6 Ways to Cut Down on Your Social Smoking
Do you find yourself on a night out with friends, reaching for a cigarette?
While smoking sporadically is less dangerous than doing it every day, social smoking still comes with serious health risks. In fact, research shows even smoking just one cigarette reduces a person’s life by 11 minutes.
If you smoke socially, it’s usually because there are certain situations, people, or places that trigger you to do it.
The good news is it’s easier to quit if you only smoke socially and not every day, because your brain and body don’t depend on nicotine yet.
1. Lose the booze
It’s hard to resist a cigarette or two when you’re drinking.
The reason is that nicotine changes how the brain responds to alcohol, which means more alcohol is needed before you get the same feel-good response that a non-smoker gets after a couple of drinks. Alcohol also boosts the level of feel-good chemicals generated in the brain by nicotine.
Smoking on a night out can give you worse hangovers than non-smokers too. This is because cigarette smoke contains a chemical called acetaldehyde - also present in alcohol - which is thought to be behind those nasty hangover symptoms.
Try switching to alcohol-free alternatives or reducing the amount you drink on a night out instead to curb those cravings. Alternating with a glass of water after each alcoholic drink is also a good way to avoid the dreaded Sunday morning hangover.
2. Change the way you socialise
If you mix with people who smoke, it will be harder to limit or avoid social smoking.
Why not try to meet up in places where it isn’t allowed instead? That way you’ll all have to forgo it together.
Spending time in, libraries, museums, shopping centres, or going to the cinema can distract you from the urge to smoke during the days when your cravings are their worst.
Spending more time with non-smokers will also be valuable, as you’ll be less tempted to go out and smoke if you’ll be alone.
3. Help the host
Attending someone’s party or a special occasion increases your chances of lighting up if you’re a social smoker. A useful tip is to keep yourself busy and volunteer to help the host or your group of friends at the event.
Whether it’s volunteering to play bartender, passing around hors d’oeuvres, or even agreeing to watch over others’ kids attending, these activities will enable you to concentrate on other things besides your cravings.
4. Remove yourself from the situation
When a group of friends start to head outside for a smoke, make an excuse like heading to the bathroom, or choose to step outside for a walk around the block instead.
Removing yourself temporarily from the situation, when friends are talking about lighting up, will calm your nerves and strengthen your resolve.
Make sure you stay in non-smoking areas when out in bars or pubs, so you’re not tempted by the smell of smoke.
5. Keep a water bottle handy
Smoking isn’t just a mental addiction, it’s a physical habit too.
Part of quitting social smoking is about learning to keep your hands busy when they would usually be holding a cigarette. A filled water bottle is a good solution; keep it with you everywhere, and refill it regularly, especially when you get the urge to smoke.
Your hands will get the satisfaction of holding something, and you’ll stay hydrated too.
6. Address stress
If you think you might smoke socially due to stress or anxiety, it’s important to work out what’s causing you to feel this way and find other, healthier ways to relax and unwind.
Going for a gentle walk outside, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are all proven ways to reduce stress and make you feel calmer.
If you still struggle to manage stress, despite making lifestyle changes, make an appointment with your GP to discuss the possibility of professional emotional support.