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Discussion, comments and links related to Joel Spitzer's cold turkey quit smoking videos

Watching others smoke

Recently, a successful graduate called me complaining that she needed a cigarette. When I inquired as to why she needed to smoke, she said that there were many problems at work and she felt that a cigarette would calm her down and make her better able to cope with the current sutuation. She went on to explain that the woman who sits across from her is always smoking which futher enhances her cravings to take a cigarette.

I asked her to describe the lady who was always smoking around her. She said, “She is a co-worker who is really neurotic. She is always a nervous wreck. We have the same boss, and he is the source of much of our tension.”

There seemed to be a great inconsistency in her story. She needed to smoke so she could calm down. She saw this lady smoking which made her feel the need to smoke even more. I could understand if her smoking companion was always calm and tranquil when confronted with unbearable stress. But to the contrary, “She was NEUROTIC”. It was apparent in her case that cigarettes were not an effective stress reducing technique. Upon realizing the simple inconsistency in her story, she laughed and realized that cigarettes were no answer to dealing with her stress.

Often when an ex-smoker sees another person smoking, they wish they too could have a cigarette. They may automatically think how much the person is enjoying that cigarette. The fact often is that the person may not like the particular cigarette or even realize they are smoking it. They are simply maintaining a deadly addiction, trying to avoid nicotine withdrawal.

Ex-smokers should consider how while they were still smoking they used to envy people who quit cigarettes. No matter which situation you are in, a smoker observing an ex-smoker or visa versa, the other side has its appeal. The ex-smoker has the great advantage. The ex-smoker can go back to smoking any time she wishes. The smoker cannot always quit. The ex-smoker will go hours, days and eventually weeks without thinking of a cigarette. The smoker is constantly reminded by family, friends and associates of their socially offensive habit.

So, next time you observe a helpless smoker maintaining this deadly habit, have pity on them. If they ask how you kicked it, share with them the philosophies we taught you. That may be all the assistance they need. If they need more help, they can always come to see us.

We wish you luck in helping those closest to you quit this dangerous addiction. Once they break free, always reinforce the one concept which can guarantee continued success in staying free from cigarettes. Make sure they understand to Never Take Another Puff.


Ex-smokers are often 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 had spend 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 often fantasizes 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!


The Palmolive Bottle smoking demonstration.


Again you can see how the smoke had darkened the bottle after about a few hundred cigarettes. You can start to see how the smoker’s lungs below became so discolored. Smokers don’t just put a total of a few hundred cigarettes in their system; they literally deliver hundreds of thousands of cigarettes over their shortened lifetime. This discoloration effect is more than just aesthetically unpleasant–it is in fact deadly.

This picture looks like it was an exhalation after about 10 previous exhalations, not that much is seen in this particular photo. I normally get a tremendous amount of smoke out of the bottle with every drag, normally we can smoke up a room with one cigarette. If you look at the mouthpiece of the bottle, it is almost solid brown with tar. It used to be clear. I have used this bottle with somewhere between 300 and 400 cigarettes. While that may sound like a lot, most people smokemore than that in any given month. Even the bottle is pretty yellow and I blow out almost all of the smoke used when it inhales. The bottle is dry allowing me to do this, your lungs are moist trapping most of the tars when inhaled. Literally over 90% of the tar that is inhaled stays in the lung, when you see a person exhale they are literally blowing out about 10% of the smoke.

When viewed this way, even one puff seems disgusting to most people. While the bottle may appear brown from just a few hundred cigarettes, lungs get browner and the discoloration poses much more than just a risk of looking bad. The 4,000 chemicals that turn the lungs brown are downright deadly, as can be seen in the photos below.


Non smokers lung with carbon deposits from pollution


Smokers lung with cancer. White area on top is the cancer, this is what killed the person. The blackened area is just the deposit of tars that all smokers paint into their lungs with every puff they take.

To add a little more perspective to the demonstration, here is another way to see how much tar actually gets into the lungs from smoking. Below is the picture of a smoking machine.


This machine smokes 2,000 cigarettes a day, mimicking smokers puffing patterns to capture equivalent amounts of tar as would a smoker. In one day the machine captures the amount of smoke in the picture below.


This is the same amount a pack a day smoker will paint in his or her lungs in a little over three months. You can see why the lungs are so discolored. But again, the discoloration is a minor issue. It is not that the lungs look altered, it is the fact that there are thousands of chemical being deposited with over 40 that are cancer causing chemicals. Again, keep seeing cigarettes for as they are and your logical choice will be to always never take another puff!

As long as I am bringing this one up again, figured I would add another dimension to the story. The bottle above with the tar collected from 2,000 cigarettes. If a dilute form (dilute, not concentrated is as often done in animal experimentation to demostrate that chemicals are carcinogens) of this tar is painted on the skin of mice, 60% of the animals developed cancer of the skin within a year.


Many chemicals currently banned for human consumption were removed from usage if they even caused 5% or less cases of cancer in similar experiments. Cigarette tars contain some of the most carcinogenic chemicals known. Consider this when watching people smoking and exhaling only 10% of the tars they actually take in. Watch them smoke and it will strengthen your resolve to never take another puff!


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© Joel Spitzer 2018
Reformatted 07/08/18 by John R. Polito