Chapter 8
  1. Freedom from Substance Abuse

193. Seven Answers to Smokers’ Excuses

Despite reams of evidence that says smoking is harmful, many smokers continue to smoke. Below are seven common rationales smokers use to justify why they smoke--with rebuttals that explain why they’re incorrect.

I’ll gain weight if I quit.

People don’t gain weight because they quit smoking; they gain weight because they eat more. Ex-smokers gain an average of 5 to 10 pounds. But you can lose it–or keep from gaining­–if you get more exercise and stay away from fatty foods and nervous snacking. (See chapter 5, Weight Loss: Tipping the Scales in Your Favor.)

I need cigarettes to relax.

Nicotine is actually a stimulant; it prompts the nervous system and the adrenal glands to trigger the release of adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone. Adrenaline leaves you feeling wired, not relaxed.

I know lots of people who smoke - they’re still healthy.

We all know people like this, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. The odds are stacked against you.

Cigarettes won’t hurt me - I’m in good shape.

Even if you don’t die from smoking, you’ll almost certainly experience some degree of disability--like difficulty breathing, a hacking cough, high blood pressure, or heart disease--and eventually be forced to quit. Why not quit now, before the damage is done?

I’ve tried to quit - dozens of times.

It’s no use. If you’ve tried to quit smoking 17 times--and failed 17 times--each attempt increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed on a subsequent attempt. Most ex-smokers made many attempts before they finally succeeded.

Quitting is too difficult.

If you once quit for a short time but were in total agony each and every day, remember that no one ever died from quitting. You’ll get through it.

I can’t imagine life without cigarettes.

You weren’t born smoking; you acquired the habit. You survived before you smoked, and you’ll survive after you quit.

SOURCE:  Adapted from “Tobacco Tattler,” by Don R. Powell, Ph.D., Your Patient and Cancer (May 1984).