To smoke or not to smoke

There’s a zoning restriction at the office where they slap administrative memos on those who were caught smoking on designated non-smoking  areas, which are practically non-existent.

English No Smoking signNonetheless, my “smoke friendly” friends would meet up for their cigarette breaks. They would brave the six floors, squeezed themselves tightly inside full elevators, down to the 1st level, out the basement parking, play poker face with the guard, cross to the perimeter fence wall out of the office property, try not to touch or lean on the fence because it’s still technically considered as office property, thus equals memo,

….then finally hit the lighter to smoke the three-inch stick of heaven.

You need to finish that obstacle course in two laps all within fifteen minutes, the allowable break time period, unless you’d want to be slapped with a reprimand on your 201 file because your were “not in working area” as reported by the supervisor. Oh come on! give the guy a break!

Cigarette smoking among my friends became a ritual of sorts where they need to meet up for the 15 minute break, rant and rave, then back to their workstations, but miraculously, more relaxed, more positive and a bit more responsive. They have this distinct stupid looking smug smileys on their faces.

Image of the insula

Image of the insula (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wanted to know what brought about these smug smiley faces, if not the nasty rumors. Apparently, the positive outlook can be attributed to the nicotine’s ability to trigger the adrenal glands which in turn secretes the epinephrine (adrenalin). The rush increases blood pressure, heart rate and respiration and triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, the chemical responsible for feelings of pleasure and sense of euphoria following nicotine exposure just like any other psychoactive drugs.The high and euphoria is what makes nicotine, a show with the highest come back curtain calls, besides having the excuse of meeting up with friends and spreading ugly rumors around, plus the distinct stupid looking smug smiley faces

Repeated exposures to nicotine, develops into tolerance in turn requires the person to consume larger doses to maintain the previous euphoria experienced. Imagine what repeated exposures to the same rumor would bring about to your social network? Eventually it would all be just blaahh…

We all know the negative effects of cigarette smoking and yet we’ve ingrained the habit in our daily lives. We smoke after eating,  while reading newspapers, drinking booze, driving, relaxing, the fifteen minute coffee break evolved into cigarette break and comfort rooms became a safe place for dragging smoke where no one can judge us except our shit.

You know why cigarette smoking is hard to quit? it’s because its behavior related. All change in behavior oftentimes require a conscious effort from a person. Quitting a behavior is almost the same as acquiring a new one. Most people never like changes that breaks the status quo and hurts like hell. Just like most people seldom become consistent with an exercise routine or quit smoking.

But for obvious health reasons, we need to stop smoking. How do we do it?

  • Be aware that the resolution to quit is entirely up to you and no one else. Behavioural change can only come from within. Make it a rock solid non-negotiable commitment to yourself. Write it on paper and stick it to your computer monitor, make it your home screen page or record yourself aka Kelly Clarkson “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and make it your ringtone, anything to remind you, you’re on a mission.
  • It becomes daunting because the habit had snuck up on all of your daily life. Make an active decision of weaning yourself from the habit. Avoid going thru last hurrahs justifying in smoking a pack within an hour because you promised yourself you wont smoke again and that this would be the last time. Nope you are not anorexic and this is not a yo-yo diet.
  • Make breaking your habit a habit forming effort. Decide consciously that you want the coffee and its aroma without the smoke. Bring to the toilet anything readable, concentrate on the story, play angry birds while in the can, distract yourself in the loo time to avoid craving. Make your conscious efforts translate into active decisions which impact directly on your daily routine. Do this until it becomes hardwired into your subconsciousness.
  • Get support. Make everyone around you aware that you have decided to quit smoking so that occasions of temptations could be more prevented thru group effort, and if anyone tries your resolve you go neanderthal with them. Better yet, have a quitting buddy, just ready yourself when your buddy falls off the wagon, give him club whacks in the head and tell him you are not about to follow him to that insanely happy road to perdition. Get away from him or you’ll lose it, else the epic face palm is what you deserve.
  • Like all other information that we need to sprinkle with the wisdom dust, arm yourself with awareness from other people. Go thru the net and get inspired with their stories of how they did it. Don’t be on the other side of the fence thinking, “oh, I wish I were as strong as them…” You are stronger like them, heck after all of this, you might even look better than most of them.
  • Nicotine replacements or those tobacco tasting chewing gums may help stave off the cravings but does not actually enable you to quit smoking. It only allows you to have another bridge to the drug part of the nicotine habit and may only tempt you to go back to smoking once the replacement is not available. Remember its the habit you are also trying to change.
  • If  you’ve experienced a setback, don’t give up too easily. Be conscious of what happened that led you to grab that stick. Just resolve again the next moment that you are confronted with chance of smoking again and pull out from your commitment paper why you did resolve to stop smoking. Be aware of the reasons when confronted with situations of smoking urges. Decide that you quit and in each time that you succeed, the choice will be easier the next time, until it wont be such an effort anymore and they’ll look at you like a boss!
  • Of course there would be withdrawal symptoms. Vomitting head aches, chest pains are all part of it, check with your doctor. No best support and professional advice can come from a better resource. He may even offer other techniques and refer you to better diets in support for your withdrawal. Remember all nicotine related toxins are flushed out of your body within the 42 hours after your last cigarette.

When I was young, some of my older folks regarded teenagers who were on the habit as already on their way to the road of perdition. There is nothing good in the habit of cigarette smoking they said, you would end up as a drug user they said. You would pick up too many diseases caused by the rolled up leaves they said. You would be so possessed by the need to smoke that your would sell your soul just for the drag they said. They didn’t know we would be voting into office one day a train chugging cigarette smoker. Now, what do they say?

We need to stop reading the arrow signs to perdition. Forget the perdition, that’s the last stop along the way of painful mutating cancer cells, blob generating emphysema and literally weakling sick hearts. In fact most of the cancers that you know how to spell are tobacco related.

You can do it. We all can do this, and yes, I was a smoker once, and I’m glad I quit, if there’s anything worth it, I know I smell better. It’s not like you were lady Gaga’s Pucker Face…  get it? no? … just don’t pucker your lips when you blow, it adds to the wrinkles 😉

what do you think? :)

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