As many smokers will easily recall, the social pressure to smoke began in their teens when peer pressure was so easy to bow to. At that time their circle of friends was generally quite limited and usually that circle was restricted to school or college friends.

Often whoever aspired to be the leader in a group of teenage non-smokers, took up smoking as a demonstration that they were into “risky behaviours”.

Others, not wishing to be left out, started smoking too.


Social pressures / influence continued…

Fast forward to the start of those young people’s working life in an era when smoking was far more commonplace than it is today.

Smoking was usually permitted in the workplace and if it wasn’t, then tea and lunch breaks, were the usual times when smokers sought each other’s company and exchanged all kinds of news.

Of course social pressure was high because one risked being out of touch with workplace gossip unless one made an appearance.

In more recent years awareness of the dangers to health caused by smoking are almost universal and have resulted in an outright ban on smoking in the workplace and public buildings in many countries.

Smokers often say that those times when they most enjoy a cigarette are at the end of meal, or while enjoying an alcoholic drink, and when taking a short “stress break”.

As a matter of fact, smoking doesn’t reduce stress, it actually increases it. (It’s known as the nicotine trick).

Very frequently smokers admit to smoking most heavily on social occasions.

Social pressures / influences that thwart intentions to quit smoking

If you are a smoker and intend to quit, the peer pressure and social influence could take any of the following forms:

– Jealousy / envy of others because you are looking forward to improved health / finances, etc while they feel unable to follow you.

– Fear by one or two friends that they are about to “lose you” if you are no longer in their smoking group.

– Fear on your part that you will lose friends when you are no longer in the smoking group.

In fact it’s quite likely that most of the pressure is self-imposed and you can free yourself from this and be successful in your intentions.

social pressure to smoke_2

How to block the social pressures of the past

It isn’t as difficult to become a non-smoker as you might have been led to believe, especially by colleagues – or by yourself.

Start by asking yourself the following questions

(Make a note of your answers)

1) Why do you want to stop, is it for health or because of the cost, or for other reasons?

2) How seriously do you want to quit? Write your answer as a percentage 50% / 80% / 100%.

3) How specifically is peer pressure affecting your ability to quit smoking?

How to block out social influences & pressures

1) Get really comfortable with speaking your own five second “Commercial”. For example: “I’m going to stop smoking because I really value my health”. Or: “I’m going to stop smoking so I can enjoy spending the money on holidays”. Whatever your reason, rehearse your commercial until the words roll easily off your tongue.

2) Begin to change the locations where you smoke so that you miss out some of the usual group smoking sessions.

3) Any time you’re asked by smoking colleagues why you didn’t join them for a smoke; comfortably and confidently recite your five-minute commercial. No other explanation is necessary.

4) Quickly reduce the number of occasions that you join the group to smoke.

You are now ready to start adopting some of the various tricks that will lead you to become less and less dependent on cigarettes.

Delay having a smoke / smoke less and less of a cigarette and throw it away etc. Read the very successful book Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. Or if you need help, contact a reputable Hypnotherapist with expertise in this area.

I will be very happy to assist you to quit the smoking habit in one session – Connect with Robin How here on WatchFit

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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