Most, if not all long-term smokers, have a love/hate relationship with cigarettes. From the moment we awake in the morning until we lay our heads down on the pillow at night, cigarettes punctuate each and every activity of our daily lives.
When we decide to quit, untangling the associations we’ve built up over a lifetime of smoking takes conscious effort; something that smoking cessation forum member Zoe illustrates beautifully below.
In her list of pros and cons, Zoe stands back and takes a critical look at her old smoking habit. A powerful exercise in stepping out from behind the smoke screen that nicotine addiction forces us to live behind, a pros and cons list allows us to uncover the truth about our relationship with smoking. From there, the work of healing can begin … as it did for Zoe.
The Pros and Cons of Cigarette Smoking
I made a list of what I liked about smoking vs. what I hated about smoking … and though I really missed it at first, looking at this list made me see that I didn’t like smoking as much as I thought I did.
What I Liked about Smoking:
- The bonding I experienced with other smokers.
- The feeling of creating a ritual.
- Watching the cigarette burn and watching the smoke swirl.
- Momentary gratification.
What I Hated about Smoking:
- The after-smell on my clothes, furniture, car, house, everything. Yuck.
- Not being able to breathe properly.
- The constant nagging cough. All day, all night.
- Lots of phlegm, lots of throat-clearing and losing my voice mid-sentence.
- Painful heartburn every night and every time I drank coffee.
- Feeling winded after extremely mild activity.
- Severe throbbing headaches, occasional migraines.
- Lingering colds and bronchitis.
- Racing heartbeat, more sweating.
- Increased rate of hypertension.
- Dizziness after smoking too fast or [having] too many cigarettes.
- Nausea from smoking too much.
- The constant coppery, ashy taste in my mouth.
- Yellow skin, teeth and fingernails.
- Scaly, unhealthy-feeling skin.
- Anxiety from the fear about what I was doing to myself and the consequences.
- No relaxation, always feeling in need of something. A constant feeling of not being satisfied.
- Mini-withdrawals throughout the day.
- Feelings of shame while spending time with nonsmokers.
- Not accomplishing tasks because of wasted time smoking.
- The late-evening/middle-of-the-night trip to the gas station.
- Going out in bad weather to smoke alone.
- Feelings of inadequacy and substance dependence.
- Driving my cat out of the room every time I lit up.
- Dry mouth and constant feelings of thirst.
- Coughing so hard that I made myself sick.
- Trembling hands and fingertips.
- Fear. Of being unable to quit, of dying an untimely, painful death.
- The stinging feeling in my lungs when I tried to take a deeper or slower breath.
- Getting smoke in my eyes.
- Burning my lips on the filter.
- Trying to light short butts and feeling my eyebrows singe. Ouch!
- Re-lighting a previously torched cigarette, so I don’t “waste” any tobacco.
- Overflowing ashtrays, ashes and dust everywhere.
- Burn holes in my car upholstery and on my clothes.
- “Will I fall asleep smoking?”
- “Will I catch something on fire?”
- Dry, chapped lips.
- The cost. All that money wasted on ruining my health and well-being.
- My nails and hair grew very slowly.
- Smoking fueled my compulsiveness relating to other bad habits, such as nail-biting and binge-eating.
- Having to reapply my lipstick after smoking.
- The filthy taste of cheap tobacco.
- Having to crack the car window in the pouring rain. Wet leg, wet arm, water in my eyes.
- Tar build-up on windows and furniture.
- The way my hair and skin smelled.
- Limited motivation and energy.
- Spilled tobacco in my purse, on my dresser, on my computer desk.
- Lighting the filter end by mistake…
- Dropping a cigarette while driving.
- Trying to tap my ashes out the car window … while the window is rolled up.
- Dropping hot ashes or losing the tip of a cigarette.
- Oops! Tapped ashes in my drink.
- Feeling “exiled” in the smoking section/smoking room.
- Dulled sense of taste and smell.
Maybe you should sit down and make a list like this for yourself. It might give you the nudge towards where you know you want to be.
First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. Health Service Food and Human Resources: European Cigarette Online