Although everyone is aware of the health risks associated with smoking, people are still reluctant to quit. However, with that being said, there has now been a stigma attached to smoking, and I have found that this, in turn, has developed a new generation of what I like to call “closet smokers.”
With all the propaganda of quitting smoking, and “no smoking” areas, along with receiving a lecture about smoking most often the smoker finds it easier to just deny that they smoke. I think the fear of being labeled as not healthy, or as a “bad parent” are just a few examples of why individuals would deny the fact that they smoke. And this only adds to the already built stigma attached to this addiction. This is yet another perfect example on how society has again dictated on what and how our behaviors will be altered to better suit our culture.
I have friends and co-workers that currently smoke. I know they do but if I was to pose the question to them they would deny it. I am sure they all have their own reasons but who am I to pry. Everyone needs to be accountable for their own actions, and maybe denying the fact about smoking may make someone think that it is helping it really doesn’t. It still does not change the fact that they are still a smoker.
With that stated I can absolutely see the rationale of why someone would deny it. Especially, if admitting to smoking will only increase stress levels which in turn increases your desire to smoke, or if it will have an impact on your daily living with either your home or work place. However, this does not imply that I justify that denying this habit is OK. I cannot nor does anyone have the ability to make someone say the truth. Yet there are times when I think that is essential to be honest.
As a health care practitioner this has actually become more frustrating in counseling patients. I have now found that many patients are for whatever reason denying a smoking history. During a physical exam it is very appropriate to admit to smoking, this is important to properly assess any other health risks and to also properly educate in ways to try and quit smoking. However, this is difficult to do when the patient blatantly states that they do not smoke even though it is obviously on their breath and clothing.
This has become so much more frequent that I have had to go as far as almost interrogating individuals just to find out about a smoking history. I am in no position to make a judgment or be bias in a case like this. I only wish to help and to properly diagnose and treat based on an accurate history. And ultimately I do take pride in education and possibly giving out suggestions on making healthier choices.
In conclusion, if you are or know someone that is a closet smoker please remember that there are many health risks attached to smoking. And that being honest with your health care provider is really important in better accessing with a diagnosis and treatment. This is also a great time to obtain information without prejudice on programs or wellness education to help in quitting the habit of smoking.