An Indian man once said to me: “The mind is a mad monkey”.
What he was trying to illustrate is that we have less control over our thoughts, emotions and actions than we think. One of the mistakes of enlightenment philosophers was to place too much emphasis on the rational mind. It was elevated to the status of soul. This idea was only undercut by Freud at the turn of the Twentieth Century with his discovery that the rational ego was only the tip opf the iceberg – that nine tenths of our motivation came from the unconscious which by definition we have no control over.
This is relevant to tobacco addiction. People feel that by an act of will they can quit; only to discover that it is not as simple as that. Try an experiment. Try to sit still and stare at a wall for an hour. You can’t read book, watch TV or play a game. You must sit. You will find after 10 minutes how excruciating the experience is. In the West we fidget; we require distractions. We think we are in control, but really we are at the mercy of distractions. One of those distractions being smoking cigarettes.
The fix is difficult. One consumer notion is to replace one habit with another. Stop smoking cigarettes and instead smoke e-cigarettes. Stop smoking and become addicted to eating. There can be no design and engineering solution to addiction. The answer comes not from the outside but from within.
The Indian man that I met spoke of meditation and yoga, of bringing the mad monkey under control. It is only by quiescence through clearing the mind and accepting the now that we can gain a small control of our addictions and nervous ticks. This is a free thing, and cannot be easily marketed. And hence in the West it will remain a rogue idea. But ideas are there to help, to elucidate, not to generate money.