Are you Sleeping with the Enemy

Most smokers, when asked what their biggest challenge or problem they face when quitting smoking will offer a range of answers. Some will say it’s the cravings… others will say it’s the habit, they are so used to smoking at certain times, in certain places with certain people. I’ve even had people say it’s their lack of will-power or inner strength. Some even think they are so addicted they can never quit, whilst others believe they cannot cope with life without smoking as it helps reduce anxiety and worry.

This wide range of different challenges smokers face is the reason why there are so many different approaches to quitting smoking, but the reality is that it all really boils down to one problem, and that is ‘thought’. It is about what you think about smoking and what you think it does for you that is the problem.

We all live in a world where our senses are bombarded all the time with external data and information. To such an extent that we have become a ‘thought-generated’ society. Everything we do, everything we become all stems from a thought. Everything we have, all the modern technology, was at sometime just a thought – an idea, in someone’s mind. So much so, that what we think will happen often does. In other words we create our own destiny.

If you think you have no will power – guess what – you don’t. If you think you are addicted – guess what – you are, and if you think your body cannot cope with physical cravings – guess what – it won’t.

The issue therefore is not cigarettes or tobacco products; it is about what you think about them. We are all programmed (even brainwashed) to think a certain way, for example; most smokers think that smoking relieves stress. Media advertising, subtle and not so subtle messages from soap operas, popular trends, and our education and social systems all contribute to us adopting specific attitudes and ways of thinking about everything in life, so it is not your fault that you have come to think about cigarettes as giving you pleasure – a companion and friend, always reliable always there, offering stability in an insecure world. This subtle programming means that most of us are unaware (asleep) to what is happening and just keep following the trends, and those who want to make changes ‘sleepwalk’ towards the solutions offered by the same media style programming…

The only solution to dealing with this problem is to shatter this illusion and see it for what it is. To wake up to reality and see that whatever you think the benefits of smoking are, the truth is that it is that you have been deceived by your thoughts. The battle is in your mind and your thinking and not in the cigarette. Take therefore every thought captive and recognise its source. Ask yourself “Where did it spring from?” Where did you learn that smoking gives you pleasure?

In recognising the reality that it is ‘not your thought’ but one installed in you from external sources, gives you clarity and with a clear mind you can seek the truth from the only true source of wisdom which comes from inside of you and not from the external world with its gamut of solutions. True wisdom comes from within. The answer you need to help you quit can therefore only be found within yourself…


Until the next time,

Success and Happiness

Norman, your last two sentences also describe the academic 'industry' just as well :-) As for tobacco, in the university environment, aged emeritus profs and life fellows who had spent half a century in the same study vehemently opposed smoking bans in their collegiate buildings and even mustered majorities to vote against the bans. As for the fact that some of them had a couple of tonnes of paper in their study, much of which was as dry as tinder that had insurers near weeping, the bans were overruled by the argument that these eminences gris could not think and write without tobacco. Many of them had, needless to say, not published a thing for 30 or so years. In the end they had to be allowed to become an extinct line of being and whoever took over those studies had strict no smoking conditions imposed. A remarkably large number of those aged dons actually did die of cancers or respiratory conditions. Reading obits between the lines one wondered how they lived as long as they did, given many of them had a long, lingering demise. It is too early to say if the health of the newer generation will be different, but many of them are now non-smokers anyway. The crusty old academic with the foul smelling pipe seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Cigarettes were one of the few products I never handled in my career, but I handled a few that were close to suspect whilst remaining legal. Only once did It really stand on my high horse and simply refuse to handle (and I was running the inhouse agency of a major sporting goods importer into Australia at the time). The product appeared for consideration into our weapons, euphemistically called 'sporting arms catalogue'.

This was the forerunner to the Uzzi automatic so beloved by Hollywood now. For the life of me I couldn't see how this could be described as a 'sporting arm' as it sprayed about 30 rounds per second, or some such figure. No skill involved just hold the trigger. The so-called selling points were 'only 4 moving parts' and I swear this is true, 'produced in plastic so undetectable by security machines'.

Considering this was back in the mid-70's, and the source was Asian, it was truly a vision of things to come.

Re. your buddy. These actions were not unknown in the business. It was an ego-driven industry, with lots of what I suppose are now called 'hissy-fits'. Arguments were every day, and it was always tense and edgy.

Yes, but the baccy mob pays them.

A friend was creative director for Player's Special. He designed the packet and the F1 cars. When they had had enough of him, namely because Colin Chapman moved Lotus on and the fags drastically lost sales, he got his copywriter and art director to design something along the lines of 'Don't forget, JPS killed more smokers than Lotus cars!'. He was already on notice, so they paid him off and sent him home that day. Unfortunately, not before a printer had knocked out several thousand A4 size handbills that a bunch of London students distributed.

The advertising business has been criticised for promoting cigarettes, yet they remain a legal product.

Does anyone remember these brands?

Hope they don't come out too big, but I don't know how to reduce them.

Being an anthropologist and knowing smoking has been around for a very long time, I got looking. Indeed it has, and evidence shows at least 7000 years of ritual and medicinal (hmmmm!) smoking. All manner of herbs have been used and actually it would appear that the leaves of cannabis sativa were in more widespread use than anything else at one stage. Tobacco, nicotiana as we should call it really since that is its genus, was known and used from parts of Mexico up to a bit below Canada, more on the east than west of what is now the USA, and some Caribbean islands. However there were lots of other herbs as well and it would appear that tobacco was most usually ritually and occasionally rather than habitually. John Rolfe, best known for marrying Pocahontas, was the first known commercial grower and based in Virginia, hence the preferred variety since.

In general it appears that there are few societies who did not have smoking in some form or other and the range of herbs smoked was and still is vast. Tobacco was pushed into predominance because it was a highly profitable cash crop that with fairly simple treatment burned better than other plants, was quickly known to be habit forming and thus a money spinner and exported everywhere possible within a couple of hundred years. Jean Nicot, who gave the plant its name, imported and introduced the plant to France from where it spread to other countries including England. Health has been an issue for a long time since Murad IV, sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 40 was among the first to attempt a smoking ban because it was a threat to public morality and health. In 1929, Dr Fritz Lickint in Dresden published a paper containing formal statistical evidence of a lung cancer tobacco link. During the Third Reich, scientists not only verified Lickint's findings but using laboratory animals also found that many of the other herbs smoked that had declined in popularity in general were equally as carcinogenic.

Interesting what a post can do. That was just a bit of my lunch break and has shown me several things I had no idea about before. I might also, probably, have saved time by looking at Wikipedia but it is certainly far more interesting than a quick puff!

Heck no Carol. Have you ever worked on the grape harvest? I had had friends smoking since 12 or so, it had simply not attracted me. My father smoked a few, my mother had one or two a day. I actually hated the fug is the jazz and blues clubs my crowd went to, even as a smoked tended to dislike it because it makes my eyes water more than anything else. I can remember quite clearly that it was sociable, indeed as it still is to a greater extent here in France, to smoke and also the smell of the dark tobacco was so much nicer than the acrid Virginia tobacco I later tried but could never abide. I also never went into the self-justifications the people who 'cannot give up' tend to use, including my OH now. I did it, it was something I did and most people hated the smell of Gauloise although they had their nasty B&Hs, etc. It was hardly social since nobody offered theirs or took mine as a rule. It is why I say that there is more to it and the etiology of smoking needs to be completely examined.

However, bottom line is, and I knew long before I gave up, that inhaling carcinogenic particles in tobacco smoke is slow suicide. German research on the effects of mustard gas in the wake of WW1 indeed led to the Third Reich scientists with their smoking laboratory dogs who developed all manner of cancerous tumours. The US scientists who suppressed that research for the benefit of the high income generating tobacco companies are a smear on history and have many lost lives on their account. Apparently, the vast majority of them were ironically non-smokers themselves but all are long gone it is simply that the tobacco giants will not genuinely contribute to ending the smoking habit despite many other uses of the tobacco plant that are possible.

“I’ll give up the habit, I will even yet, when I’ve had just one more cigarette...”

I believe that a the addiction to smoking and resistance to giving up is not because it’s painful, makes you shake uncontrollably or have horrific hallucinations, it’s simply what I like to call “the little demon” - the voice in the head that says, “I’ll just have one after this meal.” or, “What a rough day; I need a fag.” Or as above ⇧⇧⇧. You have to make yourself aware that it’s your little demon: Nick O’Tine that’s talking.

This is not as daft as it first seems; that’s what the drug does.

Great post Norman, the filtering of information received from our physical senses goes on all the time, and gets 'noticed' by us when our thoughts are focussed on a particular thing. and in the same way we can filter out stuff that we choose 'not to think about'. However, the bombardment of messages and information penetrates our subconscious and attaches itself to specific beliefs... which is why someone might say 'they can't stop smoking' which of course doesn't make any logical sense... we all have the capability of not lighting up a cigarette and smoking it... no-one is physcially holding them down and making them smoke. What they really mean is that they dont think they can stop because of their own self-limiting beliefs and deep down it's not what they really want to do.

Carol, disagree. My first cigarette was in France. I was on a school trip to St Emilion to take part in the vindange and improve our French by staying with French families. My host puffed his Gauloises almost nonstop. When he stopped work he offered everybody a Ricard and handed his cigarette packet round. Unlike my school friends, I had until then (a couple of weeks short of 17) never tried a smoke. I took one, I puffed gently at it and loved the taste. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the other people smoking and inhaled. I did not cough or choke, I was under the illusion that still pervaded then in 1965 that smoking was not at all bad and felt I had crossed that barrier. One friend who I still know who was on the trip too did not and has never smoked. It was choice and not peer pressure. That evening I smoked several more. The next day I bought some. I smoked until 2002. But then again, I was always able to not smoke for any length of time and never understood cravings that other people suffered. Perhaps that is part of the difference. I have known other people who can tell a fairly similar story. It is not always dustbin flavour, not taking it down, and being hooked despite the addictive qualities of nicotine and habitual behaviour being part of the equation. Like all things, it needs many approaches, theories and versions of its etiology to make a full picture.

Spot on Carol - Absolutely we learn to 'think' the thoughts we have from the messages we receive from the world. That first cigarette experience tells us that smoking is not pleasurable nor good for us as our body tells us through the spluttering and nausea, however, because of the message we learned from peers (and our need to have approval and be part of things), and the messages that smoking is cool (contempory films still show images of touch guys smoking, or people lighting up when stressed etc) we have gotten into the habit of taking notice of those external influences instead of listening to what our own experience is telling us...

I think like most, people actually 'filter' (sorry) out the messages we don't want to hear, and the more pronounced the challenge/imprecations etc., the more we switch off. It has been proven we each receive upwards of 15,000 advertising messages in various forms EVERY DAY if we live in cities, and about half that if we live in the country. Juts doing the math. on number of seconds in a day, it becomes blindingly obvious we cannot possibly note each and every one, so we choose those that interest us and discard the rest.

It has also been proven to my satisfaction at least (and after 50 years + of active research in my job) that 'shock' advertising falls into this category of ignoring it - as we simply don't want to hear or see the message.

On a slightly different level this applies to the horrors of vivisection, halal slaughter etc., I detest them both and the practitioners and end-users, but I don't want or need to see the animals suffering to be convinced it is wrong.

As with another poster here, I was a heavy smoker from the age of 14-39. I started as a nervous youngster and lighting up a cigarette a) made me thoughtful when asked a question, and b) made me look more adult. Of course this was deception of myeslef and no-one else, but it's a stage we all go through as youngsters. How many guys out there went through the 'skull' image, and seeing horror films to appear 'macho' - c'mon be honest.

At aged 39, and I was in Australia, when two things happened. One was the introduction of a 'slob' cartoon character called 'Norm' who overdrank, over-ate and of course smoked too much. My name did become a problem, and I did tend to fit the character anyway so the association was apposite.

More importantly though was my two x 120mm packs suddenly went to over $Aus2,00 a day! Before they had hovered under that figure and as we all know the psychological barrier with so-called 'round figures' and fractionally under ' $2.00 v. $1.99' is massive in our minds. Why do you think Supermarkets use this so much? Anyway that meant suddenly (it appeared to me) I was spending $4,00 a day, every day, literally watching it go up in smoke. By the time I extrapolated the yearly cost of that I was staggered.

Believe it or not, I instantly gave up smoking, much to the disbelief of my wife. I have never smoked since and now 73, never had a single crave for a fag.

Of some slight interest, is that one of my books is on the Graphics of Tobacco, which one might have though could stimulate a latent desire? Well it didn't, and the graphics of tobacco advertising is a fascinating subject and pack design could be and often was remarkable. I have often posed the question 'Is it Possible for Good Art to be used in Bad Causes?' and of course the answer is yes. This one probably fits into the category, but it doesn't stop the subject being fascinating.

Thanks folks for all the comments. I'm really enjoying reading them so keep them coming...Seeing as this has created a lot of interest here... I feel another blog post is coming on... :-)

To answer your questions Celeste, it's a given fact that people smoke because they like it and perceive it has benefits for them - we seek pleasure not pain so it is unnecessary to ask if they like it, but with smoking there is always a dichotomy...(a part wants to, a part doesn't because of the mixed messages they have learnt) My message is simple... it is to see that the problem and solution are not in external things outside of themselves, but are from within... I have worked with smokers and other addictions for around 15 years as a psychotherapist and still help people quit. I am definitely not on an NLP course nor am setting up one to train others, although I am an NLP practitioner and clinical hypnotherapist but have developed my own approach to help people quit based on my own work with people who smoke over the years, having also written a couple of books and recorded cds/mp3's on the subject.

I had a repair garage in Exeter. I came to open up one morning to find a guy leaning heavily against the door, wheezing painfully.

I opened up, helped him inside, got him a seat and put the heating on. It took him a few minutes to get enough breath to be able to speak then he told me that he’d just made it down the hill from Heavitree hospital; a couple of hundred yards away. He’d been in there for yonks having had surgery for lung cancer. He said he only had half of one lung left.

His car had got a flat battery whilst sitting in the car park waiting for its master to return; he needed me to go and get it started so he could get home. I said I’d do it straight away for him. He said, “That’s such a relief to know.” And he lit up a fag. Then, when he saw the look on my face, he said, “Don’t chastise me; I have so few pleasures left in life.”...

We are always bombarded with meaningless health messages such as "Smoking causes heart disease!" I always thought I would die of cancer & decided that my enjoyment of cigarettes outweighed my wish to "live long & prosper" so I carried on smoking. Then at the tender age of 42 I had a heart attack. I was helping a friend repair a car in his workshop miles from anywhere when during a smoke break I became faint. It had happened before a couple of times, most recently at 3 am in the morning in a lay by in Luxembourg as I had a last smoke before bedding down in my truck. Disposing of the cigarette, it only took a few minutes to pass. This time the faintness did not pass & it became clear to my friend that I was in trouble. I remember parts of the journey to the hospital 15 minutes away, my friend telling me not to die (I owed him a fiver).

At the hospital I remember being given a new expensive drug along with morphine, then nothing. When I awoke I was told that I was being moved to St Thomas' Hospital in London as the local hospital had done all they could. I later heard my friend's side of my little drama. During my treatment he was told to inform my family as my chances of survival were not good, this made worse when I had a second heart attack during the evening. He was told that there was a 95% chance that I was not going to last the night & I only had that because of his quick response - an ambulance would not have arrived in time.

When you inhale smoke the nicotine makes your arteries narrow slightly restricting blood flow. "Heart disease" had led to the production of a few blood clots which circulate around the body. On inhaling, the nicotine made some arteries too small for the clot which then blocked up the flow. Previously by dint of throwing the cig away the nicotine would wear off & allow the flow to restart. This time the blockage was permanent, starving half of my heart muscle of oxygenated blood. Even the new drug did not work so the muscle ceased to function, too late for a heart bypass. So now half of my heart has to do ALL the work! My heart rate, blood pressure & blood thickness are all controlled by drugs but I am alive & well although I have to be careful about the amount of work I expect my body to do (never was an athelete!).

While I was in intensive care a nurse told me that if I did not smoke for a week or so my body would no longer crave a smoke & as I spent 8 days hooked up to monitors I felt that I had passed the week & I have not smoked since! I like to catch a whiff of someone elses smoke, though.

One thing I found incredulous. When I was moved to the cardiac ward most other patients were having heart bypass operations, one man for the third time. I was astonished at how many, the moment they could walk again, headed outside to light up a cigarette! Why not just spit in the face of the surgical team who have just spent hours saving your worthless little life?

I wish I had learned more about the effect smoking actually has on your body rather than the vague health warnings we used to get & I also wish I had not wasted the money on the things!

I finally gave up smoking by likening the mind to being the computer that controls the machine (body) and the intellect to being the programmer, so I simply said to the ‘mind’ one day, “I want to give up smoking; make it so!” and then I let it get on with the job. Bit by bit - but quite rapidly - I no longer wanted to smoke.

That works for so much more of what we (think) we are - and what we want to be.

Jackie’s quite right: you are what you think you are - and you can be more of what you think yourself to be. It needn’t be hard work - just order the ‘computer’ to get on with the job.

And healthy is a good start; what is amazing is how much we talk ourselves into being not-so-healthy. Some folk do that because they just want to get sympathy: to be loved. Perhaps what we should remember is that you only get what you put out, otherwise, most folk really don’t care that much; they just say, “Oh, poor you! Get well soon.”

Now an ex smoker after nearly 18 years - Benson & Hedges in the gold pack I think were £2.67 a packet.

The first thing I did on waking was hunt for a cig, I worked in a no smoking environment but still found the time to get through 40 a day, how I managed that I don't know. I decided enough was enough, I was 29 and realised then that these were going to kill me. I stopped overnight, smoked the last one in the packet, and that was it, to this day not a "cigarette" has been near my lips.

However, I tried to be clever, still having a craving, after food, with beer, you get the drift, I decided to try the small B&H Cigars, nievely thinking these would be better, just one a day would be fine. Looking back now, how the hell I thought that heaven only knows. Within a few months I was approaching 20 a day, yes 20 cigars a day!!!! My voice sounded like sandpaper if that makes sense, I had to kickstart the lungs every morning but hey could I really be hooked on these damn things, as it happened yes I was. As you can imagine I smelled wonderful, well to me it was hardly noticable, to the outside world I stunk.

On my 30th birthday my father in law got both him and I a large Hamlet, a couple of drags and I felt ill, infact the Mother in Law commented that I looked like death, not seen death to often so not sure how to compare that one - probably didnt look too good to say the least, the alcohol must of course have been off, couldnt possibly have been the cigar could it... quickly extinguishing the cigar I though I would save for later. After the meal fired the thing up again, within two or three drags the same happened, back to the death thing again! From that day on, just the meer wiff of one turns my stomach.

I work along side smokers now, to be honest (and please dont take this personally - remember I am an ex smoker) you guys stink! No offence but I think for an ex-smoker it possibly smells worse, I don't know. Just the thought of a cigar/cigarette , yuck, I can still taste/smell them... nasty!

I was lucky, they made me ill, would be great if that worked with others as well.

Just though I would share this with everyone.

You are absolutely right and what a wonderfully uplifting way of describing how to train your brain. Tobacco is physically one of the most addictive substances known to exist. A vile and dangerous drug which kills half of it's users.

The physical craving is so strong that people invent all sorts of psychological 'traps' for themselves in order to justify giving in to the cravings. The trick is to trick the brain out of these tricks. A tricky task :)

Nice post. Brings back memories, even now after 3 years, when after a lunch or dinner someone lights up a cig I remember... but then the smell turns off the desire for any cig.

Strangely i have never had the urge to smoke ok perhaps not quite the truth i tried the odd one or two even bought a packet of 5 Woodbines yes 5, i remember it well walking to youth club age 15 thinking how grown up i felt then thinking what the hell am i doing with this threw the cigarette and the packet away never smoked since, my dad never smoked ,then started during the war blaming it on sitting about waiting when i got married and left home i always bought dad cigars for Christmas until one year mum told me not to buy them as dad had given up oh when did he do that i asked a few years ago, he took to Foxes Glacier Mints instead it appears he did the same as i threw the packet in the bin never smoked again firemen go to a great deal of trouble to drag people out of smoke filled buildings why would i or anyone else willingly sit in a smoke filled room which is what lots of smokers do