It Hit Me Like a Wall of Bricks

There are, it must be admitted, websites other than mine that claim to be able to cure smokers without nicotine, drugs, or willpower. What these sites offer are techniques. Now don’t get me wrong. If smokers after working their way through a ten-day course to learn how to replace the word ‘cigarette’ in their minds with the word ‘air’ whenever they feel the desire to smoke, and by this laborious process manage to quit, that’s great. And good luck to them.

One such that I discovered is called CBQ. This means, we are told, cognitive behavioural quitting (derived from cognitive behavioural therapy) which, when applied to smoking, will enable you to quit ‘naturally’. (What’s an unnatural way of quitting then?) It boils down to trying to change the way you think about smoking.

More explanation of CBQ is given in a TEDx talk by the developer of this system, an earnest young woman with a charming Greek accent called Nasia Davos. She waves her arms around all the time she speaks, but what does she actually say? Plenty, and a lot more on her Webinar, though I found it difficult to concentrate beyond the long autobiographical introduction.

Quaint use of English

The ‘wall of bricks’, incidentally, is what she felt hit her when she was confronted by the tragedy of her cousin dying from smoking induced lung cancer. Oh dear. You can say something hit you like a ton of bricks, or that you ran into a brick wall.

Although Ms Davos sports an MA in psychology, human behaviour, and psychoanalysis, no less, she doesn’t seem particularly clued up about why people smoke. Nor is she up to date about the annual global death toll from cigarettes that she puts at three million: the latest figure from the World Health Organisation, tragically, is seven million.

Ms Davos boasts of having read over 240 books and research papers on addiction. What she was hoping to discover, therefore, seems to have been rather elusive. Nor would her claimed knowledge of psychoanalysis have been of much help to find a cure for smoking. As is well known, psychoanalysis was developed by Sigmund Freud, but he died of throat cancer from a lifetime of smoking cigars that he was unable to stop.

Why smokers smoke

This is her explanation of why smokers smoke:

Smoking activates the reward areas of your brain like the nuleus accumbens [though later she calls it the craving spot] that cause you to release feel-good chemicals like dopamine. So you smoke again and again to replicate the pleasurable effects of dopamine…

The idea that smoking causes the release of dopamine is no more than a theory—it’s impossible to measure the level of dopamine or any other neurochemical in the living human brain—and it’s curious that she claims smokers smoke for pleasure. Do they see a vision of heaven or experience an orgasmic sensation every time they suck poisonous cigarette fumes into their lungs?

Another of her purported reasons for smoking is, ‘When you’re stressed you smoke to relax and feel better.’ This is surprising coming from someone who herself claims to have smoked a pack-a-day for ten years, as she does. How is it that smokers have so much stress they need a cigarette as a kind of tranquilliser twenty (or however many it is) times a day? Could it be that smoking causes the stress rather than relieves it?

Whether you smoke for pleasure or to relieve stress, or both, Ms Davos puts it succinctly: ‘The motive for smoking is to feel good.’

Then what was the smoker feeling just before he or she smoked that cigarette? Clearly, not good. And why was that? A little thought and discussion with smokers will reveal that the reason for not feeling good twenty times a day is the cigarette itself. But Ms Davos just doesn’t get it:

You will become a happy non-smoker when you discover new ways to relax and feel good without relying on cigarettes.

You will become a happy non-smoker (other things being equal) merely by stopping smoking.


And what about the dreaded cravings?

Ninety-four per cent of smokers who try to quit, fail because they don’t know how to manage their cravings.

The reason you suffer during a craving is because you don’t know how to keep your hands and mind busy until the craving is over.

There IS a simple way to knockout (sic) your cravings.

It would be tedious to critique all ninety minutes of the Webinar, but here is another quote to give you a further taste of her approach:

What I’ll tell you may not make sense but you’ll probably be able to feel it on some level. You don’t give [attempting to quit] your best shot. Because NOT giving it your best shot keeps the OPTION, the dream and the hope of successful quitting ALIVE. You must have faith, not fear.

All clear?

There has to be a better way. There is. It’s called the Symonds Method.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British doctor living in Japan who is interested in helping smokers quit. He has developed a unique simple method without nicotine, drugs, hypnosis or gimmicks that he has used successfully with hundreds of smokers. Further information can be found at

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diana - December 14, 2019 Reply

i smoked for over 40 years. and I went through Davos’ program and smoked my last cigarette on 6/4/19 and haven’t had one since. Davos is the real deal. Watching the webinar and going through the program are not the same. You do create a new neural pathway in the brain. I did. No will power, no grief of loss. No meds, no substitutes, no patches. I am free of a habit that enslaved me for over 40 years. YOu may undermine her all you want, but I speak from direct experience.

Amy - January 18, 2021 Reply

I was researching for Nasia Davos’s success page to leave a review for the CBQ and came across this. After reading your post… to say the least, it does not resemble Davos and her method and it seems like you have a grudge or personal issue with this woman. Let me reassure you her course is incredible it helped me stop smoking and improve many other aspects of my life. I have already recommended it to everyone I know, even non-smokers.

    Gabriel Symonds - January 21, 2021 Reply

    My critique of Ms Davos’s method is based on her website and webinar and is, of course, satire. I have no grudge or personal issue at all with her, and as I replied to another comment published on my website, it doesn’t matter how you quit smoking as long as you do it.

Dave - January 26, 2021 Reply

I just think its a bit of a turn off how you pretty much put Davos down and make it seem like YOU are the more clear answer. Like you said..however people stop smoking is wonderful! People stop over all sorts of methods. I’m sure you have a good one as well but you’d be better off focusing on your own positive way rather than dimming someone else’s shine to brighten your own.

    Gabriel Symonds - February 3, 2021 Reply

    Thank you for your comment, but it seems you are unable to appreciate satire.

    Nubia London - August 8, 2021 Reply

    I agree. Mr symonds focus on your method and stop dimming other methods. Be kind to yourself and stop thinking and let go of your obsession with Nasia Davos.

      Gabriel Symonds - August 10, 2021 Reply

      Thank you for your advice that I should be kind to myself and stop thinking.

      I find it curious that you regard my one post about Nasia Davos, written over three years ago, as an obsession.

Beth Runyan - March 19, 2021 Reply

I have a degree in English. This doesn’t read like satire, with which I am familiar. It truly does read like a hypercritical telling-off.

I have also completed the CBQ program. Granted, it’s only been a few days, but I’ve had little to no withdrawal symptoms.

    Gabriel Symonds - March 20, 2021 Reply

    Oh dear. I do seem to be getting some flack recently for my post on Nasia Davos’s quit smoking method. Now you tell me that it doesn’t read like satire, and you ought to know because you have a degree in English! But ‘hypercritical telling off’? Come now, Ms Runyan, surely you exaggerate.

    I am genuinely pleased to hear you have completed the CBQ program and so far have had no withdrawal symptoms—I do hope you stay a non-smoker.

    Incidentally, I am not only critical of Ms Davos. A couple of years ago I pointed out some inaccuracies on her website including the statement that quitting smoking is the cure for COPD. This she corrected—not that I received any thanks.

Jeff - March 24, 2021 Reply

“(What’s an unnatural way of quitting then?)”
The answer to that is rather simple: giving nicotine by other method to cure nicotine addiction, or a prescription that gives you nightmares or suicidal thoughts.
Skipped though your blog when you mentioned the accent and waving of arms – very relevant.

    Gabriel Symonds - March 26, 2021 Reply

    Thank you for filling in the blank about ‘unnatural quitting’.

    Your last remark appears to be sarcasm. Perhaps I should attach a notice to my blogs saying something like: ‘Warning. These blogs are written in a satirical fashion which some people may not appreciate.’

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