Bernard Antoine, a smoking cessation and addiction specialist in Paris, France, helps smokers let go of common beliefs and misconceptions about smoking and quitting to help them kick the habit with success.
Here Are 10 common myths about smoking debunked for quitters in need of some extra motivation:
1) Quitting smoking requires willpower
Quitting smoking isn’t a question of willpower or good intentions. It’s a question of genuine reasons and motivation. You shouldn’t stop smoking to please someone else or to save money, but because of a real desire to free yourself from smoking dependency.
2) Quitting smoking means gaining weight
Weight gain isn’t inevitable. Certain people don’t put on any weight at all. On average, female quitters will gain 2.8kg and men will gain 3.2kg. Smokers tend to have a lower lipid profile since smoking increases metabolism and burns fat. Plus, nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant.
To avoid frustration and compensating with food, I advise quitters to adopt a strategy based on their desire to break free from the habit.
3) Quitting smoking will make me moody and irritable with family and friends
After quitting smoking, mood-related problems such as irritability and depression can arise in the first three weeks, but this emotional state doesn’t last.
4) You should wait for the “right time” to quit smoking
The right time is whenever you decide it is, irrespective of the usual worries and troubles you face in day-to-day life. You need to learn to live without cigarettes in all the situations that usually push you to smoke.
5) E-cigarettes can help you stop smoking progressively
The problem with e-cigarettes is that smokers don’t break the Pavlovian conditioning reflexes linked to the habit. You just become a continuous vaper, as e-cigarettes never go out.
Nicotine alone doesn’t make people addicted to smoking. It’s the combination of nicotine with certain by-products of burning that lead to withdrawal symptoms. Plus, chemistry alone doesn’t explain the phenomenon of dependency. It’s also behavioral and psychological.
7) Smoking helps calm you down and reduce stress
On the contrary, smoking is a mental stimulant. Nicotine is like a soft version of cocaine. It has no psychotropic effects but it keeps you alert and awake. Unlike alcohol, smoking causes vasoconstriction.
8) It’s better to smoke an occasional joint than to smoke cigarettes
If you continue to smoke joints from time to time, you risk maintaining the underlying desire to smoke. It’s therefore a very bad idea. You won’t be able to “let go” of cigarettes while you’re still smoking, no matter what the substance.
Remember too that cannabis can be 20 times more carcinogenic than tobacco and is illegal in South Africa.
9) Smoking 20 cigarettes is twice as bad as smoking 10
The biggest risk factor isn’t the number of cigarettes you smoke per day, but the duration of your exposure.
10) Nicotine replacement products and medications are the key to quitting smoking
To quit smoking, you should above all seek support on psychological and behavioral levels from a trained professional. Hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) get good results.