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Common Errors About Smoking


by Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.

The biggest mistake smokers/tobacco chewers make when trying to quit is giving up. Did you start smoking or chewing tobacco in only one attempt? Very few people succeed at complicated tasks the very first time. The same is true of people trying to stop using tobacco. The bottom line is KEEP TRYING.

Jumping in without a plan. Giving up cigarettes on a whim is a recipe for almost certain failure. Explore all of the quitting techniques available to you and then devise a concrete plan.

There are several options - self-help groups, relaxation exercises, aversion technique, hypnotism, nicotine gum or patches, etc. Ask successful quitters about what worked for them. Ask your doctor, too.

Ignoring your uniqueness. Do you smoke for self-indulgence? As a social prop? To reduce stress? To control weight? Once you understand what causes you to light up, you can begin to explore other, less destructive ways to satisfy your needs.

Quitting in secret. Smokers trying to quit often keep their intentions to themselves - - just when they need allies most. Better: Don't worry about public failure or ridicule. Ask family, friends, co-workers for support. Explain that you may be irritable for a while. Ask for patience, and no teasing.

Going it alone. Find out about smoking-cessation programs and support groups in your area. Contact the American Cancer Society (800-227-2345) and the American Lung Association (800-586-4872). These organizations can also provide general advice and written materials on quitting.

Believing you can have "just one." The only way to quit is to give up completely. For smokers, like alcoholics, a seemingly minor slip is inevitably followed by a relapse. During the first days and weeks after you quit, the urge to smoke may prove overwhelming at parties or with certain friends. If so, avoid them until your resolve not to smoke is stronger.

Switching to low-tar cigarettes. Those who try this usually end up smoking more cigarettes or inhaling more deeply -- so they continue to soak up the same levels of tar and nicotine.

Dr. Maheu is the Director of the Nicotine Recovery Institute in San Diego, CA. Her Nicotine Freedom Kit for tobacco smokers and chewers is available through The Bookshelf Catalog.

Copyright A9 1995 by Self-Help Psychology Magazine. All rights reserved.


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