by Dr. John Uebersax

The Work Being



Derived from Cognitive Psychology, Ancient Wisdom, and Common Sense


This work is written in good humor about a serious subject.

The list below is a grab bag. Some points are ironic and provocative, others more light.

They are aimed at a variety of people. Out of these 100-odd reasons, if only one applies to you, then that's sufficient.


Health is wealth. It is the only wealth (ask a sick rich person). Smoking harms your health, removing or risking the most valuable thing you have.

You are being pushed around, your life controlled, (if not ruined), by a nicotine molecule!

It dries your skin and makes you look old before your time. A twenty-year old woman looks 30. A thirty-year old woman looks 40.

Brown teeth and fingers.

Lung cancer

Markedly increased risk of heart disease

Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals besides tobacco.

Makes you more susceptible to colds, flu, and bronchitis -- and therefore also more likely to give a cold or flu to others.

Because either you will quit someday, or it will kill you (hopefully the former). But if you're going to quit anyway, the sooner the better.

One for Belgian and French smokers: Jacques Brel, 1929 - 1978. Age at death: 49. Cause of death: cigarettes.


Are you an educated, professional person? A teacher, scientist, executive, or official? And you smoke!? Don't underestimate the power of your example.

If you smoke around children then you do more than set the bad example of smoking. Children may also acquire: (a) the belief that problems cannot be faced or solved, and (b) that adults are not supposed, expected, or able to consider others' needs.

On a windy day, your cigarette can ruin the air for 50 people downwind. You might as well exhale in each one's face.

For each person who complains to you, 20 more find it unpleasant but are too timid to say anything.

If you didn't smoke, you'd understand how noxious cigarette smoke is.

You hurt other people by smoking in public. Your smoke irritates other peoples' sinuses, nasal passages, bronchia, and eyes. Most of these people are just trying to get through aother day, and your smoke isn't helping.

Because during the actual act of smoking you're slacking. You're not doing anything to make the world a better place.


For a woman, smoking is not ladylike; it denies and offends the loveliness of a woman.

For a man, it is not gallant, noble, and doesn't show strength of character.

Put simpley, a woman should quit for the sake of love; a man should quit for the sake or courage (but anyone may do either).

Beauty is real. Beauty is transcendent -- a reminder of the source of all goodness, God.

Life, by its very nature, is beautiful. But you have to pay attention to see it. You must 'tune in' to it. When you smoke, you're on a different channel. The opposite channel, in fact.

Are you an artist by trade? Is the creation or representation of Beauty your aim? But smoking offends Beauty. So how can one claim to be dedicated to Art, yet smoke?

Intropunitiveness (Self-punishment)

Smoking is self-punishment. You don't need to punish yourself. Nobody wants you too.

Smoking manifests latent self-destructive urges. These are not urges you've created yourself. They've have been planted in your mind by various sources -- seeds of self-doubt and self-criticism that grow into self-destructive actions.

Further, first you punish yourself by smoking. Then you punish yourself for smoking.


A happy person doesn't smoke.

Children don't smoke. They don't want to smoke. They want to have fun. Smoking is not fun. You can't have fun and smoke at the same time.

Smoking mentality = loser mentality.

Your enemies delight in seeing you hurt yourself.

Because God doesn't want you to smoke.

If you're smoking, you don't have your act together. Therefore instead of smoking, you should be doing something constructive to get your act together.

W hen you smoke, you deviate from the true course of your life, which involves productivity and activity.

You deserve better than what smoking gives you.

Smoking puts you in a mental fog.

When you are about to smoke think as follows: "I am in a negative frame of mind; in this state I am unable to evaluate things correctly." Then, rather than rely on impulse, choose to do or think something you know is constructive.

Success in life depends on your being able to think clearly and consistently, free from wandering thoughts. If you are honest, you will see that most of your problems relate in one way or another to the problem of mental distraction.

Learn to examine and moderate your thoughts. Discern the good, productive, loving, and happy ones from the bad, unproductive, hateful, and unhappy ones.

In cold and bad weather, smoking just makes you feel worse. In good weather, it's enough to enjoy the weather.

Some people smoke cigarettes and drink coffee at the same time. How foolish is that? You can't possibly enjoy both at the same time. Enjoy your coffee and see how it makes you feel. Then, after, decide whether or not you need or want a cigarette.

The same obviously goes for drinking alcohol and smoking.

Smoking traps you in poverty.

Virtues are real things, not mere abstract ideals. Your soul is virtuous by nature. Virtuous behavior is true and beautiful. Smoking is the opposite of virtue. It works against virtue and virtues. Contrarily, to stop smoking is virtuous. One virtue leads to another.

"All you need is love." Smoking is not love.

Objection: But I smoke very little now. Iím not addicted. It is not a big problem. Therefore there is no hurry to quit.

Reply: Better to quit now while the habit is not so strong. If you wish to quit someday, why not quit when itís easy?

"Doctor, doctor, can you please tell me what my problem is? I feel so bad all the time. Everything in life seems to be working against me!"

"Well, do you have any idea what the problem might be? Is there something in particular out of the ordinary going on?"

"Not at all. Aside for the fact that I continually hit myself on the head with this hammer, everything I do is completely normal."

Smoking makes you feel crummy.

People who smoke to look cool look foolish.

You continue because you fear stopping will make you feel bad. But smoking makes you feel much worse.

If it's a little hard to quit, it's much harder to continue.

Because life is difficult and the difficulties tend to be evenly matched to your abilities. It's a delicate balance, slightly biased to the positive, so that you overcome adversity, growing in the process, little by little. But if you smoke, you throw the whole thing wildly out of balance in favor of the negative.

In short, if you don't smoke, you can expect to win in life through a combination of patience, perseverance, hard work, and personal virtue. But if you smoke, you turning the odds against yourself.

Smoking makes you your own worst enemy. People like to complain about how they're oppressed: by the government, by George Bush, by their job, by the system, by the rich, by the poor, by the immigrants, by the elite. But the truth is that nothing hurts you more than smoking. And while you might have little control over these other factors, you have complete control over your smoking.

There's always something better to do than smoke a cigarette. Read a book. Have a conversation. If you have time to waste you must be a very fortunate person indeed; most other people don't have nearly enough time to do what's necessary. Apparently you have time to loaf around and tune out.

Because when you smoke you're a tobacco zombie.

Because whatever you want in life -- happiness, success, financial security, friendship, romance, love -- smoking takes you further away from these, not closer.

If you're smoking, you're losing, not gaining ground in the contest of life.

Because it isn't as hard to quit as people say. The belief that it's very painful is more myth than fact, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do you know who says it's hard? People who are still smoking and are making excuses. Ask someone who's quit. They won't make it sound so hard. Many will say, "When I decided to quit, I just stopped."

All things considered, it's much harder to keep smoking than to quit. If you added up all the benefits, pleasure, gains, etc. of smoking vs. not smoking, the balance would always favor not smoking. This is true even if you stopped immediately. Even while you might feel irritable for a day or two, your body would nonetheless heave a big sigh of relief, saying "Thank you!" Once you stop punishing your body you'll start feeling better immediately.


Conscience is not the feeling of guilt you have when you've done something wrong. It is not the superego of Freud's mechanistic model. True conscience is something subtler -- a form of higher awareness. It belongs to a category of mental knowledge that is different from and above rational discursive thought.

Conscience is a subtle perception or feeling you have when you are about to do something. It's the knowing that something is right or wrong, good or bad for you. It cannot be rationally defined or justified, or explained in words.

You must take the initiative to consult it, however; it does not shout or force.

If you would consult your true conscience, you would see that you do not want to smoke, and that you know it is wrong.

A characteristic of conscience is that the more you defy it, the dimmer its voice becomes. If you oppose your conscience by smoking, then, lacking its guidance, you are more likely to fall into other errors.

Without the conscience, you founder in false reasoning. You start following the wrong lines of thought , looking at the wrong kinds of things, making the wrong kind of plans, relating to the wrong people, ignoring the right people, and, generally, relating to people in the wrong ways.


You'll also feel better psychologically as soon as you make up your mind once and for all to quit.

Smoking severely reduces respiratory efficiency. Even when not smoking, blood and brain oxygenation is decreased. If you're not getting enough oxygen to your brain, you're live in a state of impaired consciousness, half-asleep, a stupor.

Make your decision to smoke each cigarette a conscious one.

A little "paradoxical psychology": The next time you smoke, try too really enjoy it. Set some time aside to relax. Don't do anything but enjoy the taste, smell, and sensations of the smoking. Even make it like a ritual. Continue this practice. Do this -- pay attention to the smoking -- and you may find you smoke less.

Also, if you smoke this way, you'll be less likely to smoke unconsciously and automatically as a reflex habit.

Finally, as you learn to pay more attention to your sensations, you may soon discover that it feels much better to not smoke.

If you're not ready to quit completely, go on a smoking fast: stop smoking for a month. If necessary, on Saturday or Sunday, let yourself smoke.

You smoke because you have problems. But in smoking you cultivate the mentality that causes your problems.

Did you try to stop before without success? Don't give up so easily. Maybe you weren't clever enough.

The world's simplest schedule for losing the habit: each week cut back 10%.

Another trick for quitting: decide to quit for 5 days only. After that, you can resume your usual habits. It should be easy.

1. The first day: You'll hardly notice it. Keep busy.

2. The second day: If the urge hits, start telling yourself, "I've only got to make it until the end of the week."

3. The third day: Tell yourself, "this is 'hump day'; if I make it to the end of today, I'll be half-way."

4. The fourth day: It's like Thursday in a work- or school-week: almost 'Friday' which will be easy.

5. The fifth day: The 'Friday' of your week -- a breeze, because you can already start looking forward to smoking tomorrow.

With these common tricks you can easily make it through five days. And that will be enough to notice the beneficial effects.

Smoking is neither self-actualized nor self- actualizing behavior.

You smoke because you are depressed, but later the physiological effects of the tobacco make you depressed.

You smoke because you worry and fret about the future; but smoking makes you miss today's opportunities.

If you could see your true feelings, attitudes, preferences, and beliefs, you would not smoke. It is not the real you that wants to smoke; it is a False Self (see Winnicott, 1960). Everybody has a False Self. It's a basic problem with human psychology.

The False Self is constructed of false beliefs about who we are. Just as we are wrong in many of our opinions about the world, so too we are very fallible when it comes to opinions about ourselves. Our False Self is built on these fallible and wrong opinions.

Human beings feel a great need to act consistently. Therefore, once we acquire false opinions about ourselves, we feel compelled to act on them.

When you smoke, you fall into an identification with your False Self; you are making it stronger, more entrenched. Your True Self is becoming more distant.

We're not talking about remote, abstract, or esoteric concepts here. The distinction between the True and False Self is already quite familiar to you. If somebody says, I need time to "find myself'", everybody knows what that person means. That is the True Self Iím talking about here: the one people find when they make some time to seek or reconnect to it. And that True Self becomes more distant from you when you smoke.

The False Self runs things when you do only what you think you should be doing. Your True Self runs things when you do what you know you should be doing. Following your False Self doesn't lead to happiness, because it's built on premises and beliefs about who you are (which themselves are often based on appetites and false desires), not on who you actually are.

It is a cognitive error to reason thus: I will quit eventually, but now is not the right time. All your justifications for not quitting now are specious. They are not motivated by true reasoning, but by a false reasoning driven by the addiction or unconscious motives.

Everything associated with smoking is self- deception. These are lies: (a) that you want to smoke; (b) that it makes you feel good; (c) that it is terribly difficult to stop.

Consider this possibility: that the wages of sin are precisely that you don't recognize the sin as sin, that it's harming you, and that it's not what you want.

At no time is smoking the reasonable or logical thing to do to. It's always the incorrect choice among the available options. Therefore, whenever you choose to smoke a cigarette, you it means either (1) you've acted by habit alone (i.e., you're spaced out), or you're not thinking logically. Therefore the mere fact of your smoking should alert you to evaluate and change your mental state.

Smoking is a bad habit -- and put emphasis on the word, 'habit'. It's like other habits -- things people do automatically, without realizing it. One of the keys to breaking a bad habit is to make the action something you notice consciously.

If you're going to smoke, don't just smoke and remain oblivious to what you're doing. Notice what your doing. Consciously say to yourself, "I'm smoking now." Making the activity conscious, you can bring your higher mental powers to bear on it. You can start to ask questions like:

"Am I really enjoying this?",
"Could I be doing something more relaxing, productive, and interesting now instead of smoking?", and
"What was the chain of thoughts that led up my decision to smoke, and is there some kind of pattern?"

One reason people may sometimes relax when smoking is because it forces them to take long, slow, controlled breaths. You can do the same thing without a cigarette, and it's much better.

If you examine your thoughts before smoking you will start to notice a pattern: immediately preceding your decision to smoke, your thinking turns negative. A person rarely, if ever, smokes after thinking something good. You don't say to yourself, "Wow! I really am enjoying life!" or "What a nice thing just happened!" and then light up a cigarette.

Rather your thoughts are more likely to be along the lines of "Life is bad" or "I am worried about money".

What you need to do is to catch yourself in act of descending into negative thinking. As you practice paying attention to this, you'll start to notice a specific point of decision. Then see if you can resist the "temptation" to think negatively.

You don't smoke because you like it. It's a neurotic habit with ulterior, unconscious, negative motivation.

You continue because you have constructed a social persona that involves smoking. You fear not being able to present yourself to others without it. This fear is unfounded. When you remove the smoking, your natural good qualities will surface automatically.

The philosopher Plato proposed a model of the human mind -- one much better than Freud's model. Plato's model, like Freud's, has three parts: the intellect, the appetites, and a third part, which has no simple modern name, but which is a combination of anger, boldness, heroism, ambition, and defiance. Plato called this part thumos. Used improperly, this third entity produces anger, hatred, and aggression. But it's correct function, Plato suggested, is to counter our appetitive nature.

Here what that means is simply this: take your natural tendency to anger and boldness, and turn it against your smoking. Get mad at it! That is what your innate capacity for anger exists for -- to use it to energetically oppose your own flaws. It is a most natural and effective way to improve yourself.

In fact, to give the complete model, Plato likened the mind to a charioteer driving a pair of winged horses, one black (the appetites) and one white (thumos). Ideally you (your rational ego) are the charioteer, use the power of both horses -- properly balanced and controlled -- to take your chariot to the heights of human existence (love, happiness, and wisdom). When you smoke cigarettes, things are disordered: the charioteer is asleep, the black horse is running wild, and the noble white horse is thrashing about aimlessly (or maybe so frustrated and angry he's kicking anybody who comes around).

You must regain control over your chariot. Re- assert your control . Pull the reigns hard and show the black horse who's boss. Use the power of the white horse to keep him in line.


There are many bad things in the world. Many or most of these things are, to a large extent, beyond your personal power to control. You cannot control the government; your behavior alone cannot stop wars or end injustice. But it is completely within your power to stop smoking.

You're designed to not smoke. When you smoke, you oppose your own nature.

If you smoke you don't have your act together. But stop, and you take a major step forward.

Virtue works like "compound interest". The more virtue you already have, the faster you improve.

Scenario A. Stop now.
Scenario B. Stop 5 years from now.
10 years from now, you would be a much better person under Scenario A.

There are many extremely and unfortunately sad and lonely people in the world; but while you're smoking you are doing nothing to help them.

If you want to see the world improve, start with yourself.

Every time you buy cigarettes, you send money to deceitful, corrupt, immoral American tobacco companies. With this money they find new and insidious ways to peddle their wares around the world and to corrupt society.

Are you 'green'? Smoking is not green. It is anti- green -- on a par with multinationalism, corporate greed, and environmental destruction. Smoke and you give energy to these things. Turn in your green membership card, because you're not in the club.

Do you expect other people to respect your rights? Then shouldn't you respect others' rights? Don't other people, non-smokers, have the right to sit in a park or walk down the street without suffering from your cigarette smoke?

When you smoke around other smokers, your smoking influences them not to quit.

Because if you have children, and you love them, how on earth can you let yourself set such a negative example?

If you stop smoking, you're setting a positive example, making the world a better place.

Because American tobacco companies are dumping their products around the world. Far fewer people smoke in America than in Europe. There have been restrictions against smoking for many years. To continue financially, American tobacco companies have targeted Europe and Asia. If you're smoking American cigarettes, you're contributing to a modern version of economic imperialism. That should make you angry enough to quit.


Stop smoking and you gain an instant and automatic social promotion.

Smoking is often associated with gregariousness. When smoking people are often quite open to striking up a conversation. But here is an irony: all conversation that goes on while smoking occurs in a negative context. It occurs in a kind of anti-reality which the fact of smoking, which is harmful, unnatural, unethical, and contrary to innate human virtue, necessarily produces. Therefore the content and products of such conversation will be tainted. The blind will lead the blind, and both will fall into a pit.

Smokers in a cafť make the place inhospitable to non-smokers.

Because the socio-political-economic system uses tobacco to exploit you and keep you oppressed.

The "system" likes to see you smoke:

a. Content with your 'opium', you accept the status quo and oppressive taxes.

b. You're too disorganized and addicted to challenge the system.

c. You're more likely to die young and therefore draw less social security.

Because if you smoke it means you don't respect yourself. If you don't respect yourself, then you aren't able to respect anyone else.

The performance of a network decreases exponentially as the integrity of each node diminishes. If 40% of people in society (smokers) are performing only at 50%-80% capacity due to smoking, the whole network fails.

For the teenagers: Because society has a nasty way of taking a certain proportion of people and assigning them to the "loser squad." And if you're smoking, you've been picked.

If you want to keep smoking, it's your choice. But don't fool yourself by saying, "I'm just a rebel." Your smoking is completely manipulated and conditioned. Part of the manipulation is to make you think it's your idea.

Nice people don't smoke.

Smoking is self-abuse, smoking in public is public self-abuse, and smoking with others is group self-abuse.

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of people, or two ways people can be: upbeat and downbeat.

Or maybe we could say 'live beat' and deadbeat.

When you smoke, you're a deadbeat.

Keeping the beat of life is essential. While you keep the beat, you're moving along in the stream of life. When you smoke, you step out of the stream. You're in a stagnant pool off to the side, where nothing good happens.

Once you lose the beat, things usually get worse before they get better. One no longer flows from one correct thought or action to the next. You miss the cues. You're out of step with the music.

In smoking you succumb to a cultural neurosis, a vast sickness.

If you smoke in an enclosed apartment, the smoke seeps through the vents, ducts, ceiling, and walls, gets into adjacent apartments and makes your non-smoking neighbors nauseous.

You make somebody have to sell you those cigarettes. Some human being, who could be doing something more worthwhile and satisfying, must instead spend all day or night selling cigarettes to nicotine fiends.

One person's smoke in a park overwhelms the flowers' scents for everyone.

A guy who smokes is not a mensch. When I was young, my Jewish classmates had a big affair with their bar mitzvahs. This is the ceremony and celebration that mark the arrival at manhood -- becoming, in Yiddish, a mensch." A mensch is a real man. He is reliable and dependable. He takes care of others.

If you smoke around others, you're hurting them. If you smoke at all, you're harming your health and weakening yourself. This makes you less able to help others. That's not being a mensch.

Notice what other kinds of people smoke: winos, punks, people with full body tattoos.... Have you ever wondered what they have in common -- or what you have in common with them?

Smoke lingers on your clothes and hair and makes you stink like cigarettes. When you see someone edging away from you in line, now you know the reason why.

Tobacco companies have manipulated the content of cigarettes to promote addiction.

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© 2007 - John S. Uebersax PhD    contact
Vers. 1.0: 18 Sep 2007