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Smoking – Is It a Disease or Just a Bad Habit? [POLL]

(Flickr User ninasaurusrex)
(Flickr User ninasaurusrex)

Anyone who you know smokes might be reluctant to admit they’re addicts but some science says otherwise.

Not that that will let them off the hook if they want to kick the habit; but now you know why some have a terrible time at it.
I always thought it was just a bad habit – one that I was able to break going cold turkey.


Simple. Once I’d made up my mind to stop, I could feel the blood flowing to all my extremities – feet, toes, hands, fingertips, and another one very important to guys which needs no explanation.

In fact, I never got why some who’ve smoked went to hypnotists, tried various medications (Chantrix is the one that comes to mind. Among its side effects are suicidal thoughts – just what you need!)

According to this:

A journal article on why smokers struggle to quit is drawing fire from experts in New Jersey and across the country who say the conclusions are a bit simplistic.
The article, published last month in PLOS ONE , argued smokers have a poor ability to delay satisfaction despite negative long-term consequences.

“In other words,” the authors of the study wrote in a companion oped that appeared in the New York Times, “it’s their poor self control.”

The study is creating a tempest in the world of smoking-cessation, with doctors and therapists saying the conclusions are too narrow.

“The conclusions that are being drawn on don’t really make sense,” said Chris Kotsen, a certified tobacco treatment specialist, psychologist, and program manager at the tobacco quit center at Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville. “It’s more complicated than self control. The brain has been impacted.”

Karen Kuhl, 57, of Staten Island, had been smoking for 45 years and tried to quit several times before joining the Tobacco Dependency Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey eight months ago. She said it’s more than a physical addiction, it’s a mental and emotional addiction.

“When you smoke, you don’t have to share that cigarette with anyone,” she said. “That’s your cigarette and you can sit down with it. You don’t have to lash out at a co-worker. You can go outside with your cigarette. When I stopped, I felt like I was giving up my best friend. It was like a funeral.”

Michael Steinberg, director of the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program, also disagreed with the paper’s conclusions and said the addictive quality of not only the nicotine but of the thousands of other chemicals should not be overlooked.

“Smoking is a very complicated behavior,” he said. “I think the addictive part of tobacco on the brain drives a lot of behavior that defies common sense in the face of knowing how dangerous smoking is.”

Not everyone has the same degree of self-control. I don’t think my experience is all that rare (in giving up smoking); but I’m sure that to those who choose (and I do mean choose ) to continue to smoke, the easy answer will be “I’m an addict and can’t stop!)

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