Myth No 1: Smoking is a habit
Smoking is not a habit. It’s nicotine addiction. Medical science categorises it both as an addiction and a disease. If it were simply a habit, you would find it easy to break the habit. We’re in the habit of driving on the left side of the road in Australia but find no problem switching to the right when overseas. Habits are easy to change if you have the desire to do so.
Most smokers have a horror of drugs, yet that’s exactly what they are – drug addicts. Fortunately it is an easy drug to kick (as long as you know how), but you need first to accept that you’re addicted. This is important. Unless you accept this, you will not succeed.
Before we start smoking, our body is complete. When we smoke, we force nicotine into our system and when we put the cigarette out and the drug starts to leave, our body experiences withdrawal – not physical pain, just an empty feeling. We’re scarcely even aware of it, but it’s like a dripping tap inside us. Our rational mind doesn’t understand it. All we know is that we want a cigarette, and when we light it the craving goes, and at that moment we’re content and confident again just as we were before we got addicted. However, it’s not REAL satisfaction, merely the ending of a period of dissatisfaction caused by the withdrawal from the nicotine in the previous cigarette. What’s more, this FAKE satisfaction is only temporary because, in order to relieve the craving, you have to put more nicotine into your body by lighting another. As soon as you extinguish that cigarette the craving starts again, and so the chain goes on. It’s a chain for life – unless you break the cycle.
When I ask smokers why they smoke, they often answer: “Because I like the taste of a cigarette”.
When I was a smoker I said the same, and this is a classic example of how, as smokers, we are brainwashed to believe all sorts of things about smoking which are in reality mere illusions. After all, if I ran out of my normal brand and could only find a brand that I found distasteful, did I not smoke? No way! I would smoke anything, even if it tasted foul. I bet you would too. So I obviously wasn’t smoking for the taste.
Perhaps you didn’t know that tobacco companies mix their tobacco with thousands of chemicals.
These additional compounds make up 10% of the weight of each cigarette.
And why are they added to tobacco?
There are two main reasons:
1) In order to make smoking less unpalatable.
2) In order to make the absorption of nicotine more effective.
Chemicals are added to make the tobacco burn more effectively. Other compounds are added to reduce the unpleasant taste and the irritation of inhaling the smoke into your lungs.
Even so, the first cigarette we ever smoke still tastes awful and it takes us some time to get used to it. In fact, we have to go through an unpleasant learning process just to build up a tolerance to the foul taste and smell of whichever brand we are learning to smoke.
Interestingly however, you will find only three ingredients listed on the packaging of your cigarettes: 1) tar 2) nicotine 3) carbon-monoxide.
Where is the list of all the other ingredients? Why aren’t they included as well? Why aren’t ammonia, methanol, methane, butane and acetyl – just a few of the chemicals that are added to tobacco – also listed?
This is strange, because at the supermarket you’ll find that the ingredients of every item of food are marked on the packaging one by one, including all kinds of preservatives and artificial colouring and flavouring chemicals.
Of course, cigarettes are not food. On the other hand, their ingredients are taken into your body just the same, so it would be nice to know exactly what those ingredients are. Bear in mind that in Australia in excess of 80% of the price of a pack of cigarettes goes to the Government in the form of taxation. Is this why tobacco companies can get away without listing the precise ingredients on their packaging?
So, while you’re smoking your next cigarette, remember that it’s not a habit, it’s nicotine addiction. We get addicted to nicotine first, and then we get into the habit of smoking in order to feed that addiction. Fortunately the addiction is easy to break provided you use the correct method.