Even watching smokers in a movie may stimulate smoking

Health Care, Social Health Community 142 Comments

An international study published in Neuropsychopharmacology has shown that even watching someone smoke is harmful proving further that smoking is contagious.

When smokers anticipate having a cigarette their brain is affected more by the external cues, such as seeing someone else smoking, then by the degree of craving or how long they have gone without a cigarette.

In the study Canadian doctors did the functional MRI scan of the brain of 20 smokers. 10 of them were told that they could smoke immediately after the MRI and the rest 10 were told that they cannot smoke for the next four hours.

While undergoing brain scan they were shown video tapes of people lighting cigarette, smoking or blowing smoke rings. There was a significant difference in the findings in the two groups. Functional MRI of the brain of people who anticipated having a cigarette immediately after the scan were associated with changes in the arousal, attention and cognitive control of the brain. On the other hand, no such changes were noticed in the other group.

The study clearly shows that any external environment can influence and change the chemistry inside the body and if the change coincides with the right atmosphere, the person may end up actually doing the same act. Many studies have shown that not only anger and desires but even their recall can change the physical and mental reactions of the body.

It is a common fact that while watching a movie if the character weeps, we also weep. Same neurochemical changes occur in our body as they occur in the character playing the role, provided we are in a complete phase of relaxation.

The principle of hypnosis is also based on this that in a relaxed body, the state of mind becomes suggestive and changes its biochemistry according to the suggestion in question.

This observation has a therapeutic spiritual significance. Those who want to quit smoking or drinking will have to live in an atmosphere which does not trigger smoking or alcoholism. A no-smoking zone therefore should include non availability of cigarettes and no smoking audiovisual area.

In Vedic literature too this principle has been well described in yoga sutras of Patanjali under eight limbs of yoga, which are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayam, Pratihaara, Dharna, Dhyaan and Samadhi.

Pratihaara, which is in between pranayama and start of meditation process called dharna involves creating spiritual atmosphere, detaching oneself from the outer stimuli and preparing for the inner journey.

In Ramayana, Pratihaara is represented by the killing of Bali by Rama. Sugriva there represents intellect and Bali represents lust. The intellect cannot kill lust from the front. Sugriva could not kill Bali when they fought with each other. Bali was only killed by Rama, the consciousness, from behind and not from the front indicating that one cannot stop smoking or drinking alcohol if the same are kept in front of them.

For de-addiction programmes, therefore, there are two important steps. Firstly, not to have the abusable substance available and secondly, to avoid any direct or indirect environment where we can be influenced by others who are smoking or drinking or indulging into substance abuse.

If both these factors are present it is unlikely that any person will be able to resist from indulging in substance abuse.