Why do I smoke?
If you learn the answer to this question, it will be easier to stop smoking. Knowing why you smoke will help you find ways to make up for the things you may miss when you stop. Most people smoke for different reasons at different times. Reasons for smoking include psychological issues, habits, social pressures and physical dependence on nicotine. The questionnaire that follows will help you decide which reasons are important in your smoking.
The ‘Why Test’
Next to the following statements, mark the number that best describes your own experience. (5=Always, 4=Most of the time, 3=Once in a while, 2=Rarely, 1=Never)
___ A. I smoke to keep myself from slowing down.
___ B. Handling a cigarette is part of the enjoyment of smoking it.
___ C. Smoking is pleasant and relaxing.
___ D. I light up a cigarette when I feel angry about something.
___ E. When I am out of cigarettes, it’s near-torture until I can get more.
___ F. I smoke automatically, without even being aware of it.
___ G. I smoke when people around me are smoking.
___ H. I smoke to perk myself up.
___ I. Part of my enjoyment from smoking is preparing to light up.
___ J. I get pleasure from smoking.
___ K. When I feel uncomfortable or upset, I light up a cigarette.
___ L. When I’m not smoking a cigarette, I’m very much aware of the fact.
___ M. I often light up a cigarette when one is still burning in the ashtray.
___ N. I smoke cigarettes with friends when I am having a good time.
___ O. When I smoke, part of the enjoyment is watching the smoke as I exhale.
___ P. I want a cigarette most often when I am comfortable and relaxed.
___ Q. I smoke when I am “blue” and want to take my mind off what’s bothering me.
___ R. I get a real hunger for a cigarette when I haven’t had one in a while.
___ S. I’ve found a cigarette in my mouth and haven’t remembered it was there.
___ T. I always smoke when I am out with friends at a party, bar, etc.
___ U. I always smoke cigarettes to get a lift.
Now Score Yourself
Step 1: Transfer the numbers you marked on the quiz to the scorecard below by matching up the letters. For example, take the number you wrote for question A on the quiz and enter it on line A of the scorecard.
Step 2: Add each set of 3 scores on the scorecard to get the total for each different category. For example, to find your score on the “It stimulates me” category, add together the scores for questions A, H and U.
The score for each category can range from a low of 3 to a high of 15. A score of 11 or above on any set is high and means that your smoking is probably influenced by that category. A score of 7 or below is low and means that this category is not a primary source of satisfaction to you when you smoke.
‘Why Test’ scorecard
“It stimulates me.” You feel that smoking gives you energy and keeps you going. Think about alternative ways to boost your energy, such as brisk walking or jogging.
___ “Stimulation” Total
“I want something in my hand.” There are a lot of things you can do with your hands without lighting up a cigarette. Try doodling with a pencil, or playing with putty or a fake cigarette.
___ “Handling” Total
“It feels good.” You get a lot of physical pleasure from smoking. Various forms of exercise or other activities can be effective alternatives.
___ “Pleasure/Relaxation” Total
“It’s a crutch.” It can be tough to stop smoking if you find cigarettes comforting in times of stress, but there are many better ways to deal with stress.
___ “Crutch/Tension” Total
“I’m hooked.” In addition to having a psychological addiction to smoking, you may also be physically addicted to nicotine. It’s a hard addiction to break, but it can be done. Talk with your doctor about using nicotine replacement therapy (the gum, patch, inhaler or nasal spray) to control your withdrawal symptoms.
___ “Craving/Addiction” Total
“It’s part of my routine.” If cigarettes are merely part of your routine, stopping should be relatively easy. One key to success is being aware of every cigarette you smoke. Keeping a smoking diary is a good way to do this.
___ “Habit” Total
“I am a social smoker.” You smoke when people around you are smoking and when you are offered cigarettes. It is important for you to avoid these situations until you are confident about being a nonsmoker. If you cannot avoid a situation in which others are smoking, remind them that you are a nonsmoker.
___ “Social Smoker” Total
Now how do I quit?
Hopefully, this quiz has given you some insight into the reasons why you smoke. You can use this information to help yourself stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about how to stop and how to stay tobacco-free.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.