Why smoking isn't the little helper you think it is

Do you believe that smoking helps you get through the trials of your everyday life? Let’s see how many of these beliefs are actually true.

Smoking increases concentration and focus1,2

Most smokers swear that a quick smoke improves their concentration when they need it most. In actual fact, the feeling of improved concentration is most likely due to the relief of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. After you finish a cigarette, the level of nicotine in your body gradually drops, causing you to experience withdrawal symptoms including a lack of concentration.

So when you quit smoking, your body goes through withdrawal, which might explain why you feel that your concentration levels plummet during this time.

Smoking helps you relax1

Like the feeling of greater concentration after smoking, the relaxation you feel is simply the nicotine withdrawal symptoms being relieved.

Smoking helps you deal with difficult situations1,3,4

You may feel like smoking helps you cope with difficult situations: helps to calm you down when you feel anxious or stressed. In reality, from the moment you take a puff, your heart starts to work harder. Your blood pressure rises and your heart beats faster. That’s not exactly calming …

Smoking also affects your mood, although the nicotine picks you up, the withdrawal brings you down – even if it is just between cigarettes.

In fact, by quitting smoking, you might just find that you can better cope with lots of difficult situations. You’re likely to experience:5

  • reduced anxiety
  • less symptoms of depression
  • less stress
  • more general positive feelings
  • improvements in your quality of life.

Smoking keeps you thin5,6,7

Most smokers don’t gain excessive amounts of weight when they quit. While it is true that smokers generally weigh slightly less than non-smokers, the reasons behind this are certainly not worth the few kilograms:

  • your metabolism is increased by your addiction to nicotine
  • smoking dulls taste, making food less enjoyable than for non-smokers
  • smoking serves as a distraction from actually eating.

Incorporating some small changes into your diet and exercise when you quit can help to offset any weight gain you may experience.

All in all, smoking may feel good. It may feel like it’s helping, and it may feel like you won’t be able to cope without it. But that’s the withdrawal speaking. You are stronger than the withdrawal - and you’ll be even stronger without the cigarettes.

©Pfizer 2019. Pfizer Australia Pty Limited. Pfizer Medical Information: 1800 675 229. Sydney, Australia. PP-CHM-AUS-0825, 04/2019

1 Benowitz NL. N Engl J Med. 2010 June 17; 362(24): 2295–2303.

2 Ashare RL et al. Neuropharmacology. 2014 January ; 76(0 0): . doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.04.034.

3 British heart foundation. Smoking. Available at https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking Accessed 8 March 2019.

4 Omvik P. Blood Press 1996;5:71-7.

5I can quit. NSW Government, Cancer institute NSW. Looking and Feeling Better After Quitting. Available at https://www.icanquit.com.au/reasons-to-quit/benefits-of-quitting/health-benefits/looking-and-feeling-better Accessed 8 March 2019.

6Audrain-McGovern J and Benowitz NL. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 July ; 90(1): 164–168. doi:10.1038/clpt.2011.105.

7NetDoctor. Keeping your weight down. Available at http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/a5019/keeping-your-weight-down/ Accessed 8 March 2019.