Or why it will never happen to me,
Or why I don’t really need to quit…
Addicts have little use for the facts… The only fact that means anything to them is that they hurt if they don’t maintain their current level of nicotine. So they rationalize their behavior and manufacture reasons for not quitting. They fear going through withdrawal; they fear the possibility of failure. They don't want to admit that they made a ma stake.
Here a few of the more familiar excuses
What do you say
when someone offers you one of their flimsy excuses?
“I have never been addicted - if I want to smoke only one a day I can.” (Said by someone who had already smoked 20 in front of me.)
“My heart and lungs are in perfect condition so why should I bother to stop?”
“All my family have always smoked and there have been no deaths from cancer.”
WORSE CONSEQUENCES / TRIVIAL RISK
· Most people who quit smoking put on weight
· Smoking only takes a few weeks off your life, what's the big deal?
· I would rather live a shorter life and enjoy it than a longer one where I will be deprived of this pleasure.
· My doctor said the odds were only one in ten I'd get lung cancer, so that's not too bad.
· If you started smoking when you were young the damage is already done
· I will quit by age X and thereby evade health consequences."
EVIDENCE AGAINST SMOKING IS SUSPECT/COVER UP
· The medical evidence that smoking causes cancer is not convincing
· Many people who smoke all their lives live to a very old age, so smoking is not all that bad for you
· If smoking is so bad for you, they wouldn't allow cigarettes to be sold
· Lots of doctors & nurses smoke
· Most lung cancer is caused by air pollution, petrol & diesel fumes etc
· Everything causes cancer these days
· I'm exposed to all these chemicals at work anyway, I might as well smoke.
· It is all a state of mind, the important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. If you enjoy smoking then it will not harm you. (cf: cancer strikes people with negative attitudes)
· People smoke like chimneys in France/Japan/etc and don't get lung cancer like they do here.
FATALISM/YOU HAVE TO DIE OF SOMETHING
· I could get run over by a bus./ Its also dangerous to walk across the street.
· If I smoke I will die from smoking and if I do not smoke I will still die but from something else/ You have to die from something, why not enjoy yourself?
· Most people smoke
MY SMOKING IS DIFFERENT
· I think you have to smoke a lot more than I did/do to put your health at risk/ Smoking less than 20 cigarettes per day is safe
· Lung cancer is "genetic" - I've made it so far, so I'm probably OK
· If smoking were that bad for me, my doctor would have warned me
MEDIATING INFLUENCES / PROTECTIVE BEHAVIORS
· Physical activity and sports stretch the lungs and get the tar out of your system
· People who eat well and exercise vigorously but still smoke will be healthier and live longer than non-smokers who eat poorly and are sedentary.
· It's safe/OK to smoke low-tar cigarettes
· I can quit anytime I want to
· I'll quit at the first sign of trouble/harm.
· I know people who died just after quitting
· I smoke but do not inhale deeply into my lungs.
SCIENCE WILL PROVIDE
· By the time I get it, they'll have invented a cure (among teens).
Thanks to Simon Chapman for his list, and all those who contributed to it.
Below are a series of these beliefs that we originally found were very prevalent among smokers
1. Most people who quit smoking put on weight
2. A lot of doctors smoke
3. If you started smoking when you were young the damage is already done
4. The medical evidence that smoking causes cancer is not convincing
5. Most lung cancer is caused by air pollution, petrol & diesel fumes etc
6. Most people smoke
7. I think you have to smoke a lot more than I did/do to put your health at risk/ Smoking less than 20 cigarettes per day is safe
8. Many people who smoke all their lives live to a very old age, so smoking is not all that bad for you
9. Physical activity and sports stretch the lungs and get the tar out of your system
10. It's safe to smoke low-tar cigarettes
11. Everything causes cancer these days
With thanks for these to Simon Chapman, Professor at the Department of Public Health & Community Medicine in Sydney, Australia
Here are a few more...
--By the time I get it, they'll have invented a cure (among teens).
--My aunt was 94 when she died ( with personal DNA gene-protection)
--You have to die of something...
--The medical evidence that smoking causes cancer is not convincing (a direct result of tobacco industry propaganda)
* If smoking really was harmful, the government would ban it - they ban lots of other things.
* I've been told that when you give up smoking, the damage is quickly mended. I'm going to give up when I'm older - like 30.
* I've got very wet lungs, smoke doesn't affect me.
(the last was said in all seriousness by a univ. professor - of psychology!)
The following is from New Jersey GASP
FAQs/Answers to Opposing Arguments
- These are answers to frequently asked questions about secondhand smoke, smokefree air policies and laws, and "smokers' rights". See our library for all New Jersey GASP fact sheets and position papers.
- What's the harm in secondhand smoke?
- People exposed to secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), suffer increased rates of cancer, heart disease, breathing and lung problems, and developmental problems. There is strong scientific evidence that ETS causes:
There is also evidence that ETS causes:
- lung cancer
- nasal sinus cancer
- heart disease
- acute respiratory infections (bronchitis and pneumonia) in children
- asthma and worsening of asthma in children
- chronic respiratory symptoms in children
- eye and nasal irritation in adults
- middle ear infections in children
- low birth weight or small size babies
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- cervical cancer
- worsening of cystic fibrosis
- decreased pulmonary (lung) function
- spontaneous abortion
- problems in intellectual performance and behavior in children.
- How serious can these problems be?
- It is estimated that between 40,000 and 68,000 Americans die each year because of problems caused by secondhand smoke.
- Who says so?
- Since the 1970s, scientific studies have been documenting the link between secondhand smoke and harm to human health. The following scientific and health organizations agree that secondhand smoke is a hazard:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Medical Association
Harvard School of Public Health
International Agency for Research on Cancer
National Academy of Sciences
National Cancer Institute
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Office on Smoking and Health
U.S. Public Health Service
U.S. Surgeon General
World Health Organization.
- Hundreds of governments and courts throughout the United States have made decisions to limit ETS, based on the scientific information. The evidence has also convinced thousands of proprietors of public places and workplaces to institute smokefree policies.
- There's already so much pollution, what difference does tobacco smoke make?
- Tobacco smoke paralyzes the cilia in people's bodies -- these cilia are like little brooms that sweep pollutants out of our respiratory systems -- and reduces the capability of our bodies to handle other pollutants, which are a part of our lives. Also, pollutants are synergistic; several together can be more harmful than the sum of their individual effects. Many of the pollutants in tobacco wouldn't be allowed if the source were something other than smoking. Finally, most people spend most of their time indoors, where tobacco smoke is usually the most significant pollutant. And, to quote a simple approach: two wrongs never make a right.
- What about auto exhaust and factory pollutants?
- Auto emissions and factory discharges are controlled.
- Well, everything's bad for you -- coffee, sugar, even apples. It's all too complicated.
- None of these other possible problems even begins to approach the level of hazards in tobacco. And really, it's not complicated: clean air is better than dirty air.
- But you're fat/you eat junk food/you don't exercise, so how can you say you're concerned about your health?
- I have the right to choose what's important to me. No one else can decide that for me.
- You didn't complain before.
- I know more now than I did before about how dangerous secondhand smoke is. I have the right to change my mind, to speak up about something I tolerated in the past.
- This is prohibition.
- There is a continuum between total license to smoke anything, anywhere, and total prohibition of tobacco. A society can choose to limit dangerous habits without totally prohibiting them. That's just what we do about automobiles, another potentially dangerous product, albeit one with benefits. We license drivers, inspect cars, design safe roads, set speed limits, etc. Alcohol is allowed but controlled by age of user, amount allowed, places allowed, and location, hours, and methods of sale. Our society has chosen, of course, total prohibition of some dangerous products and these limits are considered appropriate.
- People have a right to smoke.
- There is no constitutional freedom to use recreational drugs or to do medical harm to another person. Right is a strange word to describe a public health threat.
- It's not fair to tell smokers they can't go to [fill in the blank].
- Smokers may go anywhere. They just can't smoke everywhere. There are many things people do -- they play tubas, they cut their toenails, they burn incense -- but they don't do these things indiscriminately in public places. Herb Caen, the San Francisco newspaper columnist, wrote this parody about "smokers' rights" in restaurants: I grew up on a farm and certain things just make me feel comfortable. So, whenever I go out to a restaurant, I just like to take buckets of warm cow manure with me and put them on my table and tables near me.
- Smoking is an adult freedom of choice.
- Almost all smokers started in childhood, when they were too young to make a life-and-death choice, were overwhelmed by billions of dollars of tobacco marketing (which made an informed choice impossible), and continue smoking because of addiction. Freedom is a strange word for addiction, an addiction that most smokers say they wish they could quit.
- Tobacco is a legal product.
- Tobacco is really a quasi-legal product. Special licenses are required to sell it. It can't be advertised on the airwaves or large billboards. It's illegal to sell to minors. Its use is prohibited in many public places. It's more accurate to describe tobacco as a dangerous, controlled substance like alcohol and firearms. Indeed, the federal government groups them together in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. If tobacco were a new product, it would not be allowed into commerce today, given what is known about it.
- The majority of people in this meeting/office/restaurant are smokers, so the majority should prevail.
- This is lynch mob thinking. If three people want to rob another of health, a majority opinion is not the appropriate way to decide. Our society has a principle that some basic rights cannot be taken away from a minority by the majority.
- Restaurants (or other places) are private places; let the owners decide. People who don't like smoke can just go to another restaurant.
- Restaurants are places of public accommodation, licensed to serve everyone, and must meet minimum health standards. Also, restaurants are workplaces and employees there deserve the same protections as employees in other workplaces.
- There are too many laws and rules. Whatever happened to plain, old fashioned courtesy?
- If courtesy were adequate to protect people, society would need no laws at all. Besides, regulations don't interfere with people who are courteous, they only interfere with people who are discourteous.
- I want to smoke just as much as you want to have to air without smoke. Why should your wishes prevail?
- Smoking is optional. Breathing isn't.
- I need to allow smoking to make a profit.
- Scientific studies show that workplaces, malls, restaurants, and hotels don't lose business when smokefree air laws are passed. Once upon a time factory owners said they needed child labor to make a profit and cotton growers said they needed slave labor to make a profit.
- Our economy needs the income from the tobacco business. Government needs taxes from tobacco sales.
- This is short sighted. Society as a whole, and government in particular, spends more because of the death, disease, and destruction caused by tobacco than we gain from allowing tobacco business. Money not spent on tobacco would go into other areas. The human cost is the cost that really matters.