The news prompts me to share insights and methods to quit smoking permanently, tailored to everyone’s specific needs! It’s a lot of text but not complicated.
One of the major cigarette producers placed a full-page advertisement in my paper paper (Why such big letters – does smoking also ruin eyesight?) that suggests that to stop smoking altogether would be the best policy, but … in case you don’t, they’ll sell you smokeless cigarettes, which are “less harmful.” (My paper does not run tobacco ads anymore, but obviously they made an exception here.) This is like a robber proudly saying: I know that’s it not good to try to kill people to steal their money. I’m working on robbing them without killing them. What a saint, no?
This is extra blunt because cigarette smoking in Israel, for the first time in years, is up, the paper mentioned the day before.
The pseudo-moral ad, almost subliminally, reinforces the misconception that smoking would enlarge a statistical “health risk.” It really said that. The raw truth: every cigarette smoked causes direct emotional, physical, interpersonal and societal damage and further is a waste of one’s resources and life. The collateral damage of “second-hand smoke” for bystanders is not much less and there are no laws anywhere against smoking in a house or car with others present (children!) – actually: why on earth not?!
every cigarette smoked causes direct emotional, physical, interpersonal and societal damage and further is a waste of one’s resources and life
The ethics of cigarette producers must be lower than the conscience of weapon producers (at least weapons can be used against violence) and sellers of ineffective but damaging drugs (at least some perception drugs may help restore better health). [Full disclosure: I’m a DES survivor.]
NB: There is no principal difference between smoking cigarettes, cigars, clay or water pipes.
Just Don’t Do It
To make life much better and quit smoking, one first needs to know one’s enemy. Cigarette smoking causes:
- Fear to subside – but it does not really take away nervousness! Rather, it get stored in the subconscious. You’re not smoking because you’re uneasy but you’re tense because you smoke! When you stop smoking, the fear comes back, inviting more cigarettes. The cigarette does not cure anything – it just brings along more cigarettes – great for business! But when you don’t give in, you typically get three weeks of anxiety and nightmares (smoking suppresses effective dreaming). They are not forever. They are just overdue emotional and physical maintenance. You can take it. They pass. Especially fast after spontaneously trembling, blushing and perspiring, your fears will heal. (No one knows how trembling, blushing and perspiring work, but they work anyway.) And then you’re calm again as you haven’t been in a long time.
- Feeling nothing. That could feel much better than feeling tired, stressed, etc. So when you quit, you may feel exhausted, hardly able to get out of bed in the morning, feeling half-dead. This passes in weeks. One morning, you’ll wake up refreshed as you haven’t felt in years. And that every day after that. Feeling numb is being stuck emotionally; when you feel bad, at least you’re feeling; talk, cry, laugh about it without any drugs, and you will also feel good. (No one knows how talking, crying and laughing work, but they work anyway.) When you feel pessimistic, just know that if you stay around long enough, evil will raise its ugly head, but so will goodness emerge better than ever. Survive long enough to see its victory. You might also start coughing! No, that doesn’t prove that smoking is healthy and quitting kills! (I have a booklet from the cigarette industry that claims this! Written by a physician.) Healthy lungs clean themselves when dirt gets stuck in them, but cigarettes block this. The return of this function is good news. Bear it all and enjoy that you’re on a path to better health. The coughing will stop when you don’t need it anymore.
- Hyper focus. Very handy for writers. However, the price is great. Heightened attention can be achieved from the inside! The immediate result of this artificial high is that it is followed by a rebound low. The cigarette does not cure anything – it just brings along more cigarettes – great for business! Great for artists as art often becomes much more valuable after one’s death. But you could produce much more if you’d do it the natural way – and escape being a production machine.
- Sense of belonging. All your buddies smoke? Your entire family? Want one? Till death does you part? Really, your only concern is that you will have enough friends or family at your wake and funeral? Suggest to quit together. Make now friends. Don’t meet in pubs. Declare and make your home and office a smoke-free zone (ashtrays, matches, lighters and all the hidden emergency tobacco supply to the dustbins). If you don’t have a steady partner yet, s/he will be a non-smoker too – together building a healthy home. Just what kids deserve.
Side effects – that no one seeks, and go away with quitting:
- Out of breath. Stops soon after quitting. Could take a week.
- Numbness. Tiredness returns, but that’s for feeling it while it is on its way out. Yawning helps speeding up healing the many physical hurts you caused or ignored by smoking. (No one knows how yawning works, but it works anyway.) Better down than a zombie! There is nothing we cannot handle! Crying heals pain and has no bad side effects. (No one knows how crying works, but it works anyway.)
- Smell and taste. A couple of weeks after stopping with smoking, smell and taste return. what great food options we have – not just to fill our stomachs but also to enjoy food – in moderation.
- Kissing you. Won’t taste like licking a full ashtray anymore. Babies and others don’t need to cringe any longer when you talk to them.
- Others. You are no longer harming the health of your family members and colleagues. (Not feeling guilty as a parent all the time, is hard enough without us smoking and a child developing asthma or lymphoma.) Your breath and your clothes don’t smell revolting anymore.
- Cleaning. You do not need to clean the curtains and repaint the ceiling every half year.
- Money. Suddenly you have much more of it, to spend on worthwhile things.
- Bad example. When you don’t smoke, you’ll inspire others. Preferably to never start. Talk to young school children.
- Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer in many smokers. Rather, almost all people with lung cancer were heavy smokers or had partners who were heavy smokers. But you can’t turn it around and thereby expect that many smokers will get more than microscopic lung cancer. It’s a rare disease – though caused almost exclusively by cigarette smoking as we mentioned above. Rather, cigarette smoke gives cancers throughout the body. So cigarettes do not take away life’s suspense. It won’t be clear which cancer one will get.
- Smoking kills. It kills but most of the time only after it maims. Smoking makes most people invalids for years, and only then it kills. More likely than malignant cells taking over your life, is trouble from smoke-induced clogged and fragile arteries: heart attacks, strokes, impossibility to walk more than a meter or two per ten minutes. (After seven years of not smoking, your heart attack risk returns to the value of people who never smoked.) And it gives pneumonia resulting in slowly ruining the things we use for breathing. I knew someone who spent the last ten years of his life out-of-breath – and not a little. He could literally not lift a finger without turning blue. If you hate to be severely handicapped, stop smoking. If you want some good return on your health fund contributions: continue.
- Smoking harms your health. If you ask me, the worst effect by far of cigarette smoking is not an enormous attack on one’s health (it is), but rather that it makes one a zombie, an emotional invalid. A Dutch saying goes: a pipe smoker is no firebrand. Smokers take it all in stride. So they will not try to be activists, stand on the barricades and bother the exploiters, the rulers and the ruling class, who benefit the most from our imperfect society. It is the best opium for the masses. No doubt one of the main reasons why smoking is legal in all societies. (Certainly, excise duties (an extra indirect tax for the most down-trodden) come in handy too.) If you like to contribute to honesty and justice and a better social future for all: quit smoking.
- Better to reduce smoking. When one smokes less cigarettes, one will inhale deeper to get the same effect. Until there is a crisis – there always will be – that’s life, when we have a “reason” to return to the old amount.
Get the above information into your brain. Knowledge is power.
Problem: all the above makes smokers scared, at which emotion they’re used to light up again.
Therefore: know that ending smoking is easier than to continue, after some initial short-term hardship of withdrawal symptoms. Your chances to live and stay healthy improve greatly the sooner you stop: it does make a difference. Don’t procrastinate; tomorrow never comes; one of these days is none of these days. Some things get better almost immediately upon quitting. Like you get more air. (The carbon monoxide in the smoke binds to and disables ten percent of your hemoglobin, leaving you breathless in no time.) Some things stay bad: one may get lung cancer 25 years after quitting; but this still is a rare occurrence, won’t get less likely by continuing, and at least these 25 years you lived a better life, in many ways.
So be optimistic, notice how things develop upon quitting and you won’t need the cancer sticks anymore ever.
To stop smoking for good is easier when you know what to expect and come prepared. Forewarned, forearmed.
Then, it differs from person to person what keeps someone hooked to these coffin nails. Therefore, each needs to create and seek tailor-made support. Here are some examples:
- Concentration. You used cigarettes to focus artificially, then instead focus without drugs. Notice how after work without coffee and cigarettes you are less exhausted. Any tiredness goes away with resting, yawning, and sleeping. (Caffeine robs you of deep sleep and so makes you wake up tired, to a fresh cup of coffee – great business!)
- Do something with your hands. Use a spinner, doodle with a pen.
- Something in your mouth. Suck a lollipop? (Ask your dentist.)
- Habit. You’re used to smoke after a meal? Go for a walk instead. You’re used to smoke when you drink coffee or are on the phone with a friend? Make new habits: doodle, go for a walk. You’re used to smoke after intimacy? Have a tea. Don’t just quit the habit – replace it by something good or neutral. Be creative – you can think of something.
- Nervous. Go exercising, swimming or jogging – exert your body and you’ll feel great. You also may have to talk about anxiety to someone who really listens to you without making an issue out of anything you share – that also reduces worries. No matter if it’s your spouse, a friend or a therapist. It that’s impossible, keep a diary. Don’t hoard up your emotions. Don’t take drugs – share your words. Not only will you live longer and healthier – you will be more alive while at it!
- Craving. You must have a smoke right now! Give it to me! Well, the good news is that this very strong “unbearable” feeling always cowardly fades away after 120 seconds! Just sit there and smile and feel pleased how much you are the boss over your own life. Life can be so sweet.
- Pray. Since there is no atheist in a foxhole, you don’t need to be religious to pray. Millions prove that it can be done, but still, smoking is one of the hardest habits to quit. Ask others to bless you.
- Tricks. Some have used all kinds of tricks to their advantage: nicotine chewing gum, acupuncture, special teas, looking at dreadful lung pictures or statistics, you name it. If you use all my above suggestions, I doubt it you need any tricks, but do it your way. Some people are helped by a doctor telling them to stop, some stopped cold-turkey without any help or preparation. Some like to brag about what they are about to do/just did and some like to move quietly. Whatever works works. In any case, will power is the best trick. It is not true that anyone was a weak will; the only problem is a strong but false conviction that you have a weak will.
- New addictions. Backlogged health and emotional issues will come up. Take them seriously. You need to sleep more, talk more about upsets and nightmares, about depression and exhaustion. Don’t flee into alcohol, over-eating, sugar, over-sexing, over / under the counter / prescription drugs. Don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire. Complain rather than hurt yourself in new ways.
- Eating. A special word on food. When you’ve quit, your body needs less calories. Sports may help you feel better instead of cigarette numbness, and may also keep your weight in check.
- Moods. Don’t be a constant grouch. Sad is almost always better than angry. Admit that you don’t feel great. Happens to the best of us. Especially after cutting out a numbing drug. You can still smile. Actually, smiling may make you feel happy – not the other way around. So don’t wait until you’re happy – lift those corners of your mouth, look at the bright side of life and the half of the glass that’s full, and live life as it should be lived: with good cheer!
- Failure. Even if you tried stopping for 39 times and went back to smoking, the only proper approach is to quit the 40th time. Failure can be discouraging, but it can also motivate you to show that you’ve been there before and now know better. Earlier. you may have lacked some of the above information and preparation, that now can help you. In any case, there is no proof that you can’t do it.
Now the best. What could be better than to stop smoking? I’ll tell you. Helping others to quit. Not by preaching at them – you should know better after this. Rather, by giving them the information, preparing them for what to expect and helping them to set up things so that they can succeed indefinitely.
When Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg decided to support the campaign to end all illness, they certainly meant to include all self-inflicted illness – which does not need any financial investment. Help make the cigarette industry go bust!