Well, everywhere that smokers look, there are messages telling them how bad their tobacco habit is. People are used to reading that smoking increases your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. What can be detrimental to anti-tobacco advertising is that it can cut smokers down by shaming them into wanting to change. Negative ads can also try to make cigarette smokers feel fear. They will hopefully want to change to avoid the negative effects of smoking (up to and including death). What these ads may fail to do is offer smokers positive thoughts and real solutions.
"Smoking is still the single largest cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. It kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. For every death, at least 30 Americans live with a smoking-related illness."
When you read something like this, it's easy to stop and think negatively about yourself. It's easy to lose focus on what you will accomplish today. You might even deal with negative thoughts by going outside for a smoke. The thought process could look something like this:
"I am a smoker. This makes me a bad person. I intentionally light up every day and put harmful chemicals into my body. No matter how hard I try, I can't quit. I am not as good as other people who don't smoke. They are stronger, healthier, and happier people. Since I can't quit my addiction, I'll accept that one day I will die of lung cancer."
Don't let smoking ads make you feel bad about yourself. We're here to say that this is no way to think about the future. In the present moment, you're a living and breathing individual who is capable of living a full life. You have a brain with executive functions, which means that you're free to make decisions that could positively reshape the future. With the right options, you could change your health and your general outlook on life.
How Has Smoking Affected You?
At this point, you're reading this blog because you have doubts about whether you should continue your tobacco habit. There are also readers for whom negative messages about tobacco seem like a lot of nonsense. To the smoker, the habit is as natural as going to Starbucks for a cappuccino or taking a walk at dusk. Think about how smoking has affected your life. At first, smoking affects you in small ways. Over time, the effects of smoking become inescapable. In the early years, you feel a little more tired and irritable. Sometimes, you don't sleep that well.
You might get a little smoker's cough sometimes, and you could feel short of breath when doing things that are physically tough. You might cut back on smoking when you get sick, but you will usually smoke more as soon as you feel better. You get tired of explaining this habit to your doctor, and you continue to smoke. You make promises to other people that you will quit, but cigarettes are fully integrated into your daily life.
Dealing With the Stigma of Being a Smoker
It would be easy for us to give into negative thought processes and continue smoking for the rest of our lives. We would have that reassurance that our next smoke is always waiting for us. We wouldn't have to change. We also know that continuing as a smoker can shorten our lives. Somewhere inside ourselves, we have to find a desire to live a different way. What's more, we must cope with the social stigmas around us. People tend to make social judgments about smokers based on attitudes they have developed over many years.
People in older generations might be more accepting of smoking because they grew up with this common practice in movie theatres and restaurants. People in younger generations have lived in more smoke-free environments, and they may be less tolerant of the habit. It doesn't matter where you are in terms of your beliefs on smoking. As long as you are a smoker, you will face the negative attitudes that others have on the subject. At some point, you could decide that it is not healthy for you and try to change your habits.
Take Back the Moments in Your Day
While you may understand the health effects of smoking, you may not appreciate how much time that it takes up in a typical day. Being a smoker means that you must step away from the workplace (even if it's just for a few five-minute breaks per day). Smoke breaks are interruptions that could inconvenience your colleagues, especially when you're collaborating on big projects. They are also times that you break your focus on your own work tasks. When you return from a break, you must spend time re-focusing your attention. If you were able to quit smoking, you could take back the moments in your day that you used to spend outside lighting up. You could become more productive, which benefits your employer and could help you advance in your organization.
One way to take back your time is to try a meditation session that's designed for people who want to be positive. There are free meditation apps that you can download on a smartphone and sessions that you can watch on YouTube. Focus your mind on positive thinking that supports the decision to quit smoking.