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Are You a Secret Smoker?

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When we read this recent post about this mother's "secret from her toddler," we wondered how many of you relate.

woman smoking with child

Single Mom Seeking: "I have a confession," wrote this mom. "Every once in a while I like to have myself a nice smoke. And so far, my toddler has no clue."

But we're curious. That's why we reached out to Daniel F. Seidman, director of Smoking Cessation Services at Columbia University Medical Center and author of a new book, Smoke-Free in 30 Days.

"Yes, I am seeing both mothers of young children and pregnant smokers who carry a burden of guilt over their secret smoking," Dr. Seidman says.

"For example, one woman was smoking during her pregnancy. She was extremely guilty, especially when she was lying to her own mother about how she had already quit. Another example is a woman with young children who never smoked around them or let them see her smoke."

Indeed, the momlogic blogger confessed: "I smoke outside when she's asleep. I've smoked when she's fallen asleep in our car in our driveway. I've had friends play with her as I sneak out back to sneak a smoke. Up until now, she's been completely shielded from my secret."

"Smoking has been severely stigmatized in our society, so many smokers now go underground and live in a bunker about it," Dr. Seidman explains.

"It is well-known that children of mothers who smoke are more likely to take it up themselves and to get certain illnesses. By some estimates, a child smokes the equivalent of a whole cigarette for every four the mother smokes around her.

"In particular, children's asthma has been shown to be caused by a mother's smoking, and worsened by it as well. Talk about a burden of guilt. Who wants to live with that?!"

So, what can you do?

Dr. Seidman has some great suggestions to help you quit:

"Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can make it easier to quit, but make sure you start out at the right dosage. Each kind of NRT has its own unique way of delivering nicotine. My book gives a full explanation of how best to use each kind of NRT, and the pros and cons of each method (patch, gum, inhaler, etc.). NRT can be a great confidence builder for smokers who are avoiding quitting out of fear of failure.

"Finally, take some time to consider how you will deal with the three most common 'triggers' to smoke once you go smoke-free." These are:

  • dealing with other smokers in your life;
  • drinking alcohol;
  • when you get upset.

If you're a secret smoker, we'd love to hear from you. If you used to smoke and quit ... how did you do it?

next: Does Eating Fish Make Kids Smarter?
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
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Heather February 1, 2010, 11:15 PM

I am a smoker and not quite secret. I do smoke outside as I have since I started smoking when I was 8 years old.

I have tried quitting numerous times. Most smoking cessations aides I am allergic to, including chantix, gums, patches. So it’d have to be cold turkey. I NEVER make it past day four.

But i keep trying :)

Electric Monkey February 2, 2010, 7:39 AM

And so far, my toddler has no clue.” I don’t believe it for a second. These toddlers are smarter then you think.

Miche February 18, 2010, 1:46 PM

I’ve been smoke free for almost 3 months and was previously a secret smoker. I felt guilty for even smelling like smoke. Our family eats only organic foods and we’ve been trying to have a more eco-friendly life style. Smoking made everything we did hypocritical, so one day I just quit- cold turkey. It was hard, but well worth it! Living guilt free is much easier. :)

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