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 literally 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’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.