If you have a pack of cigarettes in your pocket ...

    But if there is a pack of cigarettes in your pocket, then
    everything is not so bad today.
    This is a famous phrase from the famous song of Viktor Tsoi. The song, it seems, is not about smoking at all, but not so long ago I realized - only a smoker could write like that. I don’t know and probably never will know what Viktor Tsoi had in mind, but the meaning of this phrase reached me about a year ago.

    This phrase contains one of the main features of smoking and its impact on the human psyche and values. You can ignore this feature or reject it, but I propose to look at it in more detail and use it for my own purposes. I closely watched the effect of smoking on my brain throughout the year, I hasten to share the results.

    Smoker's passport

    If you have been to the Czech Republic, then you probably heard - there is the so-called “Beer passport”. This is a piece of paper that you can buy and carry around with you in bars, and require stamping in each, such as “I was here”.

    Smokers do not have passports, but so that you do not have doubts about my competence, I will tell you a little about my tobacco adventures.

    So, I smoke almost without interruption for 18 years. I started when I was 17 years old, I remember exactly that time - university, the end of the first year, session, summer, dorm, just three exams, I already passed the first, before the second - a week, there’s nothing to do, the cat wept, and the roommate smoked . He shot a cigarette, tried it. I got used to it quickly, almost immediately, and after a couple of days I bought my first “Balkan” in a soft pack.

    Well, then - the usual story of an ordinary smoker. The first years he simply smoked and did not steam. Then he began to wonder whether to quit? I tried several times, mostly unsuccessfully, sometimes I didn’t smoke for several months, but the habit returned every time.


    A year ago, in March 2018, I again tried to quit smoking. It turned out very unsuccessfully - I did it before the holidays, as a result of greatly spoiling my impressions of the rest. He lasted a week, but after returning to work he started smoking again. He made a second mistake - he smoked secretly from his family, only at work. It’s not that they would swear much, I just announced to them that I had abandoned them, and somehow it was dumb to admit my own weakness.

    Then I noticed this damn feature - everything in life was dim before the opportunity to smoke. Smoking took an honorable first place in the value system. And everything else faded into the background.

    I almost became indifferent to my own appearance, life goals, food, rest, relationships with people, self-development - in general, everything except smoking. To myself, I already looked like a complete drug addict.

    The only thing that went more or less was work. Exactly for one reason - at work I smoked like a steam locomotive. If before I smoked a pack in about 26 hours, now I planted it in one working day. At home, in the evening, I hung about without a goal, performing, like a robot, some duties and expecting only one thing - in the morning and arrival at work. By evening, I was already physically unable to smoke, I hated both myself and my habit, but still stuffed myself as much as possible, up to the point that in the end, standing near the car, I smoked two cigarettes in a row. I knew that in an hour the discomfort would pass, and again I would wait for the opportunity to smoke.

    Such a tough regime made itself felt - I wanted to smoke more and more. As a result, he could not stand it, went through humiliation and started smoking “officially” again.

    Smoking has ceased to be the number one value, but, to my surprise, it has not returned to its former place somewhere at the end of the list. It continued to significantly affect motivation, attitudes towards life, work, goals and self-development.

    Well, then it dawned on me. Smoking always stood in the value system very high, I just did not notice it. And that is the problem. About health, there it’s a generally battered stereotype - you don’t value it until you lose it, and then it will be too late.

    The problem is that for 17 years I did not realize that "if there is a pack of cigarettes in your pocket, then everything is not so bad today." And I began to look retrospectively over my many years of smoking experience to see how this habit affected my life. Well, something, somehow, you know, it became uncomfortable.

    Values ​​and Goals

    I'll start with the simple - values ​​and goals. Any person has a certain set of values ​​and goals. For some, the goal is great to buy, someone is daydreaming about his own home, some just have a couple of nine for the evening.

    Accordingly, each has a built-in plan-fact analysis mechanism. At any given time, this analyzer determines whether the movement toward goals is proceeding well, whether values ​​and principles are being followed, and in general - how are you?

    Looking back at my life, I realized that things almost always went well with me. Of course, there were crises, but, usually, it was something out of the ordinary, greatly disrupting the usual course of events, such as the illness of someone from the family, getting into an accident or financial difficulties in the presence of a mortgage. The rest of the time, I had "everything is not so bad today."

    Although, if you look objectively, everything was bad. Of these 17 years, only a few can be considered fit when I at least somehow tried to move and move somewhere. The rest of the time I was fine. The worst thing - I thought I was fine, because I'm fine. But in fact, I just had a smoke.

    Smoking was cozy, warm, alone my refuge from all the hardships of this world. Something does not work? Well, okay, but you can smoke. Did you do a bad job and got a lyuley? And to hell with it, nobody will take away the smoke. Did you fight with your wife? It's time to smoke. Too lazy to work? That's right, horses die from work, it’s better to raise them.

    If you read Allen Carr's book “An Easy Way to Quit Smoking,” then remember how much he reasoned that a cigarette does not relieve stress, does not help to relax or concentrate. Alas, here I do not agree with a respected author.

    It's not that a cigarette does not relax. It eliminates, replaces the very reason why you had to relax. A cigarette easily and imperceptibly replaces any life goal.

    Is it difficult to achieve a goal like job promotion? Well, and do not, better achieve the simpler goal - to smoke. Can’t increase your income? Smoke, it's easier.

    Smoke in this sense is a brilliant product. Firstly, relatively inexpensive, there is a choice for any wallet. Secondly, special conditions are not needed to smoke - just step aside. Compare, for example, with booze - it can not be neither at work, nor at the wheel, nor in the morning. Thirdly, there is almost no momentary impact on the psyche, behavior and adequacy. It doesn’t sway from a smoke, like from a booze, the smell disappears quickly, you can continue to work, even with complex tasks. Fourth, it is very well dosed - you do not need to smoke a pack to get to some condition.

    Smoke is very easy. Everything else in life is more complicated. Therefore, the brain selects a cigarette as its target. Well, then the algorithm is simple: it has reached the goal - and good. The brain is satisfied, and does not want to engage in any other goal.

    When I was a secret smoker, I felt all these processes very sharply. In general, now I'm glad that it happened, and smoking opened for me from such an unexpected side.


    I am a big fan of work efficiency, therefore I can’t ignore the influence of smoking on the purely technical parameters of my own activity.

    The first thing that catches your eye is the time spent on smoking. Let's take a clean time for going to the place, smoking a cigarette, returning to the workplace. Here, of course, depends on the conditions of a particular office.

    Now, to smoke, I need to walk a few meters. The process of smoking a cigarette itself always took me about 3 minutes. A simple calculation shows that I lose 30-60 minutes during the working day.

    I once worked in an office high-rise, inside of which there was not a single smoking room. If you want to raise it, stamp on the street, go around the building and jostle on the dirty, tattered patch with the rest of the lucky ones. And our office was located on the 12th floor. If my memory serves me right, one iteration took 10 minutes, and about 2 hours were running in a working day.

    In winter, i.e. about half a year, by the time you smoke you need to add a minute to dress / undress. In a decent office they did not allow me to hang my jacket on the back of the chair, and I had to drag myself to the closet.

    Next, we add time for the use of SEC - means that support / provoke smoking. In my case, it is coffee and tea. Without SPK, I can’t smoke all day - it just doesn’t fit. For example, on weekends, at home, I sometimes smoke only 3-5 cigarettes per day, and no longer pulls. But at work, everything is different - I want to smoke, but I can’t. Here tea and coffee comes to the rescue.

    Smoking after coffee is a special pleasure. Actually, all the pleasantness is the absence of trouble. Coffee affects receptors so much that tobacco smoke is almost not felt, and is drawn in like air. Tea is worse, and I use it rather to dilute coffee.

    Estimate the difference in quantity. On weekends - one morning cup of tea per day. On weekdays - about ten, in half coffee and tea. Each mug is to go to the kitchen, boil water (if there is no cooler), pour, add sugar, stir, return. A couple of minutes, no less.

    Plus associated losses - frequent trips, sorry for directness, to the toilet. And if there is an old dryer in it, then you can safely add a couple more minutes.

    So, it’s not two, but three hours, if not more. You can safely deduct 40 percent of the working day for a smoke - these are purely technical losses of time.

    You can, of course, reassure yourself that this time is not wasted - I can not just smoke, but think about the task, or discuss some working problems with my colleagues. I do not know about you, but I noticed a long time ago: that’s all crap. Yes, getting up from the table, you are going to think about work. In fact, either you are just talking with someone you know, or you are listening to conversations of strangers, or you’re stupid on the Internet, or you are stupid just like that.

    Yes, I almost forgot - there is still time for unloading from the context and diving back. If you are going to smoke, you do not get up immediately and decisively, but, so to speak, do some sort of nonsense at the end, such as viewing a Facebook feed, checking mail or writing a message in the messenger. Returning to the place, you do the same.

    So, perhaps, after all, 50% of the time is lost.

    I will not discuss the negative impact of smoking on the quality of the thought process, because, alas, I do not have data for analysis. I smoke from the institute, and have never worked as a non-smoker. To compare, for example, smokers and non-smokers, programmers do not make much sense, because non-smoking differences are too large.


    Perhaps the features of smokers can be used for the benefit of the company. This is not the promotion of smoking and the benefits of it, but pure pragmatism: if a person smokes anyway, then why not consider this in management?

    First - do not try to discourage smoking, complicating the process itself. I do not know a single example of someone quitting smoking because the company, for example, has moved the smoking room away. I did not break running from the 12th floor. My smoking colleagues, too. In the same way, we ran through the entire territory of the plant when the smoking room was moved to the backyards.

    The smoker perceives such events as a challenge. He cannot quit, or smoke less, because it turns out that he was “defeated”. It will freeze, squish in new sneakers in dirty puddles, endure arrogant looks, but continue to smoke. And the company will simply spend more time for employees.

    They say that the option of a complete ban on smoking works well. I can not say anything about this - I have not seen such examples live.

    When working with a smoker, it is possible to take into account his reduced criticality to what is happening and all its manifestations. A tobacco lover is not as important an increase as a non-smoker. The refusal to increase salaries, he will react more simply. The discomfort of the workplace will less confuse him.

    But there is a downside. The smoker will be less likely to pursue the goals that the company sets. It shakes the quality of the manufactured product less. He will not soar so much if something breaks.

    But due to the lack of coffee, he will be much more upset. It’s better not to experiment with this. Although the devil knows him. Maybe there will be less smoke without coffee?

    It is worth considering the special communication between smokers. As a rule, they all know each other, because periodically shoot cigarettes and lighters. They may not know the name and position, but a common habit makes them a kind of community.

    Well, do not forget about the constant guilt of the smoker. Almost everyone has it. I am ashamed of myself, my family, my parents, my boss, society, random passive smokers, interlocutors who inhale the aroma of a smoked cigarette. I don’t know, however, how to use this guilt - here we need manipulation skills. But I have a firm belief that someone once manipulated me on this topic.


    When talking about the dangers of smoking, they usually mean health effects. Of course, I do not question the facts revealed by numerous scientific studies. But there is, as they say, grief from the mind. The brain of an engineer does not want to take a word; he wants to see for himself. Preferably - based on an experiment. Ideally, above itself, as over the most controlled object.

    I, like most smokers, of course, annoying the potential health damage, but not so much as to quit. But I could not find other good reasons for the decisive step.
    And now I’ve found it. I saw that half my life I lived half-heartedly. Satisfied with the minimum, sought the most affordable, wanted the simplest, because "If you have a pack of cigarettes in your pocket, then everything is not so bad today."

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