Don’t mention addiction…
The first study of smokers who quit was published in 1958. Not surprisingly, those who smoked fewer cigarettes found it easier to give up. It was ten years before the subject was researched again, but in the seventies and eighties interest intensified, and more than 200 studies into quitting have been published.
In the late seventies, expert opinions were sharply polarised. Psychologists believed smoking was a bad habit that would respond to therapy, while scientists insisted it was a simple addiction. In the eighties, health educators started to mention the A word – but they were reluctant to emphasise it, because “addict” brings to the mind an image of a helpless victim. So they chose the message that you could quit smoking simply by stubbing out your last cigarette and throwing the packet away. This was not enough to inspire people to give up. It worked for some, but then every kind of technique from hypnotherapy to herbal teas, works for a few people. Unfortunately 65% of those who quit will relapse within a year or two.
There was another good reason for underplaying addiction: apart from its negative connotation, little could be done about it. This has now changed with the introduction of nicotine replacement therapies. These provide the drug that smokers desire but in a clean form. It is not nicotine but the tar and other harmful chemicals found in tobacco that kills 150,000 Britons every year. Smokers can now buy their therapy from their pharmacists in the form of nicotine chewing gums or skin patches that deliver decreasing doses of nicotine through the skin over three month period. The 16- hour patches can be removed at bedtime, and other patches provide 24- hour cover. No one yet knows which is more effective.
Ironically, the gum and patches cost about the same as 20 cigarettes a day – although the three-month treatment is a very good investment if it works. In a few years smokers will also be able to buy nicotine sprays and inhalers, which will deliver their fix even faster.
…and don’t forget pleasure
Health educators and clinic doctors are unlikely to prove successful if they treat smoking as just an addiction and try to forget the P factor – that smoking is also pleasurable. The addiction theory suggests that smokers light their first cigarette of the day to enjoy a buzz from the nicotine, and that every subsequent cigarette is smoked to avoid the effects of nicotine withdrawal. But smokers enjoy their cigarettes and light up to augment other social pleasures such as having a coffee after a meal, socializing with friends, or simply to have a few quiet moments to themselves. They use cigarettes to break the ice when they meet someone new, or as a way of sharing joy with a friend.
A cigarette smoker takes 10 drags from every cigarette, each one of which delivers a dose of nicotine to the brain within seven seconds. Smokers on 20 a day raise their hands to their mouths 200 times a day. Smoking is an addiction, a pleasure and a very strong habit.
National exam | Arts Stream 2002 | Ordinary Session with Answers.