Why do some people, known as smokers, repeatedly every day inhale poisonous tobacco fumes – and continue doing so for years, decades, or even the rest of their lives?
The short answer is because they find themselves unable to stop.
Now let’s look at why they start this abnormal and potentially lethal behaviour.
The simple reason is because cigarettes are available on largely unrestricted sale in every corner shop and supermarket throughout the land.
Most smokers start in their teen years, not from any need or benefit – there is none – but because of a false perception that smoking is cool, sophisticated, pleasurable, and will make them appear or feel grown up. Other reasons that may offered for smoking are that it relieves stress, aids socializing, or helps weight loss. And of those who experiment with smoking for any of these or other reasons, about two-thirds go on to become regular smokers.
The detrimental effects on health and the environment are well known. Indeed, many medical articles or internet sites on smoking start with a mantra: ‘Smoking is the biggest single preventable cause of death and disease.’ So it is, but what to do about this appalling situation?
The obvious step – banning the sale of tobacco products – is almost never mentioned. Why? Is the tobacco industry regarded as untouchable? Is it thought to be too difficult to implement, would cause an outcry, and lead to a black market? Does tobacco tax income trump health concerns in government circles?
Whatever the reason, why is this proposal almost never mentioned, let alone discussed, in parliament?
Continue smoking services
In the meantime, government funded stop smoking services are more like continue smoking services. Let me explain with an example.
In the Lancashire Telegraph of 27 June 2023 there is a story about one Kathryn Moulder who was smoking thirty cigarettes a day and who ‘has shared how she quit her habit [sic] after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.’ She used the quirkily named Quit Squad, a stop smoking service which, among other activities, ‘reminds people they are three times more likely to quit smoking with support from its service.’ Three times more likely than what?
Everything about this is wrong. I’m tired of repeating that smoking isn’t a habit: it’s drug addiction, the drug, of course, being nicotine. Nonetheless, this poor woman managed to quit smoking after she was diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease almost certainly caused by her smoking. A tragedy.
She said: ‘I’ve always been a smoker, smoking on average thirty cigarettes a day but after my diagnosis I knew I wanted to stop.’ She goes on:
When I first reached out to Quit Squad I was apprehensive and wasn’t feeling overly confident but now I am amazed and so thrilled to say I’m smoke-free. Quit Squad guided me through the process, but self-belief is so important: tell your head you’ve stopped, use patches and a vape if needed, and you’ll succeed.
Why couldn’t she have returned to the happy state of being a non-smoker without having to go through a ‘process’ and use nicotine patches and vapes? She partially understands this: it’s all in the head!
Now let’s hear from Charlotte Davies, Quit Squad manager, who says, encouragingly, ‘We understand that stopping smoking isn’t easy.’
Well, why isn’t stopping smoking easy? Or is it that it just doesn’t appear to be easy? Perhaps the answer is to be found in what Ms Davies, the manger – or should that be the Sergeant Major? – says next:
We know that for some, smoking is a coping mechanism, a part of their everyday lives, and something smokers may enjoy doing socially.
How can the manager of a stop smoking service be so abysmally ignorant about smoking? She thinks smoking for some is a coping mechanism, but how and for what does smoking help some people to cope? And what, pray, is enjoyable about sucking tobacco smoke into your lungs? She’s certainly right, however, to note that for some, smoking is a part of their everyday lives – that’s the trouble!
She then points out the obvious:
However, the effects on the body from smoking can be extremely harmful and quite often, life limiting.
Not to worry:
Our team of experts at Quit Squad offers excellent support and many people who use the service go on to stop for good.
Poor Ms Moulder. After a potentially fatal diagnosis she knew she wanted to stop smoking, but up till then, it seems, she didn’t want to stop. This is a big part of the problem: smokers don’t want to stop.
Then she found Quit Squad. The name suggests a military organization with people marching up and down. If I was in charge of a smoking quit squad, I’d be like the Sergeant Major: ‘Atten–SHUN! Cigarettes–OUT!’
Don’t get me wrong. If smokers, having poisoned themselves to the point of getting lung cancer then manage to quit with the help of Quit Squad, that’s great. And good luck to them. But this situation should never have arisen in the first place. Smoking should long ago have been banned.
Quitting for good
It’s a matter of smokers recognizing that they think they can’t stop, and saying to themselves that therefore they don’t want to stop. But at least, by this largely unconscious subterfuge they may salvage a bit of self respect.
On the other hand, if smokers can be helped to understand – very easy – through the Symonds Method how they come to have this mindset, they will have taken the first step to becoming non-smokers again and living the rest of their lives nicotine-free.
Text © Gabriel Symonds
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons