In college, whenever we saw a senior smoke, we used to shout the anti smoking ad that had a catchy punch line that said “A cigarette in my hand, I felt like a man”. However, it was purely for entertainment purpose. While on one hand we knew it was bad for health, some part of us even believed that those who smoked were under a lot of stress. Those days even our heroes made smoking look so cool.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of India (GATS), 24.3% of males are tobacco users. What is alarming is that tobacco usage is one of the most easily preventable causes of deaths worldwide and yet every year there are nearly a million tobacco related deaths in India alone.
Every girl or wife who has a boyfriend or a husband who smokes must have at some point or the other emotionally blackmailed him to quit it. However, the rate of successful smoking quitters is as low as 5.3%. The big question now is, why do men smoke?
Why do men smoke?
Before we get to know why men smoke, we need to ponder why they began smoking in the first place. The most common reason for starting to smoke is peer pressure. From high school to office, most men started smoking only as a dare taken far too seriously. This constant desire to be accepted as a part of the cool group usually haunts them even through their adulthood. The reasons why most men smoke range from being super lame to scientifically proven facts.
- It makes them the cool dude: This notion is what got them started in the first place. They did feel like they were ‘The Man’ with the cigarette in their hand. You have Hollywood and Bollywood to vouch for it. Even though now there would be warning captions on the screen when the smoking scene is on. But again, it’s only the wife that is probably reading it and nudging the husband, while he is totally into the scene
- It’s the best icebreaker: “Got a light?” is probably the coolest conversation starter. How can a man give a negative answer to this one? Epic friendship stories begin with this smoke bonding. It instantly transforms you from a stranger to a group member. Plus, a cigarette is the best compliment for alcohol.
- It gives you sadistic pleasure: What better way to annoy anyone, other than doing the thing that irritates them. The smokers feel they have the upper hand in controlling the emotions of those who care about them, as they can manipulate them
- It is believed that it can relieve stress and improve concentration: Cigarettes contain nicotine that releases adrenalin on reaching the brain. It is this temporary high that creates a buzz of joy and alertness, finally leaving them even more tired. But then they smoke again to feel the same energy
- The presumption that it helps IBS: A majority of smokers will agree on this one. A smoker’s solution to the Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a puff early in the morning. Makes me argue at times, that if it had any truth then why wouldn’t docs prescribe it as a cure to constipation? But then when all the smokers back this reason, after some time you tend to accept it as well
10 ways to make your husband quit smoking
According to a survey conducted by WHO, around 2 million have enrolled themselves in the quit-tobacco programme in India. This proves that there is a will to kick the cigarette, but the only problem is that this will is not strong enough. As a life partner, it gets really frustrating to see your husband addicted to something that has a 50% chance of reducing his lifespan by 14 years. This thought, although motivating, still needs a lot of dedication and patience in achieving your goal to help your husband quit smoking.
1. Do not link your husband’s love for your family with his love for smoking
No matter how tempting this filmy emotional blackmail gets, do not give in. Be practical and accept the fact the just because he smokes doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you and your kids. If that was true, then it indicates that he doesn’t love himself, as he is the one who will suffer the most. Smoking is an addiction and must be treated as one. Period.
2. Chat with your husband
Discuss your concern about health issues related to smoking and how it is affecting the whole family. Treat this as a family issue rather than his personal problem; for instance, the effects of passive smoking on the kids. Again, be careful about what you say and make sure you don’t portray him as an insensitive father or a husband.
3. Plan the quit-smoking project together
Convince your husband that you are in this together and will stand by him to overcome all the hurdles that will come in the way of kicking the butt. Then make a chart listing the time when he gets the urge to smoke. Based on this chart, you can jot down the alternatives to smoking and try it out for a couple of days. For example, next time he wants to light up, you can give his favourite drink or dessert instead. You could reward him with a kiss as well and see if it can act as a substitute.
4. Offer other cigarette substitute
There are a lot of products easily available that can offer a good substitute to cigarettes, like nicotine gums, lozenges and patches, even e-cigarettes or prescription medicines. But try not to go overboard with these. Try to have a deadline up to which you will continue using this.
5. Keep motivating
The first two weeks are the toughest. Appreciate every tiny effort of your husband in the direction of quitting the smoke. If for to some reason he does have a puff in between, try to ignore it. Start over, no matter how much it kills you within. Show how determined you are and he will follow.
6. Make lifestyle changes
Try and make healthy food choices and fitness a part of the entire family. Fresh and healthy foods help to quit smoking. Any form of exercise, no matter how slapdash, releases some levels of endorphins that can give you a high similar to smoking. Most cravings last 10-20 min, so try to offer a healthy distraction during that time.
Related reading: My husband was a wonderful man, except when he got drunk
7. Note the before and after changes
Take a health check-up with your close-up picture before you start your mission and redo it after a month. The healthy change it brings to your husband’s body will boost his confidence in his decision of never smoking again. Internally the report will show an improvement in blood circulation and blood pressure. There will be visible physical changes too, like no more yellow teeth, sagging skin and hairfall.
8. Keep the right company
Keep tabs on the people who encourage smoking and make efforts to keep them away from your husband. If they are his office colleagues, then it’s a good idea to start this mission when you are on a holiday. Avoid any events where he will be tempted to take a puff.
9. Keep the home environment happy
One of the biggest triggers of the smoking habit is stress. Try and keep the home stress free and joyful. If possible, speak to his friends who can help him face stressful situations easily. Let him indulge in activities that make him happy, even if you may dislike it.
10. Reward abstinence
No matter how easy it may seem to you, for your husband giving up his need for so many years is nothing less than a miracle. This makes him deserving of an equally precious reward. So make him an offer he can’t resist, like fulfilling any of his fantasies or giving up something that he dislikes about you, and make sure you keep your word.
Ending an addiction has always been a herculean task, but then again, if you don’t fight for what you want, you can’t cry for what you have lost. So be patient and be persistent.