Situational Smoking – Do Places You Regularly Smoke at Make You Want to Smoke There Again?

situational smoking

Does where you smoke matter?

Have you ever been in a place, or been doing an activity, at which you have regularly smoked in the past and really felt like lighting up again, even if you’ve vowed to quit?  Then you’ve experienced the effects of Situational Smoking.  The thing is, it’s not just an association in your mind; recent research suggests that it is your brain getting ready for an infusion of your drug of choice – nicotine.

I expect every smoker that has quit feels this way at one time or another.  You are in your favorite chair, or in the car in a traffic snarl, or relaxing after some intimate time with your partner, in general a place or an activity that your mind strongly associates with smoking.  Have a think about it.  You’ll probably find at least one, but more likely several.  A favorite doorway outside work, a food or drink that you associate with a smoke, or a piece of furniture that you‘ve regularly occupied when smoking.  Whatever it is, you have just discovered a habitual queue that tells your mind you are likely to smoke.

So what is happening in your head at times, or in places like these?  To help you understand the effect, I have to tell you a parallel story that you might have never dreamed could be related; that of junkies dying in alleyways.

Ever wondered why so many heroin users die in alleyways?  Perhaps you think the just go there to shoot up, overdose and die.  Not so.  What would you think if I told you that they have no more heroin in that alleyway than they do at home.  They didn’t die from that dosage at home, so why do they die in the alley?  This comes down to the situational effect again.  Here’s how it plays out.

The user injects say 10 units of heroin to get the buzz they need at home.  They go out to dinner.  Their last buzz wears off, and they want it back before they go clubbing.  They sneak out into the alley behind the restaurant, and hit up with their usual 10 units and it kills them.  Why?

This is the Situational Effect, and you know what, it wasn’t the heroin that killed them, it was their brain.  When you mind associates a place or an activity with the intake of a drug, and you are in that place or undertaking that activity, your brain expects a hit of your drug of choice (and don’t kid yourself, nicotine is a drug of addiction).  So what does your brain do?  It’s depresses your neurotransmitters (specifically the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good) to make you ‘ready’ for the drug.  Some researchers think it’s a protective mechanism to prevent overdose.  Sad thing is, when the drug taker is not in their regular drug taking place or doing the drug-related activity, their brain does not depress their central nervous system (CNS), they go too far on the same dose, and OD.

So that’s what happens to our hapless junkie.  A dose that would have given just the right buzz at home kills them in an unfamiliar location.

Now I’m not suggesting you are a junkie.  You’re a regular person who’s probably having a rough time quitting cigarettes.  But one of the ‘why’s’ that cause this rough time is the Situational Effect.

Whatever this place or activity is, if your mind associates it with smoking then it will cause you to really want to light up when you are there, or when you are doing that activity.

Now our Complete Lung Detoxification Guide recommends that you get away from these places and activities to help you break the association.  Problem is, the research I’ve recently been following suggests that as soon as you do the activity again, or go back to the place that your mind associates with smoking, your brain will down-regulate your CNS and you’ll feel crappy, and want to smoke. This happens even if you’ve been quit for quite a while.  And unfortunately, there is no easy way to get around it.

As we so often state: awareness is the key.  If you are aware that this will happen, you can be ready for it.  This effect is only temporary, lasting from half an hour to several hours, depending on your past levels of smoking.  If you know it is coming, you can be ready for it, and can distract yourself until your neurotransmitters recover.

The good news? The more times you put yourself in your ‘Situational Smoking’ locations, or do the related activities WITHOUT smoking, you’re retraining your brain not to do this anymore. Eventually (and the time this takes will vary from person to person) your brain will lose the association of smoking with that place or activity, and the CNS depression of that situation will decrease, and then disappear entirely.

So keep at it!  Put yourself in your Situational Smoking place/activity when you are feeling strong, and wait it out.  When you do so and you don’t feel like smoking, you’ll know you’ve REALLY beaten the habit that kills millions every year!

Until next time,

stay well, stay quit, and lung-toxin free.

~William Renolds

Customer Correspondence – Anxiety, Coughing up Black Gunk

I know the next post was supposed to be about ‘Situational Smoking,’ but I just wanted to interrupt Bill to tell you about this first.  I received an email from a customer the other day which I’d like to share with those also doing a lung detox or those considering quitting smoking and cleaning up their lungs.  Some of you might find this sounds familiar.


Many thanks for the guide, it is most helpful in many areas.

I am having major panic attacks & anxiety...any ideas?

Also I am coughing up black/brown gunk & its most distressing,

how long will this last.

Both of these problems are fairly common when quitting smoking and cleaning your lungs of the tar and mucus that has built up there due to years of smoking. I responded to this email but thought I would summarize it here for other interested people.


Panic attacks and anxiety can be quite common when quitting smoking. This can be caused by some of the physical aspects of nicotine withdrawal, but the mental aspect of the addiction also plays a large part in these unwanted feelings.  This is the habit in your mind trying to get you to smoke again for the calming habitual action. While you can ask your doctor for some mild anti-anxiety medications to help you deal with this for the short period while you quit, these feelings do not usually last more than a few weeks at most. Also the black gunk he was coughing up may have made him anxious too, but this should not be the case.  It’s actually a good sign!

Black Gunk

This is actually a sign that your lung detoxification is working! The first part of cleaning out the lungs is getting rid of the easily removable mixture of tar and mucus that has built up in your lungs and bronchial tubes due to smoking. Using the methods in the complete lung detoxification guide you should get rid of this gunk quickly. While it is unpleasant, it does you no harm and only shows just how much horrible stuff there was in there … and there is more. This initial expulsion of tar usually lasts only a few days to a week, and then the effects tend to be less distressing.

A follow up email

Hi Mark,

thanks for the reply, i am just leaving work now so wont have e.amil again until

I have quit smoking now & will never smoke again i can assure you of that. 

I have read stress guide & any other would be great. Its just the insominia,

waking up in the middle of the night,panics during the day,it really is awful 

but I hope I will be ok in afew months.

Kind Regards,

If anyone is interested the i mentioned is called “Panic Away” and is one of the most popular guide on the net for this sort of thing. You can also get a few free chapters from thier site.

Visit The Panic Away Official Site

I hope that helps anyone else going through the same thing or wanting to know what to expect!

Mark Freeman

Third Hand Smoke – Why You Need to Detoxify Your Living Spaces AND Your Lungs

third hand smoke

third hand smoke - a danger?

The term ‘Third Hand Smoke’ has been getting a lot of attention recently in publications like Scientific American and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Everyone who’s got any sort of media access has heard of ‘Second Hand Smoke’ by now; that is, cigarette smoke breathed in by people other than the person smoking the cigarette (worst effected being children and babies) that is doing these ‘inadvertently smoking’ individuals damage.  But what you really want to know is, what could this ‘Third Hand Smoke’ be, and how does it affect me and my family?

What is Third Hand Smoke?

Third Hand Smoke is a term given to cigarette smoke residue, laid down over time, that can harm non-smokers that live or spend time in the area that was, or is continuing to be, smoked in.  Anyone who isn’t a smoker can smell when a smoker has been nearby, even if they weren’t smoking.  Stepping into an enclosed space with a smoker, like a lift, can alert a non-smoker to their destructive habit, even if they are not partaking at the time.   Similarly, if a non-smoker steps into a smoker’s house, they can tell immediately that the space has seen heavy smoking activity.  What they can smell is the residue of what could be years of tar deposition within that space.  On the walls, furnishings, and especially the carpets, every surface is coated in Third Hand Smoke.

There is some complex chemistry involved, but besides all the tar chemicals that are damaging your lungs every time you light up, some of the nicotine layered wherever smoking has taken place interacts with gasses given off by your gas appliances (heaters and ovens), or your car exhaust (if you’ve smoked as you drive), to create even more damaging carcinogens (cancer causing compounds).  So you can see that Third Hand Smoke can pose a real threat, but those worst affected are sadly infants and children.

Third Hand Smoke and Infants

Think about it.  Where do infants and young children spend most of their time?  On the floor.  Infants + carpets + years of smoking = bad news.  Infants and small children, due to their proximity to the floor and other surfaces, and their faster breathing, take in about twenty times (20x!!!) more of the particles containing Third Hand Smoking toxins than adults do.  Add to this the infant brain’s susceptibility to damage from very low level toxins, and you are likely to be doing your young children permanent damage.   As Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at the Dana–Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston, says,

“…Studies in rats suggest that tobacco toxin exposure is the leading cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). We think it is [caused by] respiratory suppression…”

So you can see why quitting smoking, and detoxifying not only your lungs, but your entire living spaces, is vitally important for the health of not only yourself, but your family and friends.  Some sources recommend replacement of clothing, furniture, and even internal wall materials to remove all traces of these dangerous carcinogens, however there are several, less expensive actions you can take today to reduce this risk.

How to Get Rid of Third Hand Smoke

  • Dry clean/industrial clean all your clothes, linens and towels. This can get a bit expensive but it’s cheaper than replacing them all.  If they still smell smoky (to a non-smoker, wash again or consider slow replacement).
  • Wash down all the walls with sugar soap. This will help, but it may take several goes to get most of the Third Hand Smoke residue off them.
  • Have all your fabric covered furniture steam cleaned. If it still smells smoky (to an non-smoker) it might be time to start replacing items.
  • Wipe down all wooden and hard furniture with appropriate cleaning solutions. ANY surface can collect Third Hand Smoke.
  • Steam clean ALL carpets and drapes.  Have all hard floors professionally cleaned. Carpets are a massive problem.  Again if they still smell even vaguely smoky it might be worth considering replacement when cleaning third hand smoke

Obviously, get rid of all those butts, ashtrays and all smoking gear.  Needless to say, you want to quit, stay smoking-free, and detox your lungs to make the process complete.

If this has got you worried about the damage your smoking habit may be doing to yourself and your family. Or perhaps you have been a smoker once and now realize just how harmful this habit is and continues to be, (tar and toxins take over a decade to clear out of your lungs!) click below to visit out main page and see what a lung detox can do for you.

Lung Detoxification – How to Clean Tar and Toxins Out of Your Lungs In Months not Years

Next time, we’ll talk about the phenomenon of ‘situational smoking’ and how your brain gets your ready to smoke in locations where you’ve regularly smoked previously.

Until then,

Stay well, stay quit, and get lung-toxin free!

William Renolds