Despite all the millions spent on comparing the potentially harmful effects of different brands of cigarettes, our respondents seemed very little concerned about this matter. But all of them, even those who do not smoke excessively, worry about the quantities they smoke.
Scientific and medical studies on the physiological effects of smoking provide a confused picture: Some conclude that smoking is harmful; others deny it. This same confusion prevails among smokers themselves.
Nevertheless, all of them worry about smoking too many cigarettes, as shown by the fact that nearly everyone has tried, at one time or another, to “cut down on” smoking. “I’ll tell you something I do,” one smoker confided. “I give up smoking cigarettes every year for one month, and I say to myself that I’ll prove to myself I can still do without them.”
Periodic abstemiousness of this kind indicates an underlying feeling of guilt. Such individuals really think that constant smoking is not only harmful, but also a bit immoral. Efforts to reduce the amount of smoking signify a willingness to sacrifice pleasure in order to assuage their feeling of guilt.
The mind has a powerful influence on the body, and may produce symptoms of physical illness. Guilt feelings may cause harmful physical effects not at all caused by the cigarettes used, which may be extremely mild. Such guilt feelings alone may be the real cause of the injurious consequences.