It is no secret or mystery. Cigarette smoking is bad for you. Cigarette smoking leads to low birth weight babies, lung cancer, emphysema, mouth cancer, and a variety of other serious diseases that nobody really likes to think about. It stains the teeth and stinks up the clothes, and yet regardless of the threat of eventually death, millions of people light up every single day, and so few quit the habit. Why?
Cigarette smoking is addictive. The nicotine in cigarettes creates a virtual need for the smoker to continuously give the body the toxins that it craves. Without the toxins, the body starts to go through withdrawal symptoms, which is uncomfortable. With the development of nicotine replacement patches, pills, gums, and lozenges, then it should be simple for those who want to quit to simply replace their nicotine with a healthier device and then gradually release themselves form the grip of nicotine addiction, right? In theory this should work, except that smokers are more than just physically addicted to cigarettes. They are emotionally dependent on the cigarette as well.
The first thing a cigarette smoker does when they are having strong negative emotions is grab a smoke. The rush of nicotine that they inhale relaxes their body and allows the smoker to help themselves to calm down, much the same way children suck their thumbs. It has become a stress management tool, and without replacing the tools with another effective stress management process, the smoker is not able to quit for any long period of time. This is evidenced by the smoker’s behavior. Many refuse to even try quitting until after a stressful period of their life subsides. Others report that they are able to quit until stress becomes too much in their lives. There is a vicious cycle created that most of the time smokers themselves don’t understand, so they believe that nicotine replacement therapy doesn’t work.
Many smokers are afraid of the weight they will gain if they quit smoking. Cigarettes help keep people from over-eating. The body works on a reward system, and especially in social situations, the body can accept a lack of food when it is rewarded with nicotine instead. Smokers tend to keep their mouths busy when they are bored or stressed or being social. With the lack of a cigarette, the only way to please the pleasure senses of the brain during these moments is to place food in the mouth instead.
Evaluating how to most effectively stop smoking also includes evaluating why someone started smoking in the first place. Nearly every interviewed smoker stated that when they started smoking, someone they looked up to was a smoker, whether it was a parent, friend, sibling, coach, or someone of positive influence in their life. Many admit to trying the habit out of curiosity, but many report they continued into addiction level smoking because it made them feel cool, especially around the individual that they had been looking up to. Scientific studies reveal that addiction happens quickly, between six months and one year.
However, there is emerging evidence that the addiction to nicotine isn’t that profound. We are told how addictive smoking is, and we believe that it is very addictive, and we believe that quitting is one of the hardest things we ever want to do. There is evidence arising that claims, and right now they are just claims, that by building all the hype around cigarette smoking and the difficulties of quitting are really mostly in the heads of smokers. The point they are trying to make is that when people are told that this is going to be very difficult and many people don’t succeed, they expect it to be impossible and thus they can’t continue with their plan to quit. There is logic in this, although there is probably a happy medium of truth between the view point that cigarette addiction is all mental and the statements that believe that smoking addictions are all physical.
There have been proven addictions to cigarettes, but they are about 50% physical and 50% emotional. That would insinuate that quitting smoking is really about deciding to quit without looking back and riding out a few difficult days of physical withdrawal. For some people, it really has been that easy.
Ten million cigarettes are sold worldwide every minute. About 1 in 3 adults smoke. Cigarettes are the most heavily advertised product in the United States, and cigarettes are the only product that when used as directed, is toxic. Cigarette butts that are disposed of improperly, such as flicking them on the sidewalk, are known to cause 15% of all wildlife deaths. These are all sobering facts. These are also facts which reveal the power that cigarettes hold over people.