A Microcosm of the Smoking Debate

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Theophany, Jan 24, 2009.

  1. Theophany macrumors 6502

    Theophany

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    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    NW London.
    #1
    Three months ago I gave up smoking for my girlfriend.

    I come from a family where most people smoke. I too smoke. Smoking is no big thing in our family, nor in our extended family, it's just seen as something that most of us do. Naturally, we have an astonishingly high cancer mortality rate in our family, but that is beside the point and not really part of my discussion here. In short, I had been smoking for five years up until the point when I gave up. I love smoking, it's really that simple for me.

    My girlfriend's parents used to smoke, but gave up some years ago before she was born. They have always indoctrinated her and her siblings with the value that smoking is bad, it's addictive and should not be started. The same things that any well-meaning parent tells their children to educate them, more than to over-protect them. She hates smoking with a passion.

    So I, very reluctantly, made the effort to give up for her. I first used a form of NRT - 'fake' cigarettes. Basically you 'smoke' these plastic cigarettes with an ioniser in them that turns the nicotine cartridges into steam instead of smoke. The system is that you can gradually lower your nicotine dose by removing all the tar and harmful chemicals from the act of 'smoking' whilst not having to replace having something to do with your hands.

    Within a fortnight I'd given up on the NRT and gone cold-turkey. In the three months that followed I battled my addiction for the first month, but didn't once smoke a cigarette. I'm not claiming it's some great achievement, because in fairness I have only been smoking for five years. After the first month or so, the addiction faded and I didn't once feel the need to smoke as I had previously. It became easy.

    What became increasingly difficult was fighting off my desire (not addiction) to smoke. Not a day went by when I didn't think of how much I enjoyed smoking as a pastime of sorts. Eventually, I asked my girlfriend if I could smoke again, not to the extent of two cartons a day as I once had, but maybe one or two a day for the pleasure of it. She, very begrudgingly agreed, saying that it was my life and she didn't want me to give up something I liked doing because she didn't want me to come to resent her for being the controlling type.

    So now I'm smoking again and she shamelessly guilt trips me about it, I knew she would do this and it's not much more than playful, in fairness, but I can't help but feel I'm the bad guy in all of this. I certainly don't want to end our relationship because we're so close. We have great fun and enjoy each others' company very much. I just wandered what the MR community's opinion was on the matter. I'm torn between doing something I have done and loved for years and making her happy. To me this isn't one of those compromise situations between couples, it's a matter of changing or not.

    All I ask, if anybody does reply, is that they don't give me a health lecture without any actual personal response. I'm fully aware of smoking's harmful effects, I'm a well-adjusted individual and I make my own choices based on my own desires.

    Thanks in advance for any input. :)
     
  2. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    #2
    I have been smoking for over 10 years. My wife does not smoke, never has. Is she concerned about my health, yes. Would she like me to quit, yes. But she knows that it has to be my choice and something that I want to do. You're right, it is not a compromise, but if she loves you for who you are she will not try to change you to her image.

    The compromise comes with not smoking around her, or going outside to smoke, not doing it the house. The usual being considerate of her not wanting to be around smoking. It is your life and something that you want to do and you should not be made to feel some sort of guilt because you are not turning into what she wants you to be.
     
  3. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    #3
    Sorry to be the one to say that, but smoking is an addiction, psychological and physiological.

    I smoke too, even when it hurts my throat.

    I began smoking when I stopped consuming THC, to which I was/am addicted too, and only once since then did I stop smoking for 17 days.

    You just have to disconnect the cigarette smoking with feeling good and passing the time.

    I mean you already did stop smoking successfully, why throw it away.

    Why there aren't therapies or support groups for this filthy addiction still bugs me.
     
  4. mcnicks macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    #4
    I like nailing my hands to tables, chairs and other wooden furniture. I used to do it all the time even though I lost a lot of blood and picked up infections, and I knew it would kill me in the end. My girlfiend doesn't nail her hands to furniture because her parents taught her that it was wrong so I gave up my nailing habit for her. More recently I realised that I missed it. Any time I was out with friends I felt awkward, like I need to do something with my hands, so I asked her if I could start again just once or twice a day. Now that I have started again, she is constantly making me feel guilty about it in a joking way. It would make her happy if I stopped but I like nailing my hand to things. What do you think I should do?

    Seriously, I gave up smoking four years ago and I still miss it. Having a drink without one still feels a bit weird. But, really, its a no-brainer: if you have the willpower to give up smoking you should do it, not for your girlfriend but for yourself. Good luck.
     
  5. Lava Lamp Freak macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2006
    #5
    I don't smoke but my dad and my sister do. Both have quit numerous times just to start back again. My dad is currently stopped due to health reasons, but I suspect he'll eventually start back again.

    My sister won't date anyone who doesn't smoke, and I won't date anyone who does. I've seen the difficulties between my mom and dad being that he drank and smoke when they got married and she didn't. He quit drinking cold turkey about 12 years ago and never drank again, but he occasionally mentions that he would really like to enjoy a drink while watching a game, etc.. Even thought they've stayed together for 30 years, it has been a constant source of stress between them.

    Giving up smoking for someone else probably won't make either of you happy, and if you continue doing it the relationship can be stressed. It's hard to say what the result of your particular situation will be in the end, but judging from what you have said, the strength of your relationship will be tested if she feels that strongly about smoking and you continue doing it. I'm not qualified to give relationship advise, but personally I don't think the guilt trip is right. I've seen the same thing with my parents and feel bad for my dad because of it. Everyone has the right to make their own choices, and shouldn't feel guilt for not being what someone else expects of them. However, if someone feels guilty because he wants to quit for himself and can't, then that is something that needs to be treated by a professional.
     
  6. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #6
    If she's letting you smoke, even a couple, she's also changing her habits and preferences because she must love you. So you're both compromising already.

    You are giving up smoking more and the pleasure it gives you.
    She's putting up with the smell and taste of you post-smoke and let's be honest, to a non-smoker, that's foul for at least 30 minutes or so.

    You either both think the relationship is worth compromising your ideals for or you both have doubts and end it. So far as the guilt trip goes - she's possibly not comfortable with the compromise.
     
  7. Rt&Dzine, Jan 24, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

    Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    Oct 8, 2008
    #7
    Don't beat yourself up. I tried several times before I really quit. When I did finally quit, it took several years before the desire went away.
     
  8. stomer macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 2, 2007
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    Leeds, UK
    #8
    If your girlfriend is anything like me then she'll find the smell disgusting. If my wife ever started then it could quite possibly end our relationship.
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #9

    I have no idea by what you meant above. Sounds like you were addicted the entire time, and both your will-power, and your desire to quit for her, wasn't strong enough for you to actually follow through. You kind of quit, but failed in the last mile. You thought you were over it, but clearly you weren't.


    Anyway, AS is right. At least you've come to a compromise of sorts. You said you only smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes a day now, right? Sure, you'll still stink of cigarettes, and kissing your mouth will always be a less than perfect experience, but it's the compromise that works for you two. :) (well, it works for now, anyway)
     
  10. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    Jan 18, 2005
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    #10
    You love smoking.
    She hates smoking.

    Chances are she won't suddenly start to like smoke so it entirely falls on you to give up once and for all. Don't like an addiction ruin your relationship.
    It's entirely possible to give up; the only 2 smokers in my friends and family gave up. It took months yea and they both went on some kind of GP issued tablet to keep the addiction at bay.
     
  11. scanlanlee macrumors member

    scanlanlee

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    Aug 18, 2006
    Location:
    Ireland
    #11
    I read this and realised that my own story might be useful; I too gave up smoking for my girlfriend and stopped for a couple of years - starting again because again like you i actually enjoyed smoking, the flavour, taste etc.
    What I did do was make a decision that i would stop when i had a good enough reason too, that being when my girlfriend (now wife) became pregnant. Then i choose a date that I could relate too (happened to be my birthday) and stopped, that was 7 years ago.
    I believe that you never truly stop being a smoker - you just don't have the smokes that go with it ;)

    When you find your 'reason' you will quit and it sounds like that is what your girlfriend believes as well.
    Enjoy them whilst you can and stop when the time is right.

    They say smoking is a dying habit - or is that just the smokers:D
     
  12. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    I was in a very similar situation with my girlfriend last year, though she's never been a continuous smoker she just liked smoking when offered and buying a pack when we went to raves.

    I've watched my mother died slowly and painfully of cancer, it was not a pretty sight and while I tried to quell the emotional effect her smoking had on me I just couldn't take it anymore. Despite how incredibly close we were it bothered me to the point that I would have rather lost the love of my life than chance seeing her die like that and then be left alone later in life. I even tried smoking myself for a short period and while I enjoyed it I just couldn't bring myself to make myself reek like that for such short high, I personally find it incredibly difficult to relax so don't get me wrong the effects are blissful it's just not worth it in my eye.

    I came clean to her about all this and she hasn't smoked cigarette since, as a result we've grown far closer to the point that we consider ourselves as good as married.

    As applespider mentioned it's an incredibly selfish habit as if you smoke you absolutely REEK of it, it sticks to everything nearby you and is simply vile. Fair enough you like smoking but if you really love this girl why the hell should something you merely enjoy doing come above her emotional wellbeing? if you truly do love cigarettes more than you care about her feelings do her a favour and leave her so she can find someone who'll make her happy.

    Do you really want to put her through the trauma of looking after you when the habit starts to seriously impact your health? Do you really want to leave her on her own in her old age?

    I'm sorry if this seems harsh, this is just a situation that's really messed with my head in the past, the depression was horrific but I just did my best to hide it as I didn't want to tell the one I loved how to live her life.
     
  13. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    Phoenix, AZ
    #13
    So basically the moral of some of the posters here is that you should give up the things you like for someone's emotional well being. Sorry, but that just doesn't work in my book. If the person truly loves you and wants to be with you then there is compromise that can happen to be able to still smoke if that's what you choose to do.

    There will always be something that the other person does not like, are you just supposed to continue to give things up to make that other person happy? Individuality is still allowed even in a relationship. And as to stomer's post about if his wife started to smoke that the relationship would probably end, you have far worse problems going on in the relationship right now.
     
  14. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #14
    smoking is not just going to have an effect on your SO's emotional well-being but their physical well-being as well. i quit smoking a month ago. and *i* feel better physically now than i did a month ago.

    my girlfriend is proud of me, but she also would have understood if i had not been able to do it so easily. its not an easy addiction to break, and it not only impacts your health, theirs as well (especially depending on your smoking habits, etc) but also leads to even more worry about your health on their behalf, if they truly care.

    now to the OP, you've come to a compromise, but it seems that you never quit smoking in the first place. its something that you have to want to do for yourself, and no one else's opinions will make or help you move past your addiction until that happens.
     
  15. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    #15
    Thanks for telling me about smoking, if you had bothered to read up and look at my original post you would see that I am smoker as well. I'm proud of you that you were able to quit smoking, one of these days I will quit (or at least try) but I have to want to and right now I don't want to.

    And you are right, the costs of smoking do effect everyone around you, however, it is still your life to live and your wants, to give that up for someone else and compromise certain things you want in life is not helpful to any relationship and it will build up resentment.

    EDIT*** if I mis-interpreted your post, than I apologize.
     
  16. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #16
    i'm certainly not disagreeing with you. just wanted to point out that it has more effects than just someone else's emotional well being. and it is certainly your choice to do what you want with your life.

    almost every aspect of relationships are built around compromise. its being able to communicate and work together towards the benefit of both that can make them work. hopefully for the OP there will be no resentment on either side as they can be open-minded about the issue: she should be willing to understand that this is something he needs/wants right now in his life and he should respect her boundaries and not infringe upon them (ie no smoking in her place etc)
     
  17. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #17
    While I generally agree with you, a part of you has to realize that some things have a binary, "yes" or "no" solution, while some things have different degrees of compromises that are OK solutions.

    Unfortunately, smoking is an issue where you either smoke, or you don't. That's just my opinion. Smoking fewer cigarettes a day, or smoking less of each cigarette (do people do that?) are not acceptable solutions when it comes to smoking. It's not just bad for yourself, it also negatively affects my lifestyle.

    Between my girlfriend and I, there are some things about her that annoy me, and she has cut down on how often she does something, or has adjusted her habits so that they don't annoy me as much. However, she has stopped doing some things completely because there really is no such thing as "cutting down".

    For example, cutting down on drinking may be a solution with regards to drinking, but cutting down the number of times you drink drive isn't.
     
  18. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Chicago, Illinois
    #18
    Giving up smoking for someone else is giving it up for the wrong reason.
     
  19. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    #19
    Simple yet an effective point. Only wish I was smart enough to think of saying this... :(
     
  20. Xfujinon macrumors 6502

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    Jul 27, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa City, Iowa
    #20
    I used to counsel people about this stuff at the hospital. No one approach works for everyone. It takes finding the one "tipping point", wherein the choice between the pros and cons no longer equals out to keep smoking in your life. Not all of these are appealing to some people, and sometimes a combinatorial approach is the best. Here are some of the reasons we used to use, whether alone or in combination, to get people to consider and follow through with quitting smoking:

    1. Cost. Do the math, on paper, for one year. Write down a list of things you want to buy, frivelous things even, and see how many of them you could have had you not smoked. Or, add that amount every year into an interest rate formula for an IRA or mutual fund and see how much 10 years of smoking dollars becomes by retirement. That blew my mind. Personally, that made me quit.

    2. Look at quitting as an exercise in flexing your "man" muscles. Macho approaches can work for some people. Look at it as if it was a proving thing, a masculine thing, some kind of task to live up to. This has worked for a few cases.

    3. Consider hygiene, appearence, odor, teeth, etc. Honestly, the teeth turning brown effect turns off most teenagers.

    4. Think about freezing outside during the winter having to go smoke. This also strong dissuaded me.

    5. Make your cigarettes hard to get to. Put them inside a locked box, under a pile of heavy books, in the trunk of your car, parked out on the street. Attuning your brain to begin thinking of smoking as a big pain in the a$$ will work wonders for some people.

    6. Consider your life without your relationship. If smoking was the only thing you needed to toss to maintain that relationship, would you do it? As a thought exercise, it helps set priorities.

    7. It is old hat, and research says it doesn't dissuade smokers, but honestly, take a drinking straw and stick it in your mouth. Plug your nose. Breathe for 10 minutes. That is what having emphysema feels like until you die. It sucks.

    8. Every time you smoke, take five dollars of cash you would have used and put it in the bank. It takes pocket money away from you, and begins to make an association with cash and smoking as irritating. On the plus side, you save some cash.

    9. Realize that it is your life, and no one can really force you to do anything. Some people do things purely because they have not yet accepted that yes, they are in fact in charge, and no one is really trying to run their life. Finding out, in a Eureka moment that your entire life really depends solely on you, makes you more clairvoyant. You start reassessing your priorities. Most people have a mid-life crisis of the same character that is very similar. Truly uncouple yourself from your pretensions about the world and you will realize how small, insignificant, and simultaneously precious the time you have really is. Stop smoking, go fishing! Make dinner for your girlfriend. Take her to a movie. Tell her she is the best. Focus on what matters most beyond yourself.


    These might work, I dunno.


    Best of luck!
     
  21. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    Aug 24, 2003
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    UK
    #21
    I don't abuse intoxicants like I used to for the sake of my relationship, I feel far better for it. Why should smoking be any different? Hell at least my habits didn't make me smell/taste horrible.

    Why is a taste and a dopamine hit so important?

    Seeing her happy is more important to me than such trivial desires, she sees it the same way and we're mutually happier for it.

    I'm friends with a fair few who've smoked their entire life who are now in their late 30's early 40's, they have horrible teeth, they wheeze, they have shortness of breath constantly, their voices are rough, their eyes bloodshot and their faces are far more wrinkled making them look abnormally old for their age.
     
  22. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #22
    Sounds like you're still using intoxicants though, Mord- just not as much. Why should smoking be any different? Why should the OP have to completely give something up for someone else? Why not compromise?
     
  23. Theophany thread starter macrumors 6502

    Theophany

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    Nov 16, 2008
    Location:
    NW London.
    #23
    Wow, I didn't expect this kind of a response, awesome guys and gals. :)

    I have tried in the past to explain the attraction to smoking to my girlfriend when she has asked why I do it and I'm guessing from a couple of responses here, there are a few non-smokers giving me their thoughts too. It would be wise to be completely clear here, there is a big difference between addiction and desire and whilst they are difficult to separate whilst you are smoking, it becomes much clearer when you stop for a while.

    I enjoy the habit. I enjoy the taste, I enjoy the smell of smoke, I enjoy the social activity of smoking - for example, when my flatmates and I have a night in with a few drinks until the early hours of the morning, we all enjoy smoking together. Even though there is a social stigma to smoking to the most of the (i.e. non-smoking) world, smoking is still a social activity - even if it's a segregated social activity now.

    From the discussions I've had with my girlfriend on the matter it's quite clear to me that smoking is not something that can be fully understood unless you have been addicted to a substance before and can thus relate. It's all too easy for people who have never been addicted to a substance to say that there is no difference between addiction and desire, but regardless of this, it's been very interesting to see the kind of opinions people have on the issue. It's been thought-provoking for me and I can see both sides of the argument for their qualities.

    Personally, I tend to agree with the comment that 'giving up for somebody else is the wrong idea,' not from a moral standpoint, but because it just won't work for me. I need to want to quit, and at this point in my life I don't. Maybe when I have something more solid and stable in my life, something that means I don't have to ask whether or not I should give up - i.e. scanlanlee's argument.
     
  24. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #24
    You hit the nail on the head.
     
  25. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #25
    Mord- I'm 41 (almost 42), and you've seen my pics. ;) I'd say I'm far from what you've described. There are far more factors involved in the aging process and fitness.
     

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