Monday, December 04, 2006

Smoking post

A while back, I subscribed to Google alerts for all things relative to Turkey. At this time of year, on top of all the EU/USA/Turkey/Cyprus articles, I was flooded with links to “how to pluck and stuff a Turkey”, “juicy and tender Turkey”, “allergen free Turkey”....

One link I received in November read: “To quit smoking cold turkey is really a fantasy in the mind of most smokers”. I thought; "here we go again, another one making a business out of the alleged near impossibility of quitting smoking..."

So I followed the link and read a former smoker's account on how he quit smoking. I have to admit, the man is honest and anything but patronizing. I was especially empathic to his recount of how emotionally attached a smoker gets to smoking.

As a non-smoker, smoker and ex-smoker, I’d like to say that:

  • there’s nothing rational about smoking (starting & stopping included). Most smokers and ex-smokers know and knew how bad is for them. Most smokers agree that it is unpleasant and stinky, hate the dependency and the social pressure. Nevertheless, many continue smoking. The pics on cigarette packs in some countries, showing cancerous lungs, rotten teeth and malformed babies, don't make smokers quit, in fact I hear they have become collectable items. Many adolescents swear they hate the fact their parents smoke but light up themselves a couple of years later. Most smoker-parents don't want their children to smoke.
  • smokers really do have an emotional tie to smoking so using rational arguments to convince them to quit is at best going to get you a superficial, short-lived conscious acknowledgement that you are right
  • to quit smoking you have to want to
  • but the emotional implications for most smokers go well beyond will power. Because smoking becomes an extension of your identity; a smoker will smoke when happy and celebrating or when sad and depressed, when concentrated or when taking a break, when bored and waiting, when chilling out or stressed, when alone and with a crowd. Smoking gradually becomes a companion to any circumstance, in fact every circumstance, success or failure, crisis or triumph- because of all this, quitting involves a re-think your self-image (I am a non-smoker vs I am a smoker/ex-smoker constantly craving a cigarette) and of the actual act of smoking (smoking is unnatural/ an effort vs it's cool/natural/part of me). In a nutshell, your belief system needs to change.
  • the following well-meaning statements are anything but helpful and only create unnecessary fear. “Smoking is…”:
    • more addictive than heroine
    • much worse for you than being a bit overweight
    • one of the most difficult addictions/habits to drop
    • like being on anti-depressants so we’re going to give you a Prozac-like prescription to help you quit
Hello?! Do you really think that the perspective of spending your saved-up not smoking money on a new wardrobe because you can’t fit into any of your clothes is motivating? What about the perspective of needing pills to feel normal again? I don’t think so.
Not only are these things so not encouraging they are also not true!

I’m pretty sure that –beyond the implications of rethinking your self-image- a lot of smokers would quit if they could magically just become non-smokers without any of the kickbacks. So telling them about how hard/ impossible/ horrible the stopping will be is really making sure they don’t quit.

How efficient can any undertaking be, when your mind fears the very thought of it? Not to mention the fear of failure.

Not smoking is natural, so your body will welcome it and it will be totally automatic. You don’t become a non-smoker. You return to being one. Hence, you will not loose a part of yourself – you were born this way.

I don’t want to make a case out of it, I know how annoying it was to me when people asked about my quitting. I know ex-smokers who never told anyone they quit and whose offices are smoking zones, because they did not want to become the annoying, pestering ex-smoker. I applaud this although I’m not sure I’d manage it.

All I’m saying is, if you’re a smoker, that’s ok. If you want to quit smoking, or even give yourself a break and say take it up again when you’re healthily retired, you can easily do it. Please don't believe that you'll necessarily go through hell, want to kill everyone around you, put on weight, or become depressed.
It’s easier than you expect and actually really empowering because after having heard how hard it is, you feel like a champ’ when you wing it.

And because it’s natural, you won’t put on weight if you don’t need to, because there is nothing to compensate.

If you want some support, you may want to try Quit Smoking Right Now.

(N.B. I am in no way linked to this person, I don't know him, and I am not benefiting from recommending him. I just found his "program" as easy as pie and inexpensive compared to all the outrageously priced systems out there which charge the equivalent of a year or two of smoking because they're helping you. Also, it's money back guaranteed.)

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