Tuesday 12 December 2017

Smoking: Sometimes it's good to be a quitter

Kate Moss on the catwalk for Louis Vuitton in Paris
Kate Moss on the catwalk for Louis Vuitton in Paris

Damien Maher

It LOOKS like cigarettes sold here will soon have to carry photographic warnings on their packaging in a bid to turn people off the habit. The Irish Cancer Society believes the graphic images will motivate smokers to think about quitting. In addition, pictorial warnings should also reduce the appeal of tobacco for those who are not yet addicted.

The statistics are frightening. Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in Ireland, killing half of all lifetime users. Almost 30pc of people in Ireland smoke and 16 people a day die from it. Smoking causes one-third of all cancers and nine out of 10 lung cancers.

The impact of smoking on healthcare costs, in terms of treatment services for cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases, is significant. In the next 10 years, if progress is not made on reducing the numbers smoking, it is estimated it will cost the health service in excess of €23 billion.


Research shows 70pc of smokers want to quit. So why don't they?

Let's stop for a moment and take a different perspective. We know a fraction of the benefits of not smoking include increased health, energy, longevity, quality of life, nicer teeth, hands, nails and younger looking skin. So what are the benefits of smoking?

There are none. In psychological behaviour models, bipolar disorder is described as when a person moves from being elated to depressed or vice versa. They never see the benefits of both sides at the same time.

How is your behaviour any different when you can see the benefits of not smoking but you are blind to smoking's benefits? And if you don't see their benefit, why do it?

Smokers use cigarettes as a form of stress relief. We are living in a fast-paced society and people find a cigarette calms and relaxes them. It reduces anxiety temporarily until, of course, you run out of cigarettes and your anxiety increases.

Smoking currently costs the economy at least €1m per day in lost productivity. Smoke breaks are a great excuse to step away from the desk if the pressure cooker of your job is getting too much. You can also start to make that eight-hour working day a seven-hour one, yet still get paid for eight.

Five days a week for at least 50 weeks a year means you will get paid an additional 250 hours' worth of income a year.

One of the biggest fears for the 70pc of people who want to give up is that they will gain weight. Celebrities sometimes smoke as a form of appetite suppression. The fear is if you give up smoking, you will do something else with your hands, namely eat, to relieve the anxiety.

The addiction is also fuelled by images -- how cool did the Marlboro Man look? Sponsorship of glamourous sports like grand prix racing and regular pictures of model Kate Moss with a fag in hand further bolster smoking's 'cool' image.

It is this 'monkey see, monkey do' attitude of looking at role models like celebrities, or even peers or parents, that attracts new users, as they find it easier to be part of the smoking crowd than to stand out from it.

Many people crumble under peer pressure as they are offered a cigarette by their friends, co-workers or partners. Indeed, when the smoking ban started, many relationships ended and new ones began.

The smoking room outside clubs and bars became a place where shy people could break the ice with the old reliable introduction: "Have you got a light?"

Like any addiction, whether it is food or smoking, you must recognise what the enjoyment is that you are receiving from it and look at healthier sources where you can obtain the same benefits.

Stress relief, self-esteem, confidence, comfort and feeling part of a crowd can all be obtained from smoking, but also through exercise, shopping, holidays and changing your lifestyle.

Jack Canfield, author of 'The Success Principals', says an event plus a response will be equal to your outcome.

The event could be stress, anxiety and peer pressure from friends or a blossoming new relationship with a partner who smokes. Your response could be to start smoking so you feel part of the crowd.

So if you are not happy with your outcome you need to change your responses to events in your life.


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