Want to quit smoking? Study says drop friends

Study conducted by researchers finds people smoke more when they are with ‘smoker’ friends

Published: 12th March 2017 05:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2017 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: It is established now. It is the circle of friends or co-workers that weakens one who wants to quit or cut down on tobacco consumption. Want to quit smoking, better leave the friends out.

A study conducted by two researchers from School of Public Health, University of Maryland, across two cities in India, Hyderabad and Kolkata, found that people consume tobacco more frequently when they are with their ‘smoker’ friends or co-workers.

The study finds that tobacco usage was more frequent (71 per cent), among their study sample, when the tobacco users were with their friends or co-workers. However, the frequency decreased when they were alone (46.4 per cent) and it decreases further when they are with family (40 per cent).

Need to implement ban on smoking effectively
The study also found that people are prone to tobacco consumption when their visual or olfactory senses are stimulated, that is, when they see someone consuming tobacco or when they smell tobacco being consumed by others.

The study reported that as per per laboratory studies, visual and olfactory stimuli can increase cardiovascular activation, including blood pressure and heart rate, and directly prompt tobacco use.

This puts onus on the government to ensure strict implementation of the ban on public smoking. While the government is taking initiatives like playing the well known short films against tobacco usage in cinema halls and television, there exists a serious lack of effort when it comes to implementation of ban on public smoking. The study by Dina LG Borzekowski and Julia Cen Chen of University of Maryland, reports,

“This study found that participants frequently encountered others who were using tobacco as well as visual and olfactory cues. As these might be strong risk factors for personal tobacco use, there should be attempts to lessen public use. Better enforcement of restrictions and bans on tobacco advertising and promotion are needed.”

Will power the only way ahead
Dr Prasanna Kumar Reddy, Consultant Pulmonologist says, “One can visit a pulmonologist at any stage of tobacco addiction. There are medications which block nicotine receptors and can help quitting smoking. The course duration is generally of two months. However, without will power the medication will not prove of any use.” 

Dr Diana Monteiro, Counselling Psychologist, says, “The brain creates memory pathways with social and environmental cues like being with friends who smoke or looking at someone consuming tobacco and associates it with deriving pleasure. One needs to ‘rewire’ the brain by making their own rewards system like associating cutting down on smoking to being able to climb stairs without panting and feeling exhausted. It is very difficult to recreate these pathways. While psychological or psychiatric counselling will help, will power to quit plays the main role.”

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