Ex-smokers are sometimes tempted when watching others smoke. Spending time with a specific friend and watching them smoke may be a trigger especially if it was the most time you spent with the friend since you quit smoking. The first time you have any new experiences, even if smoking is not part of the ritual, the thought for a cigarette will seem like a natural part of the ritual.
Another factor is when watching a person smoke, the natural tendency is for the ex-smoker to start to fantasize about how good a cigarette will be at that given moment. A more productive way to handle the situation though is to really watch the person smoke one, and then wait a few minutes as they light another and then another. Soon you will see that they are smoking in a way that you don't want to and probably in a way that they don't want to either. But they have no choice. You do. Also, I am attaching a letter here that addresses this issue. It is a little harder to describe because it is based on a demonstration I do at live seminars that you have never seen.
One demonstration I do at all my live seminars is a little smoking contraption made out of a plastic Palmolive bottle with a mouth piece inserted to hold a cigarette. The simulation shows how much smoke comes in when a person inhales, and how much comes out when they exhale. Smokers often feel they take in smoke and then blow most of it out, when in actuality, a very small percent actually comes out (about 10%.) I always use cigarettes given to me by people in the audience, if I used one I brought people would think I was using a loaded cigarette. Anyway, below is a letter I wrote for clinic graduates who have seen this demonstration. The concepts here though apply to those who haven't also. Take my word for it, or better yet, Joanne, Linda or Joyce could explain their memories of the demonstration. Viewing smoking as it really looks will minimize the temptation even of a puff.
Anyway, here is the letter.
Whenever you watch a person smoking, think of the Palmolive bottle demonstration you saw the first day of the Stop Smoking Clinic. Visualize all of the smoke that goes into the bottle that doesn't come out. Also, remember that the smoker is not only going to smoke that one cigarette. He will probably smoke another within a half-hour. Then another after that. In fact, he will probably smoke 20, 40, 60 or even more cigarettes by the end of the day. And tomorrow will be the same. After looking at cigarettes like this, you don't want to smoke a cigarette, do you?
I always suggest that clinic participants follow this simple visualization exercise to help them overcome the urge for a cigarette. When I suggested it to one participant who was off for three days she replied, "I see, you want me to brainwash myself so that I don't want a cigarette."
Somehow I don't consider this technique of visualizing smoking brainwashing. It is not like the ex-smoker is being asked to view smoking in an artificially horrible, nightmarish manner. To the contrary, I am only asking the ex-smoker to view cigarette smoking in its true light.
The Palmolive bottle demonstration accurately portrays the actual amount of smoke that goes in as compared to the small amount that you see the smoker blow out. Most smokers believe they exhale the majority of smoke they inhale into their lungs. But, as you saw by the demonstrations, most of the smoke remains in the lungs. When you visualize all the smoke that remains, it does not paint a pretty picture of what is happening in the smoker. Maybe not a pretty picture, but an accurate one.
When an ex-smoker watches a person smoke a cigarette, he may fantasize about how much the smoker is enjoying it--how good it must taste and make him feel. It is true he may be enjoying that particular cigarette, but the odds are he is not.
Most smokers enjoy a very small percentage of the cigarettes they smoke. In fact, they are really unaware of most of the cigarettes they smoke. Some are smoked out of simple habit, but most are smoked in order to alleviate withdrawal symptoms experienced by all smokers whose nicotine levels have fallen below minimal requirements. The cigarette may taste horrible, but the smoker has to smoke it. And because the majority of smokers are such addicts, they must smoke many such cigarettes every single day in order to maintain a constant blood nicotine level.
Don't fantasize about cigarettes. Always keep a clear, objective perspective of what it would once again be like to be an addicted smoker. There is no doubt at all that if you relapse to smoking you will be under the control of a very powerful addiction. You will be spending hundreds of dollars a year for thousands of cigarettes. You will smell like cigarettes and be viewed as socially unacceptable in many circles. You will be inhaling thousands of poisons with every puff. These poisons will rob you of your endurance and your health. One day they may eventually rob you of your life.
Consider all these consequences of smoking. Then, when you watch a smoker you will feel pity for them, not envy. Consider the life he or she is living compared to the simpler, happier, and healthier life you have had since you broke free from your addiction. Consider all this and you will NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!