I wanted to share one of the best “smoking quizzes” that I have found, and used frequently when I did smoking cessation consultations with individuals who were interested and motivated to quit.
With no other name than the empirically-titled, “Why I Smoke Test”, the questions and answers help individuals pinpoint the reason(s) behind their smoking behavior, whether they smoke for stimulation, relaxation and/or pleasure; if they are smoking out of habit, “handling” or craving, or a combination of some (or all) of these.
I’ll explain each category, and then you can determine which of these categories (one, some or all) may apply to you, on a scale of:
1=never; 2=seldom; 3=occasionally; 4=frequently; 5=always. Figuring out they “why” behind your smoking behavior is an important step in determining why you smoke (duh!)…which then leads to what your potential triggers may be, and finally, what combination of proven quit method(s) would be most beneficial to you.
(Please note: The “reason categories” below are not mutually exclusive, meaning, you may smoke because it helps you relax at certain times, and you may also smoke because it helps provide stimulation at other times; you can choose both categories).
Some individuals prefer the stimulating effects of nicotine (as opposed to the relaxing effects of nicotine). You may smoke to keep yourself from slowing down or to “perk up” and give yourself “a lift”. (Similar to why people drink coffee, soda or other caffeinated beverages).
There is a ritual to smoking: everything from lighting the cigarette, walking out on the back deck and watching the smoke swirl around you, to the feel of the cigarette in your mouth and hands. Handling the cigarette is one of the most enjoyable parts to smoking for some individuals, and they may have lots of fun paraphernalia. (Have you seen all the novelty lighters out there?! They are for all of the handlers!)
Smoking cigarettes is extremely pleasurable for smokers, and they feel good and content when smoking. If you smoke for pleasure, you may be actively seeking the pleasure of smoking, or it may be more subtle: you find yourself smoking when you are most comfortable and relaxed.
Different from “pleasure” is relaxation, where you most want to smoke when you are uncomfortable, upset or need to take your mind off of something that is bothering you. Smoking helps make you feel relaxed, calm, peaceful; it may be the one time you have to be alone, in perfect quiet; almost a way to meditate and help your worries subside.
If you physically or psychologically crave a cigarette, you may feel that being out of cigarettes is unbearable; you have cravings if you haven’t been able to smoke for a while, and most importantly: you are very aware when you are not smoking.
Habitually smoking is different from craving a cigarette; the best way I can explain it:
Craving = being AWARE you are NOT smoking.
Habit = being UNaware you ARE smoking.
If you find yourself smoking, and don’t remember exactly how the cigarette got in your mouth, if you automatically smoke without being aware of lighting up, or if you are smoking and forgot that you left your other cigarette burning in the ashtray, then you may be smoking out of “habit”. You may be smoking automatically when drinking, talking to a friend, sitting on back porch, driving in your car…any of your normal daily routines.
If you are interested in quitting smoking, review each of your reasons for smoking from above, and think about how you can find a replacement for that reason (ie, is there another way to feel stimulated, relaxed or pleasure?). I will be writing more on tips to quit, and will discuss what the research says are the best ways to quit smoking in the next few weeks! For more information on the web, visit: www.cancer.org (American Cancer Society). Online version of this test can be found at: http://www.nysmokefree.com/newweb/smoketest.aspx?p=201030