Lessons from the Dark Side: Benefits of the smoking habit

Written by Lydia | January 19, 2015

Everyone who has been to see me—knows that this is my shtick—that everything about smoking is great for your health and wellbeing. Everything, that is, sans cigarette!

I submit—that it is the relaxing and rejuvenating nature of the ritual more than the nicotine stimulant that smokers are most addicted to and have difficulty giving up. After all, nicotine leaves the body within one to two weeks upon quitting.  Taking hourly breaks, to stretch one’s legs and eyes, spend time in nature, with company and breathing deep, all provide significant health benefits both mental and physical, which would partly explain the difficulty in giving up the habit.

The inbuilt advantages of the smoking habit are the cues for taking such breaks, i.e., the addiction/craving, as well as when to end the break, i.e., reaching the end of the cigarette. While smoking represents a negative addiction, developing such a habit without the cigarette, could be considered a positive addiction, a concept initially proposed by William Glasser (1976), to explain how our bodies are wired to respond positively to healthy experiences, and eventually crave more once developed. This process is covered in the article reference below—that links the evidence for the health benefits of each component of the smoking ritual (without the cigarette), and develops the case for all people to engage in similar rituals.

Ievleva, L., & Murphy, S. (2006).  Reflections on smoke breaks:  The case for positive addiction rituals. Australian Journal of Psychology, 58, 148.