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Can Your Friends Keep You Smoking?

Nov 28, 2007
Can another person really make you smoke? Now I don't mean that first time, when you were 16, and you took that puff because your friends urged you to. I mean now, today, socializing with people who smoke. Do the smokers you know, and love, and spend time with keep you reaching for that thin white stick again and again?

And why are they doing it? Are their intentions evil?

Well, probably not evil. Just a bit selfish. And, more than that, convenient. You see, if you were to stop smoking, you would be proving it can be done. And if you are the same gender as they are, the same age, in the same social sphere, you would prove it even more. And they would no longer have an excuse. They'd feel ashamed. Every time they would think they needed to light up a cigarette, and you didn't need to, they'd feel more ashamed.

So for the ones who don't want to change, it's better to keep you smoking, so you can keep them smoking, "proving" to your entire social network, and those who love and nag you, that smokers simply cannot quit. Except for one thing.

I heard this story about a man who had a heart attack. Let's call him Fred. Fred's heart attack was serious. He was in intensive care for a while. In fact, he was at Death's door for a while. And when his friends came to visit, Fred's wife would stop them before they entered his room. "If you have cigarettes with you, give them to me," she said. A few protested that they certainly wouldn't give Fred a cigarette, as sick as he was.

"I'm sure you wouldn't," she said, "but this way, if he asks for one you can honestly tell him that you just don't have any." That sounded reasonable to them, so they surrendered their packs to Fred's wife without argument.

Funny thing was she never gave them back. Not ever. It turned out she didn't happen to be around when they were leaving, and most of them didn't even remember they had turned them over, and that was that. The longer they hung out with Fred, the less chance they had to smoke.

Another funny thing was, they didn't remember about smoking for quite a while after leaving Fred's bedside. Every day these "nicotine addicts" smoked less, if at all. By the time Fred left the hospital, five out of seven of his closest friends had accidentally become nonsmokers. Even the remaining two cut down their smoking by half.

Want to quit smoking? Maybe you don't have a sick friend in the hospital with a clever
wife. That's okay. Here's the trick: Spend time with nonsmokers.

You've probably heard that if your close friends are wealthy, you're likely to be wealthy too, even if you weren't to begin with. Same thing. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. You hang out with smokers, you smoke when they do. You hang out with nonsmokers, you don't smoke too much. You don't want to sneak out for a smoke because you might miss the next joke or juicy piece of gossip, because your non-smoking aren't going to hold the punch line till you get back. Or save you that last piece of pie. So you find yourself forgoing that cigarette. And the next. And the next. And pretty soon, you may not smoke at all. Worth a shot, isn't it? 2007 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz is a mind coach who uses hypnosis and other techniques to help people break unproductive habits and create productive ones. Based in Chicago, she specializes in smoking-cessation and women's issues. For more info, visit http://www.nonsmoker4life.com and http://www.hypno-attraction.com or call 312-640-1584.
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