You can quit smoking or else you can quit quitting smoking

Kenji Tsuchiya

Recently it has become difficult to experience pain. Dentists have improved so much that patients need not suffer pain. Children are taught how to avoid tooth decay. Patients in a dentist's waiting room are confortably reading magazines, listening to background music, and do not feel frightened any more.
But pain polishes human beings, and makes them aware of the deeper meaning of life. It would be a pity to finish one's life with no experience of pain. Fortunately, I have never felt short of pain thanks to my teeth, but I cannot help but regret that I cannot exchange my experience for that of another who has not suffered enough pain.
Given this situation, it is fortunate that there remains an opportunity to suffer pain, sadly a unique one. It is quitting smoking. It gives us a pain which is physical, mental, metaphysical and ethical, --a pain which is quite many-sided and complicated.
In order to experience it, it is necessary to have developed a habit of smoking at least 40 cigarettes a day, hopefully for 20 years. Then pain will be yours. Even if you are unfortunate enough to get cancer before you start to quit smoking, you can suffer the pain of cancer instead.

Generally speaking, a habit, once established, is extremely difficult to cut off, or to replace with a new one. I can say from experience that it is very difficult to form the habit of walking backward on all fours instead of walking forward on foot, and that it is virtually impossible to form the habit of holding chopsticks in the foot instead of the hand, or of seeing with the ears instead of the eyes.
On the other hand, there is a principle that things can only get worse. A compromise between this principle and the principle that a habit can not be replaced with a new one gave rise to the principle that a habit can easily be replaced with a new, worse one. Bad habits are easy to form, such as drinking, gambling, shoplifting, jogging, toothbrushing, taking a bath every day and so on. Smoking is among them. One has to endure only a little to form the habit of smoking, and it takes enormous pain to get out of it.
But the more difficult the achievement, the greater the reward. When you have quit smoking, a new world spread out before you. Foods become more delicious. Air becomes more refreshing. Above all, cigarettes become more tasty.
The effect extends to mental life. You can stand on the side of justice and glare at a man who is smoking, inhaling lungfuls of the smoke (which is very delicious). It is a spiritual revolution from always feeling guilty to feeling healthy and confident. You can even devote your life to promoting the right to avoid passive smoking.
You may think I exaggerate, but once you have succeeded in quitting smoking, though it might seem exagarated, you gain deeper insight into life, or rather you gain the illusion that you have gained deeper insight into life. One who previously felt no feel any sympathy with those who suffered from pain comes to look scornfully on them on the grounds that their pain is nothing compared with his own. He comes to think that those who have not had experienced enough pain are contemptible because they have experienced only a half of life. He comes to think of those who can not quit smoking as lesser than dogs. He then thinks that ultimately the only one who deserves the name of human being is himself, and reaches spiritual peace.

How, then, can one stop smoking? Many methods have been proposed, but there is one thing to keep in mind whatever method you may adopt: You should never be too conscious of quitting smoking. You must avoid the situation where you make too much conscious effort to quit smoking and, as a result, keep thinking of smoking all day long. This is similar to the case where you try so hard to forget something that you have to summon up frequently what to forget in order to make certain to forget it and, as a result, inscribe it firmly in memory.
The first crisis comes when you determine to quit smoking. The thought that you can't smoke any more makes your attention focus on smoking and stirs up hunger for smoking. In such a case, it is not a good idea to persuade yourself that if you overcome the temptation now, it will make smoking much tastier later. It is true that the longer you have stopped smoking, the tastier smoking becomes. But this only makes you love smoking the more, although it can be said to have had a good effect on you, since it is better if you smoke anyway to enjoy smoking than to smoke unwillingly.
What is important is casualness. If you become oblibious of quitting smoking, you have almost succeeded in quitting smoking. To become unaware of smoking when you smoke, is a big achievement. If you forget consciousness, forget yourself, forget you should stop smoking, and so transcend the distinction between smoking and stopping smoking, it would be nothing less than spiritual enlightment.
There is another method which does not cause much pain. This is to replace cigarettes gradually with lighter ones and finally to get satisfaction from the smoke other people exhale, the smoke chimneys belch, the smog, or sulphurous acid gas, namely, anything poisonous. To replace them gradually with lighter ones is to be recommended, since if you replace cigarettes with much lighter ones suddenly, you will end up smoking more cigarettes. If, on the other hand, you replace them gradually with lighter ones, the number of cigarettes you smoke will increase only gradually.
But as you can easily see, the problem with this method is that you will somehow try to make up for the amount of nicotine lost by the substitution of lighter cigarettes. Even if the number of cigarette you smoke remains the same, you will smoke them down closer to the filter than before. In extreme cases, you may end up smoking the filter. However, if you get satisfaction from smoking only the filters, you can be said to have succeeded in quitting smoking in a way. But you must beware, because in some cases people don't remain satisfied with filters, and get addicted to smoking their finger tips. It is difficult to light a finger tip.
There is another popular method, which is to reduce gradually the number of cigarettes you smoke. But I can't recommend this method wholeheartedly. Suppose someone who smokes 40 cigarettes a day has made up his mind to reduce the number to 10. He might be able to restrict himself to 10 cigarettes for a couple of days. But he will soon be borrowing some in advance from tomorrow's 10 cigarettes, thinking he will return them tomorrow, and will end up smoking the cigarette which is supposed to be smoked in 6 months time. Of course he can persuade himself to feel he has succeeded in reducing the number on the grounds that he is only borrowing future ones. But it causes the problem that the calculation will become more and more complicated and one will have difficulty in remembering how many years later the cigarette one is smoking now was supposed to be smoked.
It is not impossible to work out a way to avoid this problem. One who smokes 40 cigarettes a day need only make a long (or thick) cigarette by joining 40 cigarettes together. In this way, one can control freely the number, whether it may be one a day or one a month. The problem is that it will be difficult to make a very long cigarette and, what's more, it will be difficult to smoke it. If you make a long one by joining 40 cigarettes together lengthwise, you will not be able to light it by yourself. If, on the other hand, you bind 40 cigarettes into one bundle of cigarette, it will be so thick that only exceptional people will be able to smoke it. Thus, we must conclude this method is not desirable.
There is another method not to be recommended. This is to restrict oneself to smoking a cigarette after each meal. I can say from experience that as a result of this method, you will have 20 meals a day, which will ruin your health. However, you might be able to persuade yourself that your broken health is not due to smoking.
The method which might seem the worst one is that you never buy any cigarettes yourself. He who adopts this method declares to others at the outset that he will quit smoking. He has taken into account human nature that people want to offer a cigarette to those who are going to quit smoking. When offered a cigarette, he will smoke it hesitantly at first, saying, "You are discouraging one who is going to quit smoking", and then will smoke some more as it were desparately, and end up taking some more for smoking later. Those who offer him cigarettes hate to walk along the way to lung cancer without his company. That is why those who are unwilling to lend 10 pence to a friend offer cigarettes generously. Thus, this method makes use cleverly of the psychological fact that if a danger is shared by many people, it is diluted. Moreover, it strengthens fellowship and saves money as well. So it can be said to be the best method. Of course this might not be called quitting smoking. But with such a good outcome, what difference should it make, whether quitting smoking or smoking?
There is an extremely effective if impractical method. It is to substitute something more habit-forming and ineradicable, such as marijuana, drugs, or pop corn. People believe that it takes stronger will to quit drugs than to quit smoking. So you might think one can expect more sympathy from people when one can't quit taking drugs than when one can't quit smoking, but in fact one would be treated as a criminal.
By the way, is the reason why drugs are banned that they are habit-forming and ineradicable? But far more habit-forming and ineradicable are water, food, sleeping and breathing. When water or breathing is cut off, withdrawal symptoms are so severe that death may result. The reason why drugs are banned is probably that they are harmful. But then why isn't having more harmful things such as potassium cyanide banned legally (e.g. "The maximum penalty for ingestion of a lethal dose of potassum cyanide is capital punishment")?

After one has experienced severe difficulties in quitting smoking many times, the moment will finally come when one cannot help asking the crucial question: why should one quit smoking? Is it really proved that smoking is harmful? Of course there is a flood of books claiming the harmfulness of smoking. But what is written in a book is not necessarily true, as evidenced by this book. Moreover, if you search carefully, it will not be impossible to find a book claiming benefits for smoking, especially when you search through old books and the publications issued by cigarette makers. Even if you can't find any, there is a surer way: you can write such a book yourself.
Is it possible to prove the harmfulness of smoking in the first place? If a smoker has a tendency to get cancer, why should that prove the harmfulness of smoking? It might prove that people who are fond of smoking are constitutionally liable to die young, and yet, thanks to smoking, live long enough to get cancer. Or it might prove that smokers are unlikely to be killed by traffic accidents.
It is true I have a feeling that I heard from someone who claimed to have read a report in a newspaper that experiments on mice showed that those mice that are forced to smoke incessantly for days or months got cancer. Needless to say, such indirect evidence lacks reliability ( Especially as my memory is utterly unreliable). Even if the experiments really produced that result, it only proves that they produced that result. The most you can conclude from that fact will be that when you don't have rat poison you have only to force mice to smoke for months.
It is impossibe in principle to prove the harmfulness of smoking. If it is true of animals, it does not follow that it is true of human beings. Heraclit, an ancient Greek philosopher, said that fresh water is harmful to fishes but not to human beings. What is harmful depends upon the kind of animal. Thus you can easily show that eating meat is harmful to a herbivorous animal, by forcing it to eat meat. It may survive, but if you keep forcing it to eat meat persistently for many years, it will die at last.
There is a great difference between animals and human beings. A human being can never grow as large as an elephant, however much grass or hay he might eat. He can never make his legs as thin as those of a crane, whatever special diet he might stick to. He can never become as diligent as an ant, however hard he might try. So it is meaningless to carry out a lot of experiments on various animals such as hippopotami, whales and pheasants.
It does not take experiments on animals to see smoking is harmful to them. The evidence is the fact that no animal likes smoking. Here I am making the assumption that animals in nature avoid harmful things. But I believe no animal would object to this assumption. In fact, some animals have bodies which are structually unsuitable for smoking. Some have mouths unsuitable for cigarettes (crocodiles, cranes, pelicans). Some can not said to have any mouth at all (earthworms, amoebae, shellfish). Some live in unsuitable places (fish, sea anemone, colitis germ). Some are of an unsuitable size ( whales, ants, mosquitos). Some have difficulties in lighting a cigarette ( chickens, tortoises, and especially snakes ). Some don't have enough money to buy cigarettes (almost all the animals and toddlers). Some can't learn how to buy cigarettes (almost all the animals and toddlers). They are born non-smokers. So it is impossible that smoking should not do them harm. Is there any one who has seen earthworms or grasshoppers smoking? (Though it is possible they are smoking without being noticed.)
By contrast, we can produce as many proofs as we like that smoking is not harmful.

Proof (1)
If one has been smoking for 50 years, then one has lived for at least 50 years.
Therefore, the longer one smokes, the longer one lives.

(You can produce an infinite number of proofs by substituting '60', '98', '230' etc. for '50'.)

Proof (2)
One cigarette does not cause death.
One cigarette added to some number of cigarettes does not cause death by itself.
Therefore, by mathematical induction, no cigarette can cause a death.

Proof (3)
One ought to do what one can do today, because the future is uncertain.
One cannot quit smoking today, because stopping for one day cannot be said to be quitting smoking.
By contrast, smoking can be achieved in one day, in fact in a few seconds.
Therefore one ought to smoke today.

Proof (4)
Life expectancy has increased since Columbus brought the cigarette from America.
Therefore, in the long run, smoking has the effect of increasing longevity.

Proof (5)
An ill person can get well by quitting smoking.
On the other hand, it is impossible for a non-smoker to get well by quitting smoking.
Therefore a smoker is more liable to get well than a non-smoker.

Proof (6)
One quits smoking in order to be healthy, and tries to be healthy in order to be comfortable.
But nobody knows what the pourpose of confort is.
So the ultimate purpose of quitting smoking is unknown.
Smoking, by contrast, has the definite and valuable purpose of giving pleasure.
Acts with a valuable purpose are more valuable than those with no purpose.
Therefore smoking is preferable to quitting smoking.

Proof (7)
By nature the body gets pleasure from what is good for it.
The body gets pleasure from smoking.
Therefore somoking is good for the body.

Proof (8)
He who cannot quit smoking is weak and sinful.
Shinran, a great Japanese Buddist monk, said that since even virtuous men can go to Paradise, then how much easier it is for sinful men.
What Shinran said is true, because he is a great thinker.
Therefore he who cannot quit smoking is easier to go to Paradise than he who doesn't smoke.

( This does not mean, of course, that it is easier for him to die.)

Proof (9)
The things you can only get for money are more valuable than those you can get for free.
To inhale cigarette smoke needs money, whereas to inhale fresh air is free.
Therefore inhaling cigarette smoke is more valuable.

Proof (10)
Socrates is a human being.
Every human being is mortal.
Therefore smoking is not harmful.

( You can get this proof easily by applying to smoking the following proof which you can find in almost every textbook of logic.

Socrates is a human being.
Every human being is mortal.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.

You can produce an infinite number of proofs by replacing 'Socrates' with 'Plato', 'Sherlock Holms', etc., and 'mortal' with 'immoral', 'harmful', 'immoral, harmful and harmful' etc. )

Thus, it can be seen that we can think of as many proofs as we like that smoking is not harmful. We can think of even more if we don't mind whether the proof is correct or not.
The most effective way to defeat those who claim that smoking is harmful is to show them the above proofs and to insist that the harmfulness of smoking can not be claimed to be decisively established until they refute completely the above proofs. This strategy accords with the iron rule of competition that if there is no hope of winning, one should aim at a drawn or called match. As long as the above arguments are not refuted completely, the controversy over the harmufulness of smoking is not settled, and so you can smoke with no worry.
However, there might be a tough theorist who refutes these completely. In this case, there are some manoeuvres possible.
(1) to remove to a place where there is no such smart guy, or, if necessary, to a foreign country where you don't understand the language.
(2) to refuse to reveal a new proof no matter what happens, until you are given assurances that your smoking would never be disturbed.
(3) to get incurable cancer. You will get free from the worry that you might get cancer someday. Then you can put the harm of smoking out of your mind and smoke as much as you like.

These manoeuvres will enable you to dodge the danger of defeat. Be that as it may, won't the time come when all the controversies and discord disappear and people can peacefully and amicably smoke?

It is sometimes said that you must undergo a medical examination periodically, if you smoke. In answer to this, I want to say, "Don't talk nonsense. What if any disease should be discovered!". The type of person who is willing to undergo a medical examination would not have been smoking in the first place. A smoker lives a life of secret anxiety. Every time he discovers a worrying symptom, he can't disclose it to anyone and every day puts off until tomorrow having a medical examination, making a firm promise in his mind that he will go to a doctor as soon as he is convinced that no disease will be discovered.
You can now see what type of person the smoker is. He is the type of person who as a child spent the summer vacation keeping his hands off the homework, and since then has never lived a day without anxiety, adhering as he has to the basic principle of avoiding whatever he should do. That is to say, he is a likeable person. Unfortunately this type of person is appreciated only by another of the same type.
Obviously it is impossible for this type of person to quit smoking. Even if he succeeded, he could not help making up for it by starting to do something even less constructive than smoking.

I have now quitted smoking. This is an absolutely true fact, not a fake such as that I have not smoked in the last 30 minutes. I gave up a year ago. Thanks to this, my physical condition which was so poor before has become even worse. But you can't achieve the hard task of quitting smoking, if you are afraid of injuring your health. I think this valuable experience of quitting smoking cannot be replaced with anything else, though a bit of me wishes it could.
As a person who has succeeded in quitting smoking, I have now reached the mental state in which I would like to help as many people as possible break the habit of smoking, and to open an stop smoking clinic in an isolated place. And when an client cannot bear the pain of quitting smoking, I would like to sell him a cigarette for 5 pounds.
Last night I dreamt I was smoking. Of course, even in the dream, I was forced to smoke by someone who threatened to kill me unless I didn't smoke, and I can remember clearly I smoked only one and a half cigarettes. I swear that I didn't inhale the smoke deeply into my lungs but only half way down the windpipe. Nobody could misunderstand the meaning of this dream. It tells me that my body is requiring me to get into the habit of smoking again in order to experience onece more the pain of quitting.
I have just reexperienced that familiar numb feeling I used to have before when the nicotine ran out. Probably I have got conscious of smoking, writing abut smoking. The voice I hear from the innermost part of my body is shouting unmistakably, "The pain of quitting smoking, once again!". Perhaps it is time once more to launch into the long process of savoring that pain.