There is no doubt that smoking a cigarette (or its substitutes: cigar, nargila, etc.) is pleasurable to those who do smoke. It's not that smokers do not know the harms of smoking, but that the nature of the human mind, particularly the sub-conscious, tends to put the most recent of thoughts and feelings on top of the list. So when a smoker looks at a pack of cigarettes, the knowledge of its harms is buried dozens of layers down in the sub-conscious, and the stimulus that surfaces for the conscious to consider is how good it's going to feel when the smoker sucks in that first cool whiff.

Smokers, thus, continue to smoke for the same reason some of us continue to drink brandy or eat a cheesecake drowned in warm caramel and chocolate syrup: it is pleasurable to do so. Yet it is equally true that what is pleasurable to one is not necessarily pleasurable to another. That is because pleasure is conditioned into ourselves from a time long past, usually from a younger age when habits are engraved more easily.

Younger children emulate their parents and other adults because they look up to their greatness. You see a little boy wearing his dad's shoes or pretending to read a newspaper, a little girl kissing a doll to sleep because that's what her mom does to her. Then we grow up and begin to emulate our friends, who seem to be much cooler than our lame parents who by then do nothing but give us orders and make threats, or so we choose to remember. That's when the habit of smoking is usually acquired: a combination of finding acceptance among friends and rebelling against too strict parents.

But we can't remain hostage to our teenage habits forever. There is no question that smoking is a habit that is going to kill us, directly or indirectly. If one were to try to dig out the negatives of smoking buried in the sub-conscious, one would name the obvious ones: possible cancer of the lungs and heart attacks. They quickly console themselves with facts like "well not all smokers die from smoking," and "I'd probably die from something else way before cigarettes kill me."

First of all, it's not possible cancer, but very probable. The risk of getting cancer from smoking is very high, and the older one gets the more certain it becomes that a smoker would get cancer. Although statistics show that the number one reason people die from is smoking, we quickly remind ourselves that people can die from all other kinds of things, like the number two killer: stress, usually ending in a heart attack, heart failure, or a stroke to the brain.

In fact, smoking makes the number two killer more likely to visit us. That's because the tar that builds up in the veins causes our hearts to work harder to pump through the same amount of blood that a normal and healthy person does. Smoking is what overworks and stresses the heart, which means that the heart's lifespan is inevitably going to become shorter. This is not a matter of probability, but certainty. The likelihood of dying from cigarettes is absolute, unless we die from something else before cigarettes get to us.

Moreover, a smoker cannot inhale a breath as deep as a non-smoker can, because the tar that has built up inside the lungs, especially the lower part, make it impossible to take in the same amount of oxygen, which hurts the brain the most. Without oxygen, the brain cannot function properly, and with lesser oxygen intake, a smoker suffers from anxiety, stress, and a lack of concentration and cognition. A smoker, of course, is unaware of what he's missing, or that his heart beats faster, because he is unable to take a deep-enough cleansing breath into his lungs; because he or she cannot remember what it was like to have healthier lungs, heart, and brain. Like the myth of the frog sitting in a pot of water that is gradually getting warmer, the frog doesn't jump out of the pot to save its life as it is not aware that it is being cooked.

A smoker is also unaware of how aweful the smell of his or her breath truly is, or how terrible their clothes and homes smell, because they are constantly smothered in it. They lose the ability to smell and taste food and beverages the way a non-smoker does. Non-smokers, of course, are quickly repelled by the stinking smell, but may choose to conceal their repulsion out of politeness. Some smokers convince themselves that brushing their teeth and chewing fragrant gum on a regular basis would suffice, but non-smokers know they don't.

So why do smokers continue to smoke, waiting for the inevitable day when they would lay on a hospital bed, with tubes sticking in and out of their bodies, helpless, awaiting surgery after surgery; awaiting loved ones to visit them and feel their humiliating pity?

"The duality of behavior (pain and pleasure) control our behavior, and as long as pleasure exceeds pain, the smoker will continue to smoke, until he becomes very sick and the doctor tells him that he has cancer or that his arteries are blocked. Here, the experience of pain will exceed the experience of pleasure, and so the smoker quits smoking. Although there are some people who still continue to smoke after such news. I believe they do so because they develop a genuine and sub-conscious desire to die."

In this world there are victims (smokers), survivors (non-smokers), and tobacco company executives. Ask yourself, would you let me try out a drug I developed in my kitchen on you, to see its effects, in return for some cash, say a $100? You wouldn't let me, because we both know your health is priceless! So how is it that a smoker willfully agrees to inhale a substance that is proven beyond any doubt to be deadly? Not only are they doing it for free, but to add insult to injury, they're actually paying for it! They willfully give money to the tobacco company, and take in a substance that is going to lower the quality of their life until the day it kills them. How stupid is that? At least join the tobacco company executives, become one of those who make the drug and spread it among children in return for cash, lots of cash. That sinister life would be a lot better than being the victim; the one who got duped into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to destroy their own lives.

If I were to ask my trust-worthy friend to look after something precious that belongs to me, like say a necklace, and I trusted him with it, just for a couple of days, he would surely go out of his way to make sure that the necklace is kept in a safe place. Or imagine a country's president or a king you adore and respect knocks on your door and asks you to look after their child, just for a couple of hours, wouldn't you go out of your way to make sure that the child is sufficiently cared for? It is self-evident that our own lives are more precious than a friend's necklace or a king's child. We were given the gift of life, and it is the least we can do to protect ourselves and our bodies from all that is harmful and hurtful. It is built in our DNA to want to survive, and this drug wrap overrides our instincts to deceive us into thinking that getting it after wanting it so badly is a form of pleasure.

A cigarette is a deadly poison, masked with an instantaneous pleasure that is only gained through habit. Once the habit is overcome, the pleasure will no longer be there. Nay, the pleasure of breathing deeply, the pleasure of having a healthier heart and body, the pleasure of having a fresh and clean breath, the pleasure of maintaining our teeth and avoiding cancers, and the pleasure of being able to live longer and healthier surpasses the pleasure of smoking tens of times.

The 21 Days Program
How to Quit Smoking Effectively and Permanently

To get rid of a habit, any habit, good or bad, psychologists have found that it takes two steps:

  1. To make the decision to quit.
  2. To follow the "21 Days" program.

As for the first step, it literally takes a second to accomplish. There is no need to wait till you are lying down on a hospital bed awaiting heart surgery for you to make that decision.

As for the second step, the 21 days process consists of a very simple program. Psychologists have learned that, unlike a computer, the human brain does not have a delete button. And we certainly cannot delete a habit, but we can replace it with another habit. Substitution is possible in the human psyche. Some smokers have resorted to holding a pen, even biting on it at times. Others have switched to peeling, breaking and eating seeds, or using a straw to drink every beverage. A smoker may try one or more substitutes until they find the one that works.

We also know that human nature does not like sudden changes in a lifestyle. Some would claim to know people who have quit smoking suddenly and instantly, but those usually have unique or abnormal circumstances, and the probability of reneging is higher. The best way, like with all great things, is to do it gradually and patiently. First, a decision is made to reduce the number of cigarettes per day by just one, little, tiny cigarette. Once that day passes successfully, another decision is made to reduce the number by one more. After ten successful days, the human mind becomes more accepting of the process, and is then willing to reduce the number by three per day.

Know for a fact that the chemically-induced addiction to nicotine only requires four cigarettes a day to satisfy the craving. All cigarettes smoked above four are habit, not physiological need. By the time you get to day 21 of the process, quitting smoking forever will become as easy as a handshake.

This process has been scientifically proven to work at a rate of 100%, if followed correctly. But it can only start when the decision to quit has been made. If you're a smoker, I hope you make this decision soon and join our group: the survivors.


Oday Baddar