Oh, For the Love of Smoking!

Why do people smoke when they know that smoking is bad for themselves? Reasons range from self-deception to “ignorance is bliss.” A popular video-advertisement from Thailand recently broadcasted the hypocrisy and foolishness of smokers, by sending children to ask for lighters. The love affair with smoking is intense, and quitting always seems so hard for smokers. One writer says that smoking “gives me something to look forward to every morning, allows me to remove myself from dull conversations at parties and dinners and miraculously helps me both relax and concentrate all at once. Every one is like a little hug.” How do you compete with that?

The BBC produced an interesting 50-minute episode of their documentary series Horizon, called “We Love Cigarettes.” They talk about historical cases that lead to the admission that nicotine is addictive, as well as the early years in which doctors not only regularly smoked, but they endorsed them without hesitation.

The video also shows a few individuals who believe they have found miracle cures for smoking. For example, one man utilized cognitive-based sessions in which they challenge beliefs and bust myths, such as the myth that nicotine patches work. This isn’t a particularly mind-blowing revelation, but the explanation is insightful. Another myth busted is that smokers must have willpower in order to quit. This is of course an example of a far less obvious myth, and the explanation is yet again very informative.

Another person offering help for smoking cessation describes her story with the drug “Zyban,” which she used to great success. Apparently the chance of quitting doubles as a result of Zyban consumption. “The drug works,” the narrator says, “because it targets the same chemical [dopamine] that nicotine boosts in the brain.” But this isn’t just some advertisement for therapists – the individual who peddles this drug actually makes absolutely no money from it. She just genuinely wants to help people. As for the man with his reason-based therapy, the video takes time throughout for him to dispel the false beliefs – it’s not a teaser that ends with “and buy my stuff later!”

One more man worth mentioning is a very interesting character in China. He travels around the country to stop people in the street in order to pay them not to smoke. There’s no telling whether or not this is effective, but the man is on a serious mission, and not even his family can stop him.

As you can see, this is a pretty interesting documentary for smokers. Especially for those who want to quit. But the problem is that people like smoking too much, isn’t it? One survey suggests otherwise:

Most smokers do not enjoy smoking, according to a survey conducted by a company that makes products to help people break the habit.

The third annual Nicorette South African Smoking Survey included 14 308 men and women across all education levels, income groups and races, in all nine provinces. [. . .] A total of 7 761 surveys were completed, and 6 547 partially completed.

When asked whether they enjoyed smoking, 62% of men and 68% of women indicated that they did not. Three-quarters of smokers had tried to give up in the past 12 months, but only a third had succeeded.

For most smokers, the strongest motivation for quitting was health concerns. Only 17% of men and women said higher tobacco taxes or expensive cigarettes would motivate them to stop.

Indeed, if the health problems don’t motivate people to quit, the economic impact probably will. There are always tips to help you to quit safely, but ultimately this is an issue of will.

There’s a lot of confusion and even bogus science when it comes to smoking, but one thing is for certain: The first step to quitting is the desire to do so; and that’s something that no therapist or drug can force on another.

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5 Responses to Oh, For the Love of Smoking!

  1. Six8ten says:

    I’m not, and have never been, a smoker. In the last few years before I came to Japan, several restaurants and bars had voluntarily gone smoke-free, and just before I left a city ordinance passed making all public buildings a no-smoking zone. While the smokers did complain (and I could see the point of creating a “smokers bar” or some such for them, which wasn’t possible under the terms of the ordinance), it was very nice to be able to come home from a night out and not feel like you had to burn your clothes and take several showers because of the nasty second-hand smoke smell. That’s only a small exaggeration- I would actually hang my clothes outside to air them out due to the smoke smell. Prior to this, most restaurants had separate smoking and no-smoking sections, in most cases walled off with separate air systems, though the bars had been a free for all.

    Then I came to Japan, and it seemed that everybody- male and female- and their dog smoked. One of the restaurants nearby had a non-smoking section that consisted of two tables in the center of the restaurant, all other tables surrounding them being the smoking section. A walk down the street on a rainy day consisted of dodging eye-gouging umbrellas (an unfortunate side effect of being somewhat taller than average) and dodging arm-burning cigarettes as people walked around carelessly dangling small burning things in their hands. Over the time I’ve lived in Japan, I’m glad to say things have come a long way. It seems to me that the overall percentage of smokers is lower than when I got here, quite a few places are now smoke-free or at least have better separated sections, and people seem a bit more aware of where they are dangling their little burning brands (I believe there was a public awareness campaign a while back on that). I have no statistics or studies to back any of that up, it’s all impression and anecdotal evidence, but it appears to be a trend for the better that I’ve noticed.

    • Ryo says:

      Hey six8ten, thanks for the comment!

      I have heard from several people that “Japan is changing” with regards to smoking laws; but anecdotally, I don’t see any improvement. Not yet, at least.

      The sad thing is that I know you’re not exaggerating – a night out ends in Japan with the airing out of your disgustingly smoke-scented clothing. And non-smoking sections are usually, like you said, a complete joke. The pane of glass that reaches up to your chest, or a pointless wicker curtain that’s more symbolic than practical? I don’t even know what the point is. It’s odd that train stations are just about the only places to find legitimate smoking sections.

      I anticipate positive changes, but I still think it’ll be a while. And all though it would be healthier than breathing the air in clubs or izakaya here in Japan, I’m not going to hold my breath.

  2. Jon Allen says:

    I’m not too bothered about the people who already smoke the question is how do we prevent children from starting the habit?
    How many studies are done on that?
    What attracts them to start and how we stop it?

  3. Khairil says:

    I tried to stop smoking over and over again befroe finally finding a method to quit smoking that actually worked long term.The best way to stop smoking is to completely change your location for one week. This can be timed to go along with a vacation or you can specifically plan to be out of town or away from home for a week in order to stop smoking. The change of scenery and routine completely changes your cravings, which are largely habit based. Without your same daily routine, your craving for cigarettes will be interrupted.You must get through the first day. You will probably not feel the craving for cigarettes the first day because of the upheaval of your routine. To help this along, try to make your routine for the week as different from your normal day as possible. Get up at a completely different time, eat your meals at different times than you normally would and change your bedtime for he week.Stay busy all day and the third day will soon be over.After a week away, the nicotine will be out of your system and you will feel better than you have in a long time. Going home again can be stressful because you may fear that you will fall into your own patterns, In order to keep this from happening, make a new routine at home to keep you from craving a cigarette. This can mean changing which rooms you spend time in or taking a walk after dinner instead of lighting up. With a new routine, you won’t miss smoking as much. The air will smell sweeter and your food will taste better.

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