20 years of public service

Whether you want to stop smoking or you would prefer the option of becoming a light smoker, we can help you. If you want us to help you to stop completely, you will find a range of aids and programmes on the left here. If you want to explore becoming a light smoker, you will see those aids and programmes on the right.

From The NSCI Stop-Smoking Handbook, with Robert Brynin

"I defined addiction in the last tutorial as a physiological need in the body for a poison that it was forced to adapt to, and I stressed, in case you have already forgotten, as if I would let you, that the addiction cannot be psychological. In other words, it can't be in your mind.

A simple definition of psychological dependence is that it is everything else. It encompasses every reason you can't stop smoking, other than your addiction to nicotine.

I'll come in a moment to exactly what that entails, but I want to emphasise before I go any further that you could not become psychologically dependent on smoking if smoking didn't give you nicotine. Try to imagine a heroin user claiming they love taking heroin because they have a thing about needles. Needles are the delivery method for the drug. They know that and you know it. But when it comes to smoking that knowledge gets reversed. Smokers imagine that what they love is the act of smoking, the lighting of a cigarette and inhaling the product of combustion of tobacco, the gases and tar going down their throat and into their lungs.

Psychological dependence produces what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, which means as far as we are concerned here that you know something is not true but you need it to be true so you make yourself believe it.

You know you don't have a valid argument for why you smoke so you invent one, the main ones being that you are stressed or that you enjoy it. In this Handbook I comprehensively destroy the possibility of either of those beliefs being true, but such is the grip that the addiction to nicotine has on your brain that you will read what I say, nod and say to yourself oh yes, he's quite right of course, and then you will look for a way to ignore it.

When I talk about nicotine turning your brain to mush, this is more or less what I mean. What can you do about that? Well, you have already started doing something about it, because you are reading this and absorbing what I'm saying and you are beginning to think it's important to stop tobacco controlling your brain. I hope."