Smoking cigarettes, like eating unhealthy foods, and buying things outside our budgets are often impulsive choices, ones we make again and again, all while knowing in the broad sense that they are bad for us. So to understand why strategies to combat them so often fail, we have to first consider how impulsivity interferes with learning and influences our decision-making. In the United Kingdom, France, and Ireland have recently become the latest countries to require cigarette manufacturers to use plain packaging on their cigarettes. The health warnings are printed in large fonts, along with images of tarry lungs and clogged arteries. To the U.S. this sounds like a marketing and money making landslide, but these countries see it as a chance to prevent non-smokers from starting, and curbing the amount smoked by current users. Not associating catchy logos and seductive images gives your brain a rest from associating smoking with a glamorous, fun and free lifestyle. In the U.S. we have raised the price and taxes on cigarettes in an attempt to limit the amount of current smokers, interested ones, and especially teens. This has worked to a degree, but it is interesting to see the variety of approaches being implemented in other countries.
Among all current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, nearly 7 out of 10, so about 69 percent, have reported in 2010 that they wanted to quit smoking. Only about 4 to 7 percent are actually able to quit, and for many it can bring episodes of depression. People suffering from depression are more likely to smoke, and just from smoking you double your chance of having depression and anxiety, so it is a vicious cycle many feel they can’t get out of. There are medications, gums, and patches out there today to aid in quitting, and have fairly good outcomes. It is reported that 25 percent of smokers who use medicines can stay smoke-free for over 6 months. Support groups are also recommended, and taking up something new to occupy your time when you would normally be smoking, such as knitting, working out, cooking, etc. has also proven to help people greatly.
So if you or someone you love is a smoker there is help to quit. Get the facts, and review all your options with your doctor for the best possible chance to quit, and stay off cigarettes for good. Check out the smokers quit fact sheet, the link is posted below, provided by Dr. Oz, it has great statistics and information you may find worthwhile.