked with smokers in 50 countries and worked on a series of books together which have sold 16 million copies worldwide. This is John’s story.

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I was the worst smoker on the planet. I know that sounds like an empty, albeit embarrassing boast – but I really was. Most days, without fail, even when I was under the weather, I’d puff my way through at least 80 cigarettes. Quite how I managed that is a mystery. I was a chain-smoker. No sooner had I stubbed one cigarette out – I’d have lit another – frequently ending up lighting a new cigarette while the previous one was coming to an end. I was ashamed of it then, and even now it makes me feel deeply embarrassed. Cigarettes, nicotine, had a deathly grip on me.allen carr, stop smoking support

For years I’d tried to quit. I used every method under the sun. Patches, gum, hypnotherapy, aversion therapy, Chinese remedies, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and even shock treatment (a guy showing me photos of smokers’ lungs, illnesses, and diseases yelling at me to quit) – nothing worked. Not even for a day!

Being a chain-smoker is really tough – I used to buy my cigarettes at different shops each day – on a rota system because to buy 4 packs, every day, in the same shop would be hugely embarrassing. If I was going to a party I’d take at least 4 packs with me just for the evening. Less committed smokers didn’t seem to mind running out of cigarettes and cadging off other smokers – but I could never risk that myself…and in fact, I’d always take into account those smokers (who would cadge) in my calculations for how many packs of cigarettes to take myself.

I’d only actually agreed to go to the seminar at my wife’s suggestion on the basis that she promised, if it didn’t work, she’d stop hassling me about my smoking for a year. Even when I left the seminar I couldn’t believe it was going to work. But I thought I’d give it a go as I had nothing to lose (and in any case, I was fully intent on getting my money back under his money back guarantee).

After the seminar I recall making it a hundred yards down the road without feeling inclined to seek out the nearest shop that sold cigarettes, and feeling slightly suspicious of my lack of interest in doing so.

By the time I’d driven home, past countless petrol stations, newsagents, and convenience stores, without pulling over to buy 80 Rothmans cigarettes – I was amazed. The only difficulty I seemed to have was accepting that it was true. That I didn’t want to smoke. I felt that mild sense of “wow, this is a bit weird” for a while and that was that.

I think it was my curiosity, how on earth could something that seemed impossible and unpleasant in the past, now appear to be so simple, combined with an overwhelming feeling that if I could quit, anyone could, that stayed with me for the following months and eventually compelled me to contact Allen to ask if I might be able to get involved.

My predecessor as CEO, Robin Hayley (now Chairman of Easyway) and Allen seemed interested in my ideas, impressed by my business background, and enthralled by my passion and enthusiasm. I was delighted when they eventually invited me on board. I sold my business interests in the hospitality industry and undertook to train as an Allen Carr’s Easyway Therapist.

It was a long and arduous process. The method is made up of 3 seminars. One is 5 hours long, and the other two are 3 hours long. They are mainly monologues – designed to guide groups of smokers through the principles of the method. The task of getting into a position whereby you are able to deliver the seminars, with real live smokers – often interrupting, questioning, and challenging you – is something that only a trained Allen Carr Therapist can really appreciate. I practised and practised and practised and eventually I knew I was ready.

As we succeeded in growing our publishing interests and seminar business to be a truly global operation (in more than 50 countries worldwide) it was my privilege to pass on the training Allen provided to me, to trainee therapists in places as diverse as Greece, Serbia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Chile, Guatemala, Iceland, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Russia to name just a few.

As Global CEO, once a year, I invite our managers and therapists from all 50+ Allen Carr countries to join me for 3 days at a hotel near London. It’s my favourite week of the year where we exchange ideas, inspiration, best practise, and almost as importantly, have a huge humdinger of a party. As we grew and grew I was worried that we’d lose our sense of “family”, but so far – so good, we remain a group of people, joined together, with a common objective; to cure the world of smoking. And it’s not just smoking – over the past 10 years we’ve successfully applied the method to many other problems including alcohol, weight issues, sugar addiction, gambling addiction, and this year – technology addiction, with our new book ‘Smart Phone, Dumb Phone’. Ensuring that Allen Carr’s legacy achieves its full potential is an honour and privilege for me, not to say, a huge motivation.

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