The Social Factor of Quitting Smoking

It is not easy to stop smoking because you have to deal with the addiction on two fronts – physical and psychological. You not only have to suffer with physical withdrawal symptoms, you also have to face psychological withdrawal. If that is not enough, you are faced with the social factor of quitting smoking, as well

There are a number of positive social outcomes that motivate people to quit smoking. Among them are: most relationships improve, and being a non-smoker can help when seeking a job or securing promotions at work. Unfortunately, there is one potential negative social outcome – resistance from your smoker friends.

Image by John Benson
Image by John Benson

Why Your Smoker Friends Do Not Support You

Almost every smoker has said at one time or another that they want to quit. As a result, it seems that friends would support your decision and cheer you on as you fight the addiction.

Unfortunately, for many people, their experience is just the opposite – sometimes to the extreme. Friends may give you a hard-time, encourage you to smoke again, or even turn their backs on you. That kind of peer pressure can be difficult to withstand.

Smoking is what smokers do together. It creates a bond. Asking for a light or offering a cigarette is a way to break the ice when people come into your group. It is an integral part of your social persona. When you quit smoking, you are breaking a long-standing social custom.

Some may interpret your choice to quit as a criticism of their behavior. You may have said that you are quitting because it is an unhealthy, costly, disgusting habit; so, their decision to continue smoking reflects badly on them.

When you demonstrate the willpower to quit, it may make your smoker friends insecure. They have probably talked about quitting, but you are actually doing it. No matter what they say to your face, they may actually want you to fail. Your failing would make them feel better about their smoking.

Quitting at Work

As noted above, one reason for quitting is that you will have better job prospects, but your current job situation may make quitting impossible. Many people start smoking because everyone smokes where they work. Smoke breaks are a normal part of the day and provide a chance to relax and chat. If you quit, what will you do during smoke breaks?

You can still join the group and have coffee instead; but, it is tough to sit around while everyone else smokes. You are already fighting the battle of your addiction and trying to resist the temptation to smoke. Sustaining your commitment when everyone else is lighting up can prove to be nearly impossible.

Smoking and Drinking – A Match Made in Heaven

If you like to party with friends – smoking and drinking are typically part of that activity. Luckily, many states no longer allow smoking in bars, which helps with this scenario. But, the reality is that tobacco and alcohol is a match made in heaven (or hell, if you are trying to quit).

Strategies to Resist the Urge to Smoke

When you are in the process of quitting, it will be much better to avoid situations that tempt you to smoke. For example: stay out of bars, stop hanging out with the non-smokers at work, and take a social break from some of your smoker friends. All of these can be painful; but, remember they are only temporary measures. It usually works best if you let friends and co-workers know what is going on, and ask for their support.

The good news is that not all of your smoker friends will snub you. In fact, the majority will see what you’re doing as a wonderful thing. You may even inspire others to do the same. In other words, the social factor of quitting smoking may not be as bad as it seems.

Photo Credit: Light my fire via photopin (license)