I’m sure that any time you tried to quit smoking you quickly discovered just how long, you can go between cigarettes.
An interesting study involving Israeli flight attendants offered some curious insights.
Flight attendants were selected for two major routes. One from Tel Aviv to Europe, taking 3 hours and the other flying to New York a time of 11 hours.
I ask my clients to guess how long the various flight attendants could go before wanting a smoke. The answers are variable but usually focus on the short-term.
The study results tell a different, but consistent result.
Those on the 3-hour European flight on average started to want a cigarette 20 minutes before the flight landed.
Those on the 11-hour New York flight on average started to want a cigarette 20 minutes before the flight landed.
But how is this possible, I hear you thinking. The result showed that it wasn’t the length of time the attendants were without nicotine, but the time before they expected to be able to smoke.
Apart from delays in landing, they could calculate from experience how long it takes to land, disembark and be able to exit the airport.
So the difference is the story they told themselves. i.e. I can smoke in about three and a half hours or I can smoke in about eleven and a half hours.
The point is it’s the story and not the nicotine or their brain receptors, e time which controlled the timing of craving.
If you were to calculate the time between your cigarettes, you would find that it was your schedule, which dictated your smoking and not your cravings.
Many clients have told me they would expect to smoke less on a holiday because of lack of work stress, but instead they smoke more, just because they can.
Many tell me they must smoke every two hours but can survive a long flight just fine. Some may have a brief craving but it goes quickly simply because they have no option.
So what about you? How long can you manage without a cigarette if you have to, or how short a time will you allow between smokes if you have no restrictions. And what does this tell you about your habit and your addictions.
If you really think about it for awhile, surely you must be confused by this drug that has a specific life in your bloodstream yet behaves so differently in all kinds of circumstances.