Excuses of a bad smoker: do you hide behind them too?

Have you ever heard yourself, cigarette in hand, say something out loud along the lines of ‘you have to die of something’ or ‘I can give up whenever I want’?

Excuses. Smoking kills, and this is not just something written on the cigarette packet: the statistics speak for themselves*; the problem is that giving up demands motivation and willpower.

The excuses that doctors hear in their consulting rooms only confirm the dependency tobacco creates. Arguing that smoking is responsible for thousands of premature and avoidable deaths will serve no useful purpose if a person does not accept it, or until that person suffers the consequences of their loss of health.

But let’s continue with the excuses that smokers use to deceive themselves to avoid 1giving up smoking.

These are some of the more common ones:

‘You have to die of something’


You can say this now because perhaps your health has not yet suffered the consequences of smoking, and this is precisely one of the traps set by this habit, because the damage caused only becomes apparent many years after taking up the habit. The problem is that by then the damage can be irreparable.

‘I have been smoking for 20 years and I am perfectly fine’

We repeat: the damage caused to your lungs by smoking can appear 20 years after your first cigarette. This is why it is difficult to persuade an adolescent to stop smoking while he or she is still young and healthy: no negative signs have appeared yet.

‘I don’t smoke conventional cigarettes’


All forms of tobacco are a health risk. Light cigarettes have less nicotine and tar, but then people smoke more to achieve the same concentrations of nicotine in the blood. The tobacco in roll-ups and fine-cut tobacco is no healthier, because more paper is burnt. This produces more carbon monoxide and higher levels of cotinine (the direct metabolite of nicotine).

‘I’ll get fat if I stop smoking’


At the beginning you might 2put on a little weight, but don’t you think changing a toxic habit for a healthy one balances it out? It has been demonstrated that people who gave up smoking and set themselves some targets for physical activity together with establishing a diet rich in fruit and vegetables hardly gained any weight in comparison with those who stopped smoking without establishing these healthy habits.

‘I can give up whenever I want, it is just a question of willpower’

Are you sure? Behind every ‘I don’t want to stop smoking’ there often lies a ‘I can’t give up smoking’. No matter how much willpower you apply, sometimes it just is not enough. Smoking creates different kinds of dependency: not just physical, but psychological and ritualistic too. Don’t forget that this is an addiction and should be treated as such.

‘I’ve already tried and failed’


Nobody is perfect. What is more, all kinds of addiction have relapses as part of their process.

It is important to recognise that a third of those who succeed suffer a relapse in the first three months and total abstinence is usually achieved after a relapse.

Having seen the excuses, it is not really necessary to say that giving up smoking is not easy, but neither is it impossible.

If you have decided to give up this bad habit once and for all, we can only congratulate you, because it implies great determination and effort. There are many ways to say goodbye to tobacco, but studies show that cognitive and behavioural therapies work best and are better at preventing relapses. Our advice is to ask your usual health clinic for information and then get to work on it.

Are you ready to become an ex-smoker?

 

*Some statistics to consider:

4,000,000 people die every year from smoking-related causes (1 every 10 seconds)

30% of cancers, 20% of cardiovascular diseases and 80% of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are caused by tobacco consumption.

A smoker loses on average 16 years of life.

Smoking while pregnant causes low weight levels in the new-born baby and sudden infant death syndrome.

Smoking just one cigarette increases blood pressure and raises the heart beat from 10 to 15 beats per minute.

Sources and further information:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC). Information on tobacco (in Spanish).