Newly discovered evidence confirms a long-held suspicion: Smoking is our number-one drug addiction problem. Yet this realization' provides the best clue to a program of overcoming this health hazard.
A recent outpouring of studies from research centers now supports a long-conjectured theory: For most smokers, smoking is a particularly stubborn form of drug addiction addiction to the nicotine molecule. Experts in the Office of Smoking and Health (part of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare) have bowed to the weight of growing evidence. And United States Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond, in his signed preface to the 1979 federal report on smoking, calls nicotine "a powerful addictive drug."
Not Just a Habit
Medical World News, March 5, 1979, carried summaries of the recent studies confirming nicotine's addictive powers. These findings answer, in great part, why smoking is more than just a hard-to-break habit that can be overcome with health warnings, stop-smoking campaigns, curbs on cigarette advertising or "safer" low-tar/low-nicotine cigarettes. For millions of people, smoking is as much a classic drug addiction problem both physically and psychologically as heroin addiction. But as in other forms of drug addiction, individuals vary in how their bodies metabolize nicotine, and thus in how they respond when deprived of it. (Apparently only a lucky few, for unknown reasons, can smoke regularly and not become addicted.) The latest findings add weight to already voluminous reports and warnings that reveal smoking to be a serious and damaging personal and national health problem. Government authorities feel smoking is the single largest acquired cause of poor health. Even so, one must be strongly motivated to break nicotine's vicious grip. The good news is that some thirty million Americans have shaken the smoking habit since 1964. The bad news is that a decade-long barrage of anti-cigarette campaigns only temporarily dented the ranks of the' smoking population. Over fifty million Americans still smoke. And now more and more persons, especially teenagers and women under peer and advertising pressures, are joining the smokers' ranks. Many are destined to become nicotine junkies!
Former Assumptions Erroneous
The original surgeon general's report on smoking and health released in 1964 alleged, with little supportive evidence, that smoking is a bad habit but not addicting, that no tolerance is developed, and that no antisocial behavior is caused by it. All three of these allegations have now been decisively refuted. As far back as 1942, in the British medical publication The Lancet, Dr. Lennox M. Johnston reported that "smoking tobacco is essentially a means of administering nicotine, just as smoking opium is a means of administering morphine." He based his assumption on the finding that when he and 35 other volunteer smokers received modest injections of nicotine, they "were disinclined to smoke for some time thereafter." Subsequent well-controlled studies one of them at the University of Michigan Medical School confirmed the observation that nicotine injections temporarily diminish a smoker's need to smoke. Another British researcher, Dr. C. D. Frith of the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, reported similar findings in 1971. On days smokers were given cigarettes with less nicotine than they were accustomed to, they puffed more frequently and smoked more cigarettes than on days when they were given moderate or high nicotine cigarettes. In 1974, yet another British study found smokers leave a shorter butt upon switching to a cigarette with less nicotine. The reason: the cigarette itself acts as a filter, holding back tar and nicotine in early puffs, but delivers them at higher levels as the butt shortens. In Drug Metabolism Reviews (1978), Dr. Michael A. H. Russell of Mauldsley Hospital's Institute of Psychiatry in London presented his "bolus mode!" of nicotine addiction. In this model, each puff of cigarette smoke represents a unit dose of nicotine. The nicotine in the puff passes through the lungs into the blood supply that reaches the brain in about seven seconds. Dr. Russell reported that, without conscious effort, the smoker adjusts his puffing pattern (time between puffs, length of puff, amount inhaled into lungs, time between cigarettes) to satisfy a certain level of nicotine need built up by the smoker. Dr. Russell says that although smokers may convince themselves smoking calms them, helps them work, etc., they are not gaining any real positive advantage over nonsmokers; it is just that in order to function without discomfort smokers must smoke to fulfill their bodies' need for a certain level of nicotine at a particular moment. "At 10 puffs a cigarette, a pack-a-day smoker gets more than 70,000 nicotine shots in the brain a year," says Dr. Russell. He also points out that nicotine addiction is apparently more rapidly established than heroin addiction. Unlike the adolescent who shoots heroin once or twice a week at first, he reports, an adolescent smoker experiences around 200 successive nicotine "fixes" by the time he finishes his first pack of cigarettes. Studies show four times as much nicotine is excreted when urine is acid than when it is alkaline. This means most smokers must smoke more on days when their urine level is acid to maintain nicotine levels. Researchers have found that stress whether at work, home or in social situations and drinking alcohol increases urine acidity. This helps explain why heavy drinkers and those engaged in stressful occupations so often have serious smoking problems.
Withdrawal Symptoms and Tolerance
While there are also social or peer pressures involved, addiction to nicotine
"For millions of people, smoking is as much a classic drug addiction problem as heroin addiction."
explains, in a great part, why so many smokers find it difficult to give up the practice. In its 1977 report, Smoking and Health, the Royal College of Physicians of London says the "nicotine-withdrawal syndrome" is often composed of "intense craving, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression, difficulties with concentration," plus such physical effects as a fall in the pulse rate and blood pressure, constipation, sleep disturbance and impaired work performance. The Royal College reports that most people first starting to smoke often suffer such reactions as palpitations, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. But as they continue smoking they acquire a tolerance for nicotine and after a few years not only can take but require a high input of nicotine to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Smoking, then, is essentially a willingly or willfully self-administered disorder. Researchers note that smoking does not automatically lead to antisocial behavior as long as cigarettes are easily and cheaply available. However, the willingness of many smokers to forgo some of life's basic necessities in order to sustain their habit, even if poverty-stricken or, as history shows, even in prisoner-of-war camps, demonstrates the potential for antisocial behavior under imposed conditions of deprivation. Some authorities feel that if cigarette prices were raised to heroin levels, many cigarette junkies would behave in the same antisocial manner as do most heroin junkies.
What Difference Does It Make?
One may respond, "Why shouldn't I smoke, since it's my body?" Perhaps even a Christian may ask, "Is it a sin to smoke?" The Bible does not specifically say, "You shall not smoke!" (Smoking wasn't a common practice until it was copied from the New World Indians around the time of Columbus.) But Scripture does adjure: "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy [Spirit] ... and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's [not yours!]" (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Does it glorify God to pollute your body, ruin your health, court lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, force others to breathe your pollution, become a fire hazard to your home and personal property, and others' property? Hardly. That's not loving your neighbor or yourself! "There's no such thing as a safe cigarette. If it burns, it's dangerous," say health officials. Nicotine not only is an addictive substance it is also a poison. Sixty milligrams is actually lethal when administered in a single dose. The average filter cigarette contains 20 to 30 milligrams of tars and nicotine (of which the smoker inhales one or two). A persistent smoker is poisoning himself in proportion to how much he smokes and how well his body disposes of the poisons. Even if cigarette manufacturers reduce nicotine levels (which means addicted smokers will have to puff more to get their nicotine "fix"), they cannot eliminate all dangerous tars and gases. Says Alan Blum, M.D., "[From a medical point of view], what is 'tar'? It means poison at least 2,000 solid poisons, including arsenic and other known cancer causers, not to mention the toxic gases of carbon monoxide, ammonia and cyanide" (Medical World News, March 5, 1979). (Cyanide is the deadly poison administered to adherents of the People's Temple in Guyana some time back. You may recall that it was mixed with Kool-aid, bringing painful death to over 900 hapless people. Smoking is the equivalent of administering cyanide and other harmful substances into the body on the installment plan.) A Harvard Medical School health letter gives heavy smokers these chances of serious health problems as compared to nonsmokers: twenty-four times the chance of lung cancer, nineteen times the chance of emphysema, two or three times the chance of a heart attack, plus much more frequent incidences of mouth, lip, larynx, pancreas, and urinary-bladder cancer. Mothers-to-be have twice the chance of a miscarriage, and babies of smoking mothers on the average weigh less and suffer more birth defects (nicotine is absorbed through the placenta by the fetus). A British study says each cigarette cuts 5 1/2 minutes from one's life-span over 1 1/2 hours per pack. Other researchers cite other dangers. But why go on? Despite an enormous mountain of evidence that implicates smoking in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually, the cigarette industry will try to muddle the issue with cries of "lack of absolute proof." So will many smokers. Will you?
Strategy to Quit Smoking
If you are a smoker, you can quit successfully, and for good. Millions have quit smoking. Other millions, however, have given up the attempt after a short struggle. It is clear that conquering nicotine or smoking addiction is not possible without determined effort and strong motivation. Halfhearted attempts or weak convictions will not produce success. To succeed, you have to buck not only your own desires, magnified by nicotine addiction, but possibly strong peer pressure as well. There are physical and spiritual reasons to quit smoking. We will discuss both basic physical and spiritual principles, as it is important to mobilize all available resources for the battle. A primary purpose for quitting, of course, will be to protect one's health and physical well-being. It is simply
"A British study says each cigarette cuts 5 1/2 minutes from one's life-span over 1 1/2 hours per pack."
illogical to destroy the intricately balanced functions of the human body with a host of poisons it was never designed to ingest. The smoking habit also subtly creates defects in the smoker's character, attitude toward life and in his logic and ability to reason, often to the point that smokers will, with little care or concern, disregard not only their own health but the health and well-being of others to satisfy their enslaving habit. To continue smoking, a smoker must minimize or blind his mind to proven health dangers or smoking-related suffering, perhaps even ignore telltale health warnings such as a persistent "smoker's hack" or shortness of breath. He must fabricate lame rationalizations and clichιs, such as, "Well, you gotta die of something!" Many smokers have quit smoking on their own. Some, however, may need extra help from stop-smoking clinics or health agencies. Since these clinics or agencies vary in cost (free to expensive) and offer many different approaches (not all are necessarily recommended or equally as good), one needs to investigate first. Also, individuals' with a serious health or a heavy smoking problem should consult with a physician first. For most, stopping smoking will involve some degree of tough sledding. One must be highly motivated to go through the withdrawal and "detoxifying syndrome" and also be able to resist frequent temptations to smoke that will come from many quarters. Here then are some vital keys to conquering the smoking habit: Clearly define and write down your objectives for not smoking (health, family, financial, spiritual, etc.). Keep your eyes on your goal; never let it disappear or get hazy. Try to look beyond the initial difficult days or weeks to the time you will happily be unshackled from tobacco addiction. Stop all smoking completely but don't expect an easy time of it. Tapering off usually does not work for most people simply because the nicotine-tolerance level a person develops cries out to be fully satisfied. The 1979 surgeon general's report says, "Partial abstinence from smoking leads to more, rather than less, discomfort in withdrawal." Tapering off produces a prolonged state of withdrawal, causing many to give up and relapse to smoking. Throw away all cigarettes (or cigars or pipes). Don't carry them around: "... make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof' (Romans 13:14). Avoid compromising situations. Don't let friends, relatives or stressful situations cause you to compromise and give in, "just once." You'll be hooked again. It might be best to avoid smoked-filled social occasions during your withdrawal period. Keep busy with other things and activities. Seek support from someone who shares your goals. Don't be discouraged or fearful of failure. If you happen to slip, don't give up. It may take several weeks to break the back of the cigarette craving (although one must expect periodic temptations for a much longer period of time). It takes several days for the body to rid itself of most cigarette poisons, and it usually takes from six months to a year for a person who has not smoked too many years to regain clean, healthy lungs. Give your body a chance to heal. Seek additional information and suggestions from health agencies or clinics. Not everyone responds exactly the same to various aids, activities or gimmicks. Ideas that have worked for others may or may not help you. (For instance, drinking lots of fruit juices or chewing gum helps some, but not others.) The major key, however, is strong motivation.
Tap Unlimited Spiritual Help
Many individuals have quit smoking, on their own power, for purely physical reasons such as health, finances or the love of one's family. However, the greatest motivation of all for overcoming any problem or sin is coming to understand and striving to fulfill the awesome purpose of life for which God put you on the earth. The Plain Truth is dedicated to showing how that purpose relates to every activity in life. That awesome purpose is developing Godlike character with God's help developing the very mind, outlook and thinking of God and Christ so one can eventually be born into God's own family. Many articles in The Plain Truth deal with this subject. We also offer many booklets arid reprint articles (such as the booklet Why Were You Born?) sent free of charge. God's Word the Bible also reveals powerful spiritual weapons that a true Christian can utilize to overcome smoking or other equally addictive habits. The first is: Humble yourself before God and pray about your problem. God is concerned and respects those who fear Him (Psalms 103:11-14). He will help those who repent of their sins and turn to Him (Isaiah 55:7-8). Ask God for the additional help and strength to overcome, so you can glorify Him and His purpose for you in life. "... Work out your salvation [for deliverance] with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13). Here are some other Bible principles or promises to keep in mind in overcoming the smoking habit. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof' (Romans 6:12). "... For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (II Peter 2:19). "... Be not conformed to this world [age or system of things], but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind... " (Romans 12:2). "... Put off concerning the former conversation [conduct] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24). "... Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.... Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Hebrews 12:1, 4). "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). The apostle Peter said the Christian "no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries. Wherein they [the unconverted] think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:2-4). But what to do when we make mistakes? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). God understands when we fall, but expects us to get up and go on. The Bible is literally loaded with scriptures to motivate, inspire and encourage a Christian to overcome all kinds of sins. Smoking is but one sinful addiction to which humans can fall prey. As in overcoming any other evil, an individual must do everything he or she can to conquer it, but God gives additional help to anyone who earnestly seeks Him (James 5:16-18)
There are both physical and spiritual reasons to avoid or overcome the growing worldwide problem of nicotine or smoking addiction. Think again of the many benefits of avoiding or quitting smoking. You will have better health. You will enjoy good food more; fresh air will be better. You will be a better person to be around and love. You will also gain more self-esteem. Overcoming an enslaving habit is a great stepping-stone to conquering other problems in life. In the final analysis, God is the Author and Giver of life. We hope you have the courage to change your life, to buck the crowd, to see through the illusive advertising and "glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" NOT YOURS!