The Psychology Behind Smoking Essay

Smoking has always been a major problem worldwide. I recently listened to a talk hosted in TEDx University of Piraeus by Nasia Davos entitled My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good. The fact sheet by the Smoking Cessation Formula states that Davos is an ex-smoker and a smoking cessation practitioner with an MA in Psychoanalysis. She is a public speaker who has helped thousands of smokers quit. Davos talks about her friend, Melissa, a single mother of two children, who had been smoking for 36 years and was not able to quit despite having developed lung cancer which could possibly lead to premature death. During the talk, the speaker elaborates that one smokes either to enhance one’s present emotional state or to ease a difficult one (Davos, 2018). She claims that engaging in other productive activities can provide the same pleasurable mental high as that obtained from smoking. Davos also states that it is not the nicotine that causes the addiction for smoking, but the certainty of an instant alteration of emotional state caused by the production of dopamine. The latter is a chemical released in the brain that makes one feel good about oneself. Davos illustrates how Melissa successfully quit the habit through self-determination resulting from engaging in creative activities.

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  • Evidence. Smoking is a decision we make either consciously or unconsciously. Melissa kept feeding her self-destructive habit in order to get immediate emotional rewards regardless of concerns for her health or her family. The speaker provides factual evidence to prove that cultivating positive attitudes towards life by advancing self-development, creativity, and enthusiasm can stimulate the same pleasure in the brain as that obtained from smoking. She elaborates that if other activities provide emotional fulfilment it would help smokers stay away from cigarettes. Therefore, cultivating positive personal changes by identifying one’s emotional behaviors, consciousness, and belief can transform one into a happy non-smoker.
  • Warrant. The speaker explained to Melissa that she could only quit the habit if she diverted her mind to other activities that brought about a similar satiety that smoking did. She reiterated the importance of will and determination to engage in more productive activities such as writing for newspapers as a journalist. Furthermore, Davos explains in her talk how smoking behavior is preceded by the thought of smoking and emotional state of an individual. Consequently, engaging in new or exciting activities is important as the resultant positive emotions can effectively alter one’s behavior. Therefore, the talk successfully demonstrates the importance of acknowledging one’s emotional health and behavior to stimulate a positive attitude during cravings for a cigarette.
  • Backing. Further, the speaker’s arguments have been supported by several studies in the field. According to Burns, smoking a cigarette or consuming drugs have the same effect on the brain as learning new hobbies, making new friends, or engaging in productive activities (Burns). Davos also states that the way we react to nicotine cravings depend on one’s conviction to quit the habit.
  • Rebuttal. Nevertheless, it may be a difficult goal to achieve for everyone as many people still indulge in occasional smoking while engaging in new activities for an immediate emotional uplift.
  • Response to Rebuttal. However, a conscious effort and determination on the smoker’s part to pursue similarly pleasurable but productive activities can certainly help overcome the addiction.


  • Evidence. The talk illustrates that smoking is a decision that inevitably boosts our mental thought processes under various circumstances. The main motive behind it is to feel good and relaxed. Besides, I agree with most of the speaker ‘s claims.
  • Rebuttal. However, I disagree with the speaker when she states that the mere thought of smoking will lead a person to continue smoking.
  • Backing. One’s thought or emotional state can be manipulated solely by one’s actions; therefore, the thought of smoking will not possibly lead a person to smoke. According to McIntosh, statistics prove that smokers are heavily dependent on tobacco; therefore, educating them about the associated risks could motivate them to abandon the habit (McIntosh, 2019).
  • Response to Rebuttal. When thoughts and behaviors are manifested in a productive activity, the success rate of quitting smoking increases dramatically. However, the addiction is difficult to eliminate in the absence of a firm and determined belief. Therefore, one should first have the conviction to quit and discipline one’s thoughts, behaviors, and actions to bring about the desired result.
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Davos, Nasia. My TED Talk on Addiction: How to Quit Smoking for Good. Smoking Cessation Formula. 12 Dec. 2018.
Burns, Martha. Social and Emotional Learning. Edutopia.
McIntosh, J. (2014, August 06). Many cancer survivors continue to smoke,’ study shows. Medical News Today. Retrieved from