When Smoking Was a Choice Addiction

When Smoking Was a Choice Addiction

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 Dec 2000, 21:08 #1

Joel's Reinforcement Library

When Smoking Was a
"Choice Addiction"

It was cheap, well under 50 cents a pack. It was readily available. You could smoke it any where, any time you wanted. It was respectable. Your friends did it, your relatives did it, your co-workers did it, your boss did it, your doctor even did it. There was no social stigma attached, to the contrary, you were viewed as sophisticated, smart, tough, enlightened, or even healthy and robust as you deeply sucked in drag after drag. You never felt threatened by it-as far as you knew, it was safe. You never felt withdrawal, you seldom felt nicotine poisoning. When you could smoke any time you want, you were able to balance nicotine at optimal levels never facing extremes. Without facing extremes, you never recognized the consequences associated with using an addictive substance. You smoked because you liked it. For a while you knew you could take it or leave it.

But in 1964 things started to change. It was then the first Surgeon General's report was released. For the first time, the public was made aware about the early known dangers of smoking. The link to lung cancer was firmly established and the risks of heart disease were becoming apparent. Those who actually read the report and understood the implications of the early studies were the first to begin to stop smoking. Among the first groups of people to reduce smoking among their ranks were physicians and dentists. As more time passed and hundreds and then thousands of studies were reported, the link between smoking and premature death was becoming firmly established. Greater numbers of nonmedical professionals were joining the ranks of ex-smokers. All of a sudden, the act of smoking was not viewed as an intelligent behavior. Smokers were not shunned, but they were no longer admired for their smoking behaviors.

Many American were attempting to quit but could not. For the first time, they were beginning to realize they were no longer smoking by choice. They were now hooked. They knew for medical reasons they should quit, but without understanding how to treat addiction they did not know how to stop. While they may not have been happy about this realization, they still felt comfortable smoking (unless they had developed crippling effects). After all, they could still smoke at the regular intervals necessary to avoid the consequences of nicotine withdrawal syndrome. They were now drug addicts.

But nicotine addiction still had major advantages over any other addiction. Sure, it literally killed more people than all other addictions combined, including alcohol and heroin. But it was still legal, accessible, and relatively socially acceptable. These are important attributes for a drug of addiction. For, even though the long-term effects are lethal, the immediate short term effects are relatively comfortable, if not down right pleasurable. What other drug could you self administer 40 plus times a day getting the little pharmacological fixes with each and every hit that a smoker gets from every puff? Smokers still didn't face the chronic withdrawal syndromes other addicts faced from being unable to deliver ever larger amounts of a substance required by the increasing tolerance associated with addiction.

The biggest slam to effect the smoker was the danger associated with second hand smoke. Nonsmokers, who make up the majority of the population, were becoming intolerant. Work places, homes of friends and families, public meeting places and even the smoker's own home were becoming smoke free. No longer could the smoker deliver the ever increasing needed fixes necessary to avert nicotine withdrawal. Now the smoker is either oversmoking or undersmoking all day long. He oversmokes so he can get as much nicotine as can possibly be tolerated to get him through multiple hours before he can get to his next fix. He undersmokes for numerous hours when he is restrained by no-smoking rules and regulations. Chronic withdrawal or chronic poisoning is the norm experienced by today's smokers.

So, today, the smoker does not only have to worry about the slow crippling effects of smoking or the long-term lethal effects. He or she must be concerned about the day to day drudgery experienced by maintaining an addiction which is socially unacceptable and, hence, not allowed for many hours every day. Smokers today are suffering from oversmoking and undersmoking. They are scorned by many. They should be pitied by all and envied by none. The memories from the hey day of smoking are a fantasy in today's reality. The reality of smoking is a tortured life and a slow death. Don't get trapped in life of addiction - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!


freeflight silver
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:05

30 Dec 2000, 02:25 #2

This article reminded me of my Dad. He was always a moderate to heavy smoker, and in his last years , had a terrible cough. He suffered several strokes before passing , and when I saw him in the hospital, he was begging me to buy him a carton of "death". I couldn't do it.I wasn't smoking then. My brother did, not because he wanted him to die, but because he saw the situation as hopeless. I never knew where he smoked them. a month later, Dad had his final stroke, alone, in a nursing home, Strange how after reading this, memories of several variety programs from the 50's came flooding back into my mind. Beautiful models in striking poses, exhibiting their smoking prowess. We admired them then. I sat on my Dad's lap, laughing at the comic's antidotes, inhaling his second hand smoke, and I knew that I would be able to attain a great deal of sophistication by emulating their exaggerated and arrogant body language. I was fooling myself from the cradle. the very horror We watched destroy my Dad, fooled me with a wink and a smile. I have no one to blame but me.

marty (gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

12 Apr 2001, 21:03 #3

Thanks for the excuse, Joel. I started smoking in 1955 when, as you rightly say, there was no real awareness of the health risks. The doctors used to discourage young people from smoking because "smoking stunts your growth". Once you were fully grown, there was no problem Image

So I am forgiven for starting to smoke Image . But 10 years later, 20 years later, 30 years later where was my excuse for not stopping ? Nope, it took me 45 years to find the courage and the sense to do that, and for that there is no excuse.

And for young people starting to smoke now ? I cry inside when I see kids of 14 upwards starting to kill themselves, but I guess they have no excuse, they have only themselves to blame, or do they?. Maybe the education they are getting is poor, maybe it's being wrongly presented to them, and maybe ... just maybe ... those of us who have received the best education in the best school in the world - here at FREEDOM - can start to make a difference.

Joanne Gold
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

14 Jun 2001, 11:08 #4

Nice article Joel. Gosh...it wasn't fun feeling like a leper. The last thirteen years of my smoking regiment took place in our garage. From day one of our marriage my husband graciously requested that I smoke outside. Geesh...was it fun out there. First thing in the morning..sitting alone with my car, my coffee and my cigarette...(eighteen more times in-between)....then lastly before bed...alone with my car and my last few smokes. It wasn't even like I could be comfortable and relax. I felt like a prisoner.....trapped within and afraid.....what a horrible addiction we have.

I am so glad to be free. I don't miss that garage at all. : )) My car does just fine in there without me.

Thanks for the insight....


freefromit GOLD
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

08 Nov 2002, 06:48 #5

...Now the smoker is either undersmoking or oversmoking all day long...
Exactly, Joel! I had read this post just a few days ago which I know prompted my reflections on this crazy viscious cycle of addiction. Thank you for bringing it up again It is really great when the education I get from your extensive library so directly applies to my own very real experiences here on this Journey. I really appreciate your work Joel~~~Marie

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

02 Jan 2004, 22:22 #6

Contrary to the opening statement in this string, cigarettes were never cheap. The costs of smoking were always loss of health and the premature loss of life--it is just that the earliest smokers never knew it. Actually, for decades there were smokers who ended up having cigarettes cost them them their lives and they and their loved ones never knew it. But you know the risks now and the only way you can minimize the costs that smoking was exerting on your money and on your health is to simply stick to your commitment to never take another puff! Joel

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

01 Feb 2004, 23:16 #7

Is society discriminating against those who almost unknowingly coat their body in the stink of their addiction? One of the most alarming recovery sensations is an awakening sense of smell. Not only are you able to identify smokers who wrongly thought they'd hidden the stink but you'll often be able to smell non-smokers who spent a cigarette or two in the presence of a smoker. It's frightening to think about how my three packs-a-day must have announced my arrival.

The growing sense of being a social outcast will only continue to worsen as the world gradually accepts that this truly is an addiction. But then there is only one rule for wearing natural oils upon your skin - no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff!


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

02 Feb 2004, 01:02 #8

John--this was actually one of the factors that led up to my decision to quit. For some reason I had been able to convince myself that I didn't smell "that much" like a smoker or that people didn't notice. Then for some reason that line of irrationality fell away in the last few months. I started noticing when I went to put on my coat that the smell was very apparent even to my dulled smoker's senses. I would come into my house after being at school all day and smell the stale smoke seeping from the carpet et al. It was very disturbing.

There's a nice symbolism here between the smell and the whole practise of smoking. I wasn't just panicking because I realized that the smell was permeating me and my possessions more than I realized: I was panicking because it was becoming very plain that the whole practise of smoking was permeating more areas of my life than I realized: in fact, permeating all of them! I wanted to think that my smoking was totally contained in the few minutes between when I lit a cigarette and when I put out the butt. I wanted to think that during those minutes I was a smoker but otherwise there was no difference between me and a non-smoker. How wrong I was. Smoking was making my life "unmanageable" in the same way that drinking or other drugs would have. Realizing this was very hard and it's hard to write about it now but it just makes me happier that I used that horrible realization to change my life.
--Erica: One Month and Five Days Free.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

25 Mar 2004, 21:16 #9

Freedom's Non-Debate Policy: (Our Courtesies)

The below article is not presented to invite debate on the merits of social controls over smoking, a topic on which member opinions vary greatly. In fact, such debates tend to divide groups such as ours and actually weaken and diminish our effectiveness as a tool to help each member remain nicotine free today. It's presented to try and help open our minds to the general direction of where things may be headed. Forget risks associated with secondhand smoke and even littered cigarette butts, is thinking getting to the point where a nicotine addict feeding their addiction in any public place is an influence that society just doesn't want children to see or be around?

The below California beach article is not so different than the growing number of park, playground, and college campus smoking restriction articles being published in newpapers around the globe. Regardless of our feelings on where society's controls seems headed, such issues will never again be central as to where and when the flow of neurochemicals within our mind will be altered so long as we choose to Never Take Another Puff! John

Santa Monica to ban smoking at the beach
New York Times - Thurs. March 25, 2004
For many unrepentant smokers - a vanishing species here, but extant Image nonetheless - the Santa Monica pier and the wide beach it overlooks was one of the last public places in Southern California where lighting up was not met with scorn and the threat of a fine.
Those days are over. At a meeting Tuesday, City Council members, citing concerns about health, safety and pollution, gave initial approval to an ordinance that would ban smoking on most of the 95-year-old pier and on all of Santa Monica's four miles of beaches. It is expected to pass on a second reading April 13.
With that step, Santa Monica would become the third city in California to ban smoking on its beaches; the others are Solana Beach and San Clemente, both north of San Diego. The city's move to outlaw smoking on the wooden pier itself, except for designated areas, follows an outright ban in Seal Beach, just south of Los Angeles, after a fire four years ago, believed to have been caused by a cigarette, trapped diners at a pier restaurant.
California has banned smoking in restaurants since 1994, and in bars since 1998, but the trend toward outdoor bans, particularly in parks and near building entrances, is gaining strength.
Smoking is already restricted on boardwalks in Ocean City, N.J., and Santa Cruz and on Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf. On the recently restored Venice Pier, built from concrete, smoking is banned altogether.
Santa Monica, along with Beverly Hills and Pasadena, has already banned smoking in its parks, adding to prohibitions in public places such as the Rose Bowl, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Zoo and Dodger Stadium.
The ordinance in Santa Monica would not only restrict smoking on the pier and ban it on the beach, but would also prohibit lighting up at bus stops and within 20 feet of the doorways of government buildings.
Copyright Marion Independent Journal and N.Y. Times

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

25 Mar 2004, 21:52 #10

When I think of all the smoking I used to do at the beach it makes me sick! To think that my addiction was so overpowering as to make me believe it was ok to drop all of those butts and flick all of those ashes on the sand! What a dope I was! And to think of all the butts I smoked on or in wooden structures!

Thanks John for sharing this story with us. Makes me thankful to know that next time I go to the beach I can leave it as I found it because I DON'T SMOKE ANY MORE!!!

yqb, David Four months, two weeks, three days, 23 hours, 45 minutes and 11 seconds. 2501 cigarettes not smoked, saving $187.64. Life saved: 1 week, 1 day, 16 hours, 25 minutes.