Closet Smokers and Their Burden of Secrecy

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Despite the fact that smoking is still widely prevalent and Big Tobacco company hasn’t relinquished the will to continue marketing its products, cigarettes have actually become quite taboo in recent years. Whereas they were a status symbol in the 1950’s and 60’s (Think of a chain smoking Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or any of the big shots in Madmen), cigarettes have now been relegated to the plain of trashy and unhealthy—socially frowned upon and seen as a marker of bad taste. The problem with making cigarettes taboo is that the forbidden is at once enticing and shaming, a potent combination that often leads to lies and secrecy and thus engenders the phenomenon of the closet smoker.

Closet smokers are secret smokers. They make sure to hide their nicotine habit from specific people, whether it is family, friends, partners, or coworkers. Closet smokers have developed a smoking habit that they are ashamed of—it is something that they crave and simultaneously feel the need to hide. Some may hide their smoking for the thrill, others because it makes them feel dirty, and still others because they don’t want to disappoint the ones they love. Whatever the reason, closet smoking is not just physically harmful—it is psychologically and relationally harmful as well.

If you are a closet smoker and you want to break free of this double-bind habit, then you need to start by identifying why you are engaging in smoking mixed with secrecy. It is one thing to take on smoking as a social habit, but smoking as an anti-social habit (which is what closet smoking is) may be a way for you to deal with hidden feelings of shame or fear that you have about yourself and your relationships with others. It may also be a sign that you are trying to avoid problems you are having in your life or that you feel that you fear being rejected or punished by those who love you.

Whatever the reason you are engaging in closet smoking, it is ultimately something that only you can identify, admit, and change. One thing to remember is that closet smoking is secretive and secrets are burdens. Secrets keep us isolated from our true selves and from those we love. Smoking is a difficult habit to break and it often requires that you find support from others. If you are keeping your struggle with your smoking habit hidden, then you are less likely to be able to stop it. If you want to give up the secrets and the detrimental ways that they impact your life, open up those closet doors today and start living in the light of honesty and health.

Why Do Doctors Claim That Smoking Is Addictive?


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There are has been an increasingly large divide developing in the medical community surrounding the concept that smoking is an addiction. Some doctors and scientists; such as researchers at the University of Tel Aviv, claim that smoking is merely a habit and that tobacco is not in itself addictive. On the other side, many doctors, such as the U.S. Surgeon General, claim that smoking is an addiction to nicotine. So which side is correct? We take the position that smoking is fundamentally a social or stress-relieving habit and that smokers have control over this habit. However, it is always a good idea to understand what the other side is saying-there is often some truth in both sides of an argument. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons some doctors believe and promote smoking as an addiction:

Nicotine is addictive: The United States Surgeon General, the head medical doctor of the U.S. government, concluded that nicotine is an addictive substance in 1988. After this proclamation, many other doctors and researchers followed suit and have been able to prove that nicotine causes chemical and biological changes in the brain. That isn’t the debatable point-the debate revolves around whether or not these changes lead directly to dependency. It is possible that it does, but more likely that it is working in conjunction with a more powerful compulsion or habit in the smoker.

Marketing: Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry funds the majority of mainstream medical research. This means that mainstream medical researchers are often looking to solve conditions with a pill rather than personal responsibility. For example, the Nicotine Patch is marketed as a way to cure smoking addiction. So is Nicotine gum. People are told that these will cure their biological addictions to smoking by slowly weaning them off nicotine. However, this approach avoids addressing the underlying reasons people smoke and avoids helping them realize that smoking is a habit that they can control. This is not to say that mainstream medicine falsifies research or has malicious intentions, but it is important to see that there is a link between the approach, conclusions, and funding.

Most doctors and researchers claiming that smoking is an addiction use the concept that nicotine is an addictive substance as their central argument. Whether or not this is true is difficult to discern, but what doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out is that smoking is a habit, something that people choose to do out of their own free will, although often as a way to relieve stress or cave in to social pressures. Approaching smoking as a habit does not have to dispute the fact that nicotine is a harmful or even addictive substance-both concepts can coexist; because what is most important is teaching people to control their habits not give in and give up because they think they are biologically incapable of putting that last cigarette out.

If you found this article of interest and would like to be notified as more articles become available subscribe on my website www.LifeCoachToQuitSmoking.com.  Also ‘Like’ my Facebook page to get exclusive offers, share your stories and join our community at www.facebook.com/lifecoachtoquitsmoking.

Mind Over Matter: Smoking Cigarettes, A Force of Habit


Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Smoking cessation is about habit cessation – if you want to stop smoking, you have to defeat your mind and not your body. The common belief about smoking over the last 50 years is that smokers are physically addicted to tobacco, particularly nicotine. While it is true that the body can become addicted to tobacco, research published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology from Tel Aviv University confirms what many smokers and non smokers have known all along: Smoking is a more of a psychosocial habit and less of a physiological addiction.

While it doesn’t seem like rocket science to deduce that smoking is a habit influenced by social elements, it is not a particularly popular theory. Dr. Rueven Dar of Tel Aviv University suspects that this has to do with opposition from nicotine addiction advocates: “These findings might not be popular with advocates of the nicotine addiction theory because they undermine the physiological role of nicotine and emphasize mind over matter when it comes to smoking.” Dr. Dar definitely is on to something: when it comes to smoking cessation, people don’t like to think they can be in the driver’s seat when it comes to quitting. It is much easier to blame smoking on a physical addiction than it is to take responsibility for changing the habit. Smoking cessation is easier to relegate to the back of a smoker’s mind if they don’t think that quitting has anything to do with their own willpower.

Dar and his research team were able to determine that smokers crave cigarettes as a result of psychological cues and not nicotine cravings or withdrawal. They conducted an experiment with flight attendants in which they monitored their smoking behavior on flights that were 10-13 hours long and flights that were 3-5 hours long. They were able to conclude that the duration of the flight had no impact on craving levels, and were surprised to find that craving levels were higher for flight attendants that had just completed the short flight. Were nicotine as physiologically addictive, the flight attendants should have felt stronger cravings after the longer flight. The fact that the cravings had lessened or were the same after the long flight indicates that the smokers had gone longer without their habit of smoking-the longer you give up a habit, the less effect it has on you.

So what are the implications the Tel Aviv University study for smoking cessation? Dr. Dar believes that smoking cessation techniques should concentrate on the psychological aspect of smoking rather than the physical addiction; teaching people to be cognitively aware of their actions and to learn to control their thoughts and cravings. The power to break your smoking habit lies in your hands, or maybe it would be better to say it lies in your thoughts. For Dr. Dar and many others in the fight against tobacco, mind over matter is the key to smoking cessation.

If you found this article of interest and would like to be notified as more articles become available subscribe on my website www.LifeCoachToQuitSmoking.com.  Also ‘Like’ my Facebook page to get exclusive offers, share your stories and join our community at www.facebook.com/lifecoachtoquitsmoking.