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The smoker’s dead end…

Today’s discovery: a local “pound shop” purchase designed to remind its users that everyone stops smoking sooner or later. The sooner the better, of course…

P.S. This might have made an excellent Father’s Day present, save for the fact that being a “smoking product” it couldn’t be sold to “persons under the age of 21″!

Joking about smoking…

No thank you. Just look at the warning on the packet: ‘Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence’!

Greece defaults – on smoking crackdown

Hypnotherapia has just returned from a visit to Athens, where the possibility of a Greek “default” is discussed anywhere where there is an enclosed space that can be filled with cigarette smoke. The Greeks smoke for Europe; that is their true role in the EU. Legislation now says they should do that only outdoors or in the privacy of their own homes, but… While smoking is banned in hospitals, schools, vehicles and all public spaces, you’ll find Greeks vigorously puffing away in hospitals, schools, vehicles and all public spaces. Fact: the law banning smoking is largely ignored. Be prepared for two things when you visit an Athenian taverna: one, the bill (more expensive than the last time you visited); and two, the smokers who will almost certainly sit at an adjacent table (even if every other table is free), and blow smoke in your direction…

Scene clearly without cigarette prop…

Smokers – People who claim that the more they fume, the less they fret.” (Found in 10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories, ed. L. & F. Copeland, Garden City Publishing, New York, 1946.)

There is some truth in this vintage witticism but that does not make it an argument (still being advanced today!) for smoking. You will get relief from a stressful situation simply by taking a break from it. The stressed-out smoker takes a “fag break” and for a minute or two may well fret less, but the salutary fact is that the cigarette is an unnecessary (and harmful) prop.

Book review: Ten Stories about Smoking

Smokers need to understand their habit. Unfortunately, cigarette smoke clouds insight.

Most smokers can hazard a guess at why they started to smoke, but the hazarded guesses can become somewhat woollier when they try to identify what keeps them smoking.

It is usual for hypnotherapists offering smoking cessation treatment to start by asking clients to log the details of each cigarette smoked in the course of a week or so.  The results are usually a revelation!

Clients become more self-aware as they identify the “triggers” that inevitably get them reaching for their cigarettes. The knowledge gained from closely observing their habit is then used to help smokers achieve their desired end: to become non-smokers.

For an investment of just £14.99 (possibly less if one shops around) there is an easy and enjoyable way of focusing on the smoking habit: buy and read Ten Stories about Smoking by Stuart Evers (Picador).

Evers has written ten short stories that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever smoked – or who has pondered the matter.

The book deals with the highs and lows of cigarette smoking, sensitively and sympathetically. The lowest point is undoubtedly the tenth story – “The Final Cigarette”– which would encourage anyone thinking of quitting!

Rather like the key ingredient of its subject matter, Ten Stories about Smoking is attractively packaged: it comes boxed like a flip-top packet of cigarettes. Content and “wrapping” make this book an ideal gift for any smoker. Buy it to give someone a nudge in the right direction!

Funding cut threatens to extinguish smoking habits survey

The National Health Service’s £300,000 contribution to the cost of the annual General Lifestyle Survey is to be axed – unless Health Secretary Andrew Lansley decrees otherwise.

The survey provides important information about British smoking habits. If the withdrawal of NHS money goes ahead commentators believe it will mean an end to this vital work by the Office of National Statistics.

Public health experts have warned that the data produced by the survey is critical to developing effective health policies.

The most recent General Lifestyle Survey related to 2009 and showed that smoking was nearly twice as common among British adults in routine and manual occupation groups as in managerial and professional groups. In households classified as routine and manual, 29 per cent of adults smoked cigarettes, compared to 15 per cent in managerial and professional households.

The ONS survey also revealed:

• For the third year running, 21 per cent of the adult population in Great Britain were cigarette smokers, compared to 45 per cent in 1974 when the smoking data were first collected.

• The smoking prevalence difference between men and women had substantially dropped, to 22 per cent (men) and 20 per cent (women) in 2009, from the 1974 level of 51 per cent (men) and 41 per cent (women).

• Prevalence was highest in North West England, where 23 per cent of adults were smokers and lowest in the South West (18 per cent).

• Nearly two thirds of smokers said they would like to give up.

And although filter-tipped cigarettes continued to be the most widely-smoked cigarette, especially among women, there had been a substantial increase in the popularity of “roll-ups”. In 2009, 21 per cent of women smokers said they rolled their own, compared to only 2 per cent in 1990. In 2009, 37 per cent of men smokers rolled their own compared with 18 per cent in 1990.

BUDGET SPECIAL: Rebuff leaves smoking pensioners smouldering

Pensioners were disappointed by today’s budget. First came the announcement that the promise of a £140-a-week pension did not extend to people already retired.  Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to announce the hoped-for reintroduction of the pensioners’  “tobacco token” scheme of 1947.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget speech  dealt economically with tobacco and left pensioners in no doubt that they would not be getting any help from the public purse to maintain their smoking habits.

“As announced by my predecessor, tobacco duty rates will increase by two per cent above inflation. However, it is clear that the structure of the tobacco duty regime is being exploited to produce cheaper cigarettes. So we will change the regime to narrow the differential between these lower cost brands and the rest, and between cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco,” said Mr Osborne.

The Chancellor’s chosen version of “regime change” took the price of a pack of “cheaper” cigarettes from about £5.13 to £5.63, while more upmarket brands nudged the £7 barrier.

Pensioners’ expectations had been running high that the government would mitigate the effects of high levels of tobacco duty on elderly lower-income smokers – as was done in the  immediate post-war years. The government of the day gave financial support in the form of tokens to help  pensioners carry on smoking.

Some 1.5 million books of tokens were initially handed out. Every book contained 48 tokens, each worth two shillings (20p at today’s prices – but the comparison is completely meaningless…). The tokens could be freely exchanged for tobacco products. As a government spokesman of the time declared: “It should not be necessary for an old age pensioner himself to visit the tobacconist in order to cash his tokens, these tokens are very negotiable. Anyone who happens to have a tobacco book can walk into a tobacconist’s establishment and use them.”

Mr Osborne insisted that his measures would “reduce smoking and improve our nation’s health”.

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The smoking nurses who find it a fag…

“Separate research conducted by Prof Gray has shown that the incidence of smoking among mental health workers is higher than in the general population and nurses who smoke are less likely to promote smoking cessation in their patients.” – from a press release issued yesterday by the University of East Anglia.

Cigarettes R.I.P.

This blog is mostly about smoking and is written by a therapist who uses hypnosis to help smokers quit. It focuses on the media’s treatment of the issue. Take, for example, reports on the latest official tobacco control plan…

The headline-grabbing “key actions” of the government’s latest tobacco control plan for England are the ban on shop displays of tobacco, which will be total by April 2015, and the proposal that tobacco products should be supplied in plain packaging.

The government has declared that the plan (full details of which can be found on the Department of Health web site) has three major objectives: to cut adult English smoking rates from 21.2 per cent to 18.5 per cent or less; to reduce smoking among 15-year-olds from 15 per cent to 12 per cent or less; and among pregnant women from 14 per cent to 11 per cent or less. All of this is to be achieved by 2016.

It could also have directly declared its intention to curb deaths caused by smoking in bed, which would have flagged up a good “human interest” news story…

Government action will “include a new EU standard for reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes in the British National Standards collection”.

The plan identifies smoking materials as a significant cause of house fires:

“In 2007, there were 2,354 smoking-related fires in England, resulting in 73 deaths and 789 injuries. The EU published a safety standard and test method for reduced ignition propensity cigarettes in November 2010, with referencing…planned for 12 months later. This period will enable cigarette manufacturers to make necessary changes in their manufacturing processes to meet the new standard.

“The standard for reduced ignition propensity cigarettes was developed to find a technical solution to prevent cigarettes from burning through their whole length when not being actively smoked, because of the fire hazard this represents… The introduction of RIP cigarettes could save between 800 and 900 lives per year in European countries.”

Hypnotherapist bloggers look forward to continuing to play their part in writing smoking’s epitaph: Cigarettes R.I.P.!

The cigarette smoke screen stops people seeing clearly

This blog is about smoking and is written by a therapist who uses hypnosis to help smokers quit. It focuses on the media’s treatment of the issue. Take, for example, The Times newspaper’s review of the book,  Ten Stories About Smoking

“This book reminds you that it’s not simply a filthy habit that makes you poor and dead, and hate yourself, and inadvertently start fires.” That’s what The Times said last Saturday in its review of Ten Stories About Smoking by Stuart Evers. We agree; smoking is a much more complicated matter than a simple filthy habit. Smoking may be a screen hiding personal issues that urgently require addressing. People need to explore why they continue to smoke, despite the expense, despite knowing of the threats to their own health (and the health of others) – and despite vigorous national campaigning against the habit. That is why hypnotherapy, which is hypnosis + psychotherapy, has proved so helpful to people looking to give up smoking.

:~) Today is NO SMOKING DAY – it’s also ASH WEDNESDAY!