Tough Choices: Smoking — 5 Reasons Why I Can’t Give Up

Old habits are hard to break, that’s all true but it isn’t impossible. Some people succeed and some struggle to work their way up the goal ladder. I started smoking early, my friends and I snuck into an abandoned house in the suburbs of West Virginia. Not only is it the 41st largest state by area, it’s also one of the states with the largest number of smokers. Back in 2016, West Virginia was rated as the state with the highest smoking rates with 26.7% adult smokers ranking as the 3rd highest state with lung cancer-related deaths per year and the 2nd highest state with premature deaths per year. Furthermore, I’ve done my own digging and have found out that cigarette smoke contains over “4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These cigarette ingredients include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.” No wonder prolonged exposure and ingestion of cigarette smoke can be extremely hazardous to one’s health. 

These numbers alone should be scary enough for anyone to quit smoking, but me? I just can’t. Alright, these are laboratory numbers and are statistical representations of actual cases but the thought of smoking’s hazardous effects seem to magically just fade away as soon as I stare at a cigarette. Vaporizers are one way of helping alleviate the upshots of smoking but it’s clearly just choosing the lesser evil. Switching from smoking to vaping is a healthier alternative but nothing is of course as healthy as not smoking at all. Smokers would understand, especially those who are struggling to quit smoking like me. I’ve done a lot of thinking why I find it hard to quit smoking altogether and I want to share with my thoughts with my fellow would-be quitters and hope to contribute to how people would understand why it’s hard to simply just ditch smoking entirely. I believe that understanding the reason behind the struggles of many smokers would also help someone find a better remedy to help smokers finally eschew this dangerous habit. Here are the 5 reasons I find which makes smoking arguably the hardest habit to break.  

  1. I’m surrounded by smokers

I remember the time I decided to quit smoking and told my coworkers of my decision and while I have found that I have changed my perspective, I noticed that I haven’t exactly changed that of my environment. During breaks, I would talk to my friends like I usually do and find myself in the company of people who smoke during lunch breaks, the kind of person I was just yesterday before I decided to stop smoking. The first few days were OK but the more this drags on the more I see myself trying to avoid my friends. I have been told that second-hand smoking is still as dangerous to one’s health. Studies have shown that non-smoking people that have been exposed to secondhand smoke were found with traces of cotinine – a byproduct of nicotine — in their bodily fluids. Furthermore, exposure to secondhand smoke caused more than 7,300 lung cancer deaths in the years from 2005 to 2009 amongst non-smoking adults in the United States alone. 

  1. I associate smoking with stress and even accomplishments

Again, smokers would understand. If you’re stressed from work or with whatever life throws at you smoking will help you get by and help you cope up with stressful situations. We know that stress is a part of life and people who live and work in a fast-paced environment are more exposed to stressful situations. I am certain and believe without doubt or question that I feel better after smoking when I’m stressed out. However, medical researches show that smoking does not in any way relieve stress and in fact, could even cause more stress and anxiety. While nicotine can be considered as a mood-altering chemical compound which many would think could help reduce stress, it actually causes the body to experience increased stress, “blood pressure and heart rate increase, muscles become tense, and less oxygen is available to the body and brain. The feelings of relief described by people who smoke may just be relief from short-term symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine.”  

Funnily enough, apart from its phantom stress relieving properties, smoking gives me a sense of closure whenever I accomplish things. This can be connected to cigarettes ability to get your brain to release dopamine through nicotine.  

  1. Coffee and cigarettes are a perfect match

A busy office street is more likely to have coffee shops than diners, that’s because of the majority of ‘stressed out,’ busy people are more likely to frequent coffee shops over diners because nothing perks you up like smoking cigarettes and a strong cup of joe.  

They say smoking cigarettes will dull your taste buds allowing you to taste less of the bitters from caffeinated beverages and leave you to believe that smoking, in fact, enhances the experience when paired with a cup of coffee, maybe that’s why coffee tastes better with a cigarette than just coffee alone. And while this is in no way true since you’re not getting the full spectrum of your coffee in terms of flavor, for me, it still — psychologically — makes cheap and cold coffee taste a lot better.  

  1. It’s tough to socialize without smoking 

Probably my lamest reason why I find it hard to quit is that in most cases I find that smoking is an easy way to break the ice.  

It’s extremely hard to think that while I do my best to forgo smoking, the time I spend with my friends who smoke when they smoke still affects me in several ways to the very least. I find that it’s counterproductive and leaves me in a situation where I get lost between choosing to hang out with my coworkers during lunch breaks or look like a total outsider, being left alone and staying inside the office during times where I would usually go outside and enjoy the company of my friends.  

  1. The thoughts of withdrawal

I know and have seen other people who struggled to drop smoking and have experienced bad withdrawal symptoms from sweating, tingling of the hands and of the feet, to more serious manifestations like insomnia, irritability, and weight gain.  

Final thoughts 

Knowing and understanding what makes it hard for a smoker to quit smoking will help you a solid plan to finally quit smoking. You can search online for the best vaporizer to help you quit smoking, you can strategically plan ahead using gums and patches, and maybe organize and arrange your schedule so you won’t have to miss time offs with your friends. With dedication and a strong will to abandon the habit, you can conquer the common pitfalls of those who fail and struggle in quitting.