Who do we think of when we imagine a smoker? Is it a ruggedly handsome cowboy leaning against his saddle and enjoying a cigarette after a hard day of wrangling cattle? A noir film detective smoking in his office trying to crack a difficult case? A businessman in a custom made suit smoking to celebrate another deal?
All of them independent, powerful people enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures: inhaling a lungful of chemical ridden, carcinogenic smoke.
Tobacco companies have succeeded in making us subconsciously associate smoking with freedom and success. We never imagine these icons battling lung cancer. We never think about the countless dollars they spend on their cigarettes.
Every time a smoker lights up, his brain releases a hit of dopamine and endorphins. These are feel-good chemicals naturally used by the brain to reinforce positive behaviours such as acquiring food or succeeding in social interactions. From the very first cigarette the brain trains itself to need nicotine, and this becomes a physiological need as strong as thirst or hunger.
The Cost of Smoking
The smoker loses not only his freedom and independence but also money, time and health.
Once we take a step back and examine the situation it’s clear how absurd it is that we used to associate an addiction with rebellion and independence. At approximately five dollars a pack your average one pack a day smoker will spend over two thousand dollars on cigarettes every year. The costs add up for every year of smoking, of course, and these numbers include only the obvious, directs costs.
Every time a worker takes a smoke break his productivity suffers; with every cigarette he smokes his health gets worse. According to a study by CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health each pack carries an additional cost of $5.16 in productivity losses and $5.31 in medical costs.
Time to Quit
Fortunately, public opinion on smoking is shifting. Smoking becomes less popular and trendy every year. It has largely disappeared from our movies and television screens. Smokers are not only harming themselves with their habits, but their decision to continue smoking can hurt their family and friends.
The dangers of secondhand smoking are undeniable, as well. Every cigarette pack contains warning about the damage it will do to your body, but these warnings fail to mention that the same can happen to your children or partner.
Quitting is a difficult challenge. Nicotine is a powerful drug and breaking the vicious cycle of addiction requires a lot of strength and willpower. To be a quitter or ex-smoker is an accomplishment you can be truly proud of for years to come. The money you will save and the visible improvement of your health will be a testament to your willpower and commitment. It can be intimidating to try to take it on all at once, so you can simply start by cutting back your intake. Every year two million people quit smoking for good, and you can be one of them. Take your first step to freedom today.
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