Is smoking cool anymore? It certainly was once upon a time. It was sign of sophistication at the turn of the last century, it was made in to an art form with cigarette holders, decorative pipes and cigar utensils. Everyone that was anyone would be seen puffing away with the rest of the Bright Young Things, it was almost socially unacceptable to not be smoking. Then as time went on the responsibility of glamourising the humble cigarette moved into the realm of the entertainment industry. Rock stars from the sixties onwards would never miss a photo opportunity to seductively blow smoke at a camera lens, and the coolest of actors would always have the coolest of shots adorned with a nonchalant cigarette draped somewhere about their person. The common all garden fag became the cool prop that never went out of fashion. It could be easily relied upon and was always at hand.
Then as the health risks of smoking became apparent to society, the cigarette turned in to a symbol of recklessness, and danger. Teenagers have always been attracted to smoking as it would make them look instantly older, but accompanied with the bad image as well, it became like cat nip to most people taking their GCSE’s. Interestingly, teenage girls smoke more than boys, and I assume this is because girls will always try and look older than they are, by using make-up and clothes, so smoking would be the obvious add-on.
However, all of this has now changed, hasn’t it?
For a number of reasons, I believe that smoking is not cool anymore. Let’s see; the cost of a pack of cigarettes has had the life taxed out of it, it is now genuinely expensive to smoke 20 a day. You would be spending £50 a week, that’s £2,600 a year, on a habit that is an optional add-on for looking cool. It would be cheaper for teenage girls to have one boob job that would last them forever, rather than smoke for a year. Not that I’m encouraging teenage plastic surgery, or anything like that, but when you consider the two ridiculous options I would have thought that the enhancement would give them more attention, more respect, and make them look older.
Another big reason why it’s not cool anymore, is the fact that you can’t do it anywhere. The smoking ban has eliminated the potential for someone with a normal life to physically fit in a large quantity of cigarettes per day. It used to be relatively common for people to smoke 40 or 60 a day, the classic ‘chain-smokers’ of yesteryear, but if you were to fit in that many in today’s world it would result in you either; spending vast amounts of your time on your own, outside; or, staying at home for vast amounts of time on your own. I don’t suppose you’d have to be on your own, but if you did live with a supportive, significant other that smoked alongside you, then jointly you would be smoking £15,288 worth a year of cigs. I am not an economist but that appears to me to be slightly higher than the average couple could afford who were not working, because to fit in the time to smoke that much means that you wouldn’t be working.
So, the amount people smoke has come down, and I think that the behaviour of smokers has changed as well. The once enjoyable, sociable cigarette, has now become the solitary mark of the loner. You watch people smoke as they walk between places, you see them brooding, and hunched, outside pubs as they stand in the wind and the rain, you see them having a good time with friends and then getting up to be by themselves again outside. The cigarette is no longer the symbol of suaveness and sophistication, instead it drives people to mope and skulk on their own. It still remains dangerous because of the blatant disregard that the smoker has for their own life, but it is now in the same dangerous category as chewing glass on your own is, or poking your finger in your eye as hard as possible. Dangerous, not cool.
I wonder if you ask smokers now to visualise the dream person that they want to be, would they still choose to smoke, if that meant that they would be on the outside of the circle, the loner, the awkward one at the party, the smelly one, the one that was the victim of their own habit. I doubt it. The retro image of the cool smoker is becoming more and more faded, as it is replaced by the reality of the modern day smoker.
It is National No Smoking Day on March 14th and it is expected that a million people will attempt to give up. The same figures have been achieved for the last few years, and there is around 8 million smokers left in the UK. It is undoubtedly a declining habit, and everyone knows that the cool people are always the first to make the change, and then the followers eventually catch up. There are many methods available for smokers to give up the habit, and an industry created to provide nicotine substitutes for the physical withdrawal. But nicotine only stays in your system for three days, and then there are no more physical effects to be experienced. The greater problem is in the mind. The smoker has to change their behaviour.
This is where NLP techniques and hypnotherapy become so effective. By using these skills a person can make a change in their unconscious mind, and it’s the unconscious mind that drives the behaviour. The feeling of automatically lighting up in a certain situation is an example of how unconscious the habit is. Habits are formed in a person’s neurology by repeating the same strategy over and over again, almost wearing a groove from the trigger to the outcome. So, for example, it’s a tea break at work (the trigger), this means you run your smoking strategy, which results in the outcome that you have smoked a cigarette. If you try and give up smoking by yourself, when you have a tea break, you must consciously run another strategy that provides a different outcome. This takes willpower and self discipline, and if your motivation is high enough then you’ll succeed.
But, if you have already taken that smoking strategy away, you don’t waste energy fighting it. It just becomes something you used to do, like any other old habit, and you are then completely free to choose what it is that you want to do instead. Ex-smokers that give up this way are not affected by seeing other people smoke, because it means nothing to them, whereas ex-smokers, that have used willpower to fight the urge, are often angered by other smokers because it reminds them of the struggle that they once had.
Visit www.clearlantern.co.uk and get in touch, if you want to stop pretending to be cool.