Joe Bastianich's taste for quitting smoking

How restaurateur Joe Bastianich found a formula to quit smoking & help others

New York restaurateur Joe Bastianich was a smoker for much of his adult life. Some time ago, he began to have second thoughts linked to health issues as he discovered that “my ability to taste food and wine was being ruined.”

So the need to quit smoking became very clear to Bastianich, who is also a judge of the Fox TV show, Master Chef.

He knew the foodservice industry struggles with the addiction – the US Census Bureau estimates 30% of its workers smoke, making it the second highest population of smokers among the country’s occupational groups.

It was the impact of smoking on his ability to taste wine and food that led Bastianich to quit smoking. “My passion for food – on top of my health – was a huge factor in my decision to quit smoking. For 18 years, I depended on cigarettes and after a dozen attempts, I was finally able to quit with the help of NicoDerm CQ and support from my friends and family.”

With his partner, Mario and mother, Lydia, he owns nine New York restaurants including Babbo, Becco and Del Posto as well as the massive Italian marketplace, Eataly.

“Support,” he points out, was the key to “my quit attempt and why I started behind programmes like Blueprint to Quit which combine resources like quit smoking aids and an online quitting resource to help people do this.”

Addiction, he observes, is both physical and behavioural. “I used the patch and found outlets such as running and eating differently, and it changed my life completely. Now I run marathons. I started running when I quit and began doing marathons six or seven years ago. I’m a better wine taster. I partnered with Blueprint to Quit to share my story and try to inspire others. I think fewer people are smoking but over the past 25 years, I’ve seen that it’s a serious problem.”

However, he declares: ”Quitting is a total game changer. Once you know you can break such a strong addiction, it’s liberating. It is freeing to know you can quit things that formerly controlled you. The patch got me through the hurdles and once I quit, there was no turning back.”

The fewer smokers in the restaurant industry, “the better it makes us,” he says. “Smoking kills the olfactory senses which are our greatest resource.”

Bastianich urges industry colleagues to develop an exercise routine they can stick with, identify and eliminate those “smoking moments” such as cigarettes with morning coffee, learn to cope with the physical and psychological aspects of smoking addiction, look at the challenges of quitting in digestible bites of time instead of the “big picture,” and make a public promise to quit smoking to gain the support of others.


Sue Holaday


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