But I Like to
I hear that so much when the subject of
quitting smoking cigarettes comes up. They always say it with such
over-enthusiasm that its hard to believe them.
Harder for me, because I know that they are lying, and they
dont even know it themselves. They only think they like to smoke. Their
bodies, if they could talk without their brains, may have another take on smoking
But what the smokers are really saying to me is, "I
like satisfying my urge to smoke, and Ive grown accustomed to the taste
and smell." It may also mean that they like the ritual of smoking.
What they like is that cigarettes are dependable,
handy, and contribute to the smokers self-image. Ive even heard them
called, "my best friend", by a man who knew full well that this "friend"
was killing him. Yet he made almost rational excuses for continuing to
What originally attracted and ultimately addicted most of
us to smoking was not the physical act itself. Clearly, if that were the case,
wed have enjoyed the first cigarette we smoked.
It would have given us the "pure pleasure" that the ads
claimed it would. But how many people do you know who truly enjoyed their first
cigarette and went on to become a pack a day smoker immediately?
Ive never heard of one.
No, the first time was not pleasant for anyone. It was a
painful, nauseating, ugly experience for most. My throat hurt, first from the
smoke, then from the prolonged coughing that followed.
I became sick to my stomach, and had that
for hours. Brushing my teeth didnt seem to get that taste out of my mouth.
But did I see the experience for what it truthfully was,
and vow never to do it again?
I went on to overcome the challenge to my better senses
and became that pack a day smoker. I figured if the rest of my gang could do it,
I could too
or die trying.
Which brings us to why we really began to smoke
and why we continue to smoke. What were we really after with that first
Can we all agree it was not for the pleasure of
the "smoking experience"?
It was, I believe, mainly for three reasons.
First, to appear more mature than our looks and age would otherwise have others
We thought, if I smoke like an adult, then Ill
look more like an adult. And that was true
but only to the other children our
age and younger.
The real adults saw us smoking and said to
themselves, look how young that kid with the cigarette is.
Second, smokers look sexy. At least thats the
way they were portrayed to me at every turn when I was growing up.
All from John Wayne to Liz Taylor to James Dean
have had moments in film when the cigarette played an important role toward
projecting that sexuality the director was looking for in that shot. Wayne even
did television commercials for cigarettes.
And if "The Duke" said it was good, who was a thirteen,
fourteen, fifteen year old to say or think differently? Posing with a
or at least it used to be.
Third is the one I alluded to above. To be
accepted by our peers. If everyone in your group smoked, you were definitely the
odd man out if you didnt.
It was fun to be part of an illicit group act.
To jointly rebel by breathing smoke from fire.
But now, all these years later, how valid are
those original reasons to smoke? How much is the "liking" to smoke still based
in those original reasons?
What if none of those reasons are valid any
longer? What does that mean now?
Is the smoker saying they like being addicted
to nicotine, and smelling offensively to those around them who do not smoke?
What I believe is that even though the original
reasons for beginning to smoke have long since expired, they are still the
driving force behind our smoking.
They are programs still running in our
subconscious. They justify and validate the ridiculous behavior of
breathing toxic smoke from poisonous weeds wrapped in paper chemically treated
to keep the fire going.
Without them, we would really have no reason to
smoke, no motivation.
But do we realize this on a conscious level?
No, obviously we do not.
When we even consider why we continue to smoke,
we say it is because were addicted to the nicotine, and its too difficult to
I think thats nonsense.
How can we be addicted to nicotine thats not
been in our systems for years, decades?
Yet many smokers relapse into their old habits,
and at their old levels of consumption after any number of years.
Recently I heard of a man abstaining for twenty
years, and was back to a pack a day within three days of his return to
Couldnt have been nicotine addiction, could
Ive heard that nicotine is more addictive than heroin. In
fact, I recently saw a survey of one thousand long-term heroin addicts who were
also long-term smokers, who were asked that specific question.
I seem to remember that about 40% said that they could
quit heroin easier than cigarettes. Seems like an awfully powerful drug, doesnt
Yet heres a postulation. Take any number of
subjects who are neither addicted to heroin or nicotine, and put two patches on
One will be a measured dose of heroin, the
other nicotine, each calculated to addict.
After one month, I believe every single one of the test
subjects would rather give up the nicotine patch before the heroin patch.
Why? Because the nicotine isnt doing anything for them.
There is no real "high" from nicotine.
So what is it thats so addicting? I believe
its the craving to meet those needs established by those original three
reasons, which are still running inside us.
We still want to appear mature, sexy, and fit
in. We were committed to achieve that by smoking.
We are still committed to those reasons. But we
never think about that anymore.
We just act it out.
What can be done? Then whats
Its this. Stop those old
programs from running in our subconscious. Rethink the reasons. And not just
once or twice.
These programs have been running a long time,
and reinforced by smoking hundreds of thousands of times.
It doesnt take hundreds of thousands of
reprogramming events to change or delete those old programs.
When the body is moving away
from pain, it tends to take greater strides than it will toward pain.
Smoking is painful, even if the smoker cannot
consciously feel that pain any longer.
Sometimes changing ones mind at its core can be
experienced in a blazing epiphany in a flash of a moment.
But not often.
The type of change to lose the urge to smoke
generally consists of acts not monumental, but incremental.
Bit by bit, piece by piece, those reasons can
be removed from the subconscious.
Once thats done, there is no reason left to smoke,
therefore no urge.
The difference between just stopping smoking and removing
the reasons for smoking is the difference between being a smoker living in
denial and truly being a non-smoker.
The first has urges that are constantly,
perpetually, subconsciously denied.
The second never has an urge because they never
have a reason creating one.
No matter how much a person says they like to smoke, I've
never found one who didn't like not smoking even more.
We cannot change the past, but we can
change the way we remember it, and how those memories affect our lives today.