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The Good Life

On Smoking
by Barbara Branden

In the endless conversations, essays, articles, television shows, letters to the editor, and debates about the tobacco industry versus the government, one issue is considered unarguable: that cigarettes are addictive.

I, like most people who heard the cigarette manufacturers claim before a congressional committee that tobacco is not addictive, believed that their statement was a deliberate lie. They probably were lying, believing that one becomes hooked on cigarettes as one does on morphine or heroin. Today, however, I have no alternative but to consider that perhaps their claims were correct.

I smoked for fifty years. In the last twenty years during which I smoked two packs a day I attended Smoke Enders three times, I quit cold turkey for two years, I was hypnotized, I wore the patch. Nothing lasted, nothing worked. My withdrawal symptoms were, quite simply, unendurable.

A few years ago, two friends concerned about my health sent me a book entitled Allan Carr's 'Easy Way to Stop Smoking.' It contains a perspective on smoking that was completely new to me. One of the major points the writer makes for a period of years he smoked a hundred cigarettes a day is that smokers have been brainwashed into believing themselves addicted, brainwashed into believing they must go through a special kind of hell, if and when they stop smoking. He makes his point convincingly.

Near the end of the book, Allan Carr tells the reader that when he finishes he is to close the book, then smoke the last cigarette he ever will have. I finished the book, I lit a cigarette, I smoked less than half of it and I put it out. I did not want it. In the years since then, I have had not a single moment of the symptoms of withdrawal from an addiction, not a single moment of feeling I needed a cigarette.

I do not know where the supposed psychological aspect of the "addiction" went; I know only that I did not experience it. I don't believe that Allan Carr's book is another instance of brainwashing, this time in the opposite direction. I do not believe that I was hypnotized or self-hypnotized. I did not expect the book to have the least effect on me and was astonished when it did.

In the light of my experience and in the light of the identical experience of a great many "hooked" smokers to whom I gave or recommended the book I think it time for researchers to recheck their conclusion that tobacco contains an addictive substance. Allan Carr's 'Easy Way to Stop Smoking' has sold more than a million copies internationally, and his network of clinics spans the globe.

We live in a world in which almost everything we do, that we know we ought not to do, is said to be an addiction. I am not a scientist; I have only anecdotal evidence. But if challenging a conviction that had seemed little short of self-evident the conviction that I was the helpless victim of a powerful addiction enabled me and so many thousands of other people in this country and around the world to stop smoking as easily as we used to puff one cigarette after another, then the "self-evident" needs to be reexamined.

Barnes & Noble are the publishers of the book; it is available via their web site , and via mail order at 1 (800) 843-2665. Unfortunately, they published the book as a "bargain book," which makes it difficult to find in stores.

I can think of no better present for yourself, if you smoke, or for friends who still smoke.

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