A behavioral change technique in smoking is a theory or a technique that involves the psychological theory and psychotherapy techniques. This cognitive behavior therapy is employed to create a more conducive environment that helps to change dysfunctional reactions and to create the behaviors that are adoptive. This paper seeks to discuss and analyze these techniques.

Behavior Change Techniques in Smoking

Smoking is a behavior, whereby the tobacco or the cannabis substances are burned and inhaled. Most of smokers start such behavior at their adolescence stage or at the early adulthood stage of their life. Smoking is the behavior that commonly starts because of the peer pressure. The personal and social factors are likely to cause smoking among most of people.  However, according to psychologists, the smoking behavior is a result of the operant conditioning. The rewards’ behavior change technique is applicable to reduce the negative behavior of smoking (Brain, 2002).

The reward behavior change technique is applied for changing the behaviors of any smoker due to the fact that after he or she has been smoking for a long time, the main motivations for the individual include: the symptoms of withdrawal and the negative reinforcement. In smoking, the operant conditioning theory is associated with the behavior changes in smoking. This theory entails operating on the environment in the precise ways rewarding various precise behaviors that are in the individual’s environment in hope of changing the smoking behaviors. The reward assurance usually generates a positive reinforcement for smoking behaviors (Brain, 2002). It is important to note that human beings easily adopt and get accustomed in order to communicate and socialize. The smoking behavioral patterns are influenced by environmental settings.

The operant conditioning theory entails the use of the rewards’ decrease the behavior of smoking. Smokers can either be rewarded by the two ways, namely: the positive rewards that involve the provision of something that is of pleasure to the smoking behavior or a negative reward that entails the removal of something being usually unpleasant to the smoking behavior. The positive and negative factors can become reliable in the operant conditioning theory.  In order to ensure that this technique works, the nonsmoking behavior is rewarded for a long period with the smokers consent. The theoretical approach in this case is a very efficient approach that focuses on the smokers’ relationship with other people and the health behaviors. This approach involves the use of quantitative and qualitative techniques to encourage the nonsmoking health behaviors being rewarding to the persons involved. Thus, the rewarding technique for non smoking in the operant condition theory applies the following methods: contingency contracting, self rewarding and self punishment (Rebecca, 2004).

Contingency Contracting

This is one of the easiest and simplest operant conditioning methods. This entails an agreement made between a smoker and a person who is close to the smoker. The person might be a relative, a wife, a husband or a friend. The set person as agreed makes a reward and consequences for either nonsmoking or for smoking. One of the commonly used approaches in the rewarding method is giving the individuals large sums of money for not smoking. This process is done on a weekly basis in order to motivate for nonsmoking. This process ensures that the smoker does not lose hope as a result of waiting too long for the reward. For every week that the individual completes without smoking, he or she is given the large sums of money as the reward for their behavior change. The reward money acts as the reinforcement to the smoker for nonsmoking. As a result, the smoker puts more efforts not to smoke the following week in order to receive the money at the end of the consecutive week. If the individual slips up and smokes, he or she doesn’t receive the salary for this week and that serves as a negative punishment for smoking (Rebecca, 2004).


This method is largely applicable in the settings, whereby the smoker has the willpower, the smoker devices the structure of rewards for him/her to quit smoking. This system involves such activities as the smoker doing his or her favorite task when not smoking. The other activities involved are watching movies, going to social places where smoking is not allowed or visiting a gym in order to stay active. In case the smoker slips up and smokes, the smoker is supposed to deny him/her from the selected privilege of that specific day. The individual comes up with his own agreement before starting the self rewarding procedure. This plan is effective because it clearly points out the precise reward to be relieved for every day and every week passing without smoking and, thus, has to be adhered to (Rebecca, 2004).


The self punishment method entails an immediate punishment that is effective in helping the individual to unlearn the behavior of smoking. One of the best methods is wearing of a rubber band on the wrist in all times. If the individual finds himself smoking, he should snap it against the wrist in a painful way after lighting a cigarette and after finishing it. This is one of the unpleasant consequences ofe smoking behavior. It is a mode of pain that makes the smoker less interested in smoking. The other method is deprivation of something that the smoker likes doing while smoking as similar to listening to music at an iPod with earphones. For instance, if the smoker has a habit of wearing earphones while smoking, he/she should deprive himself of this habit for a certain period if he is going to smoke (Myers, 2004).

Hypnosis and Smoking

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Most clinicians use the hypnotic reward methods or punishment to help smokers changing their smoking behavior. This is also based on the operant conditioning theory. Smokers are in the imaginative way associating cigarettes to repulsive sensations such as kitchen chimneys, smelly mouths, and cancer. This theory has been known to be effective as rewarding encourages the smoker to think that he or she will lose the need to smoke and cope well during the withdrawal smoking era. Most of smokers go to treatment with the concept that the hypnosis will wipe out the needs to smoke; and they think that this happens with one visit. On the contrary, the reward technique requires one to have the self-discipline, consistency, and patience. The biggest reward that a human being can be promised is the entire life full of good health. For this reason, Spiegel’s model recognizes the smoking pleasure (Rebecca, 2004). This model insists that smokers should focus on three major ideas as the life span rewards. Firstly, cigarettes are the poison to one’s body; secondly, an individual needs his or her body to live, and, finally, the extent to which the individual wants the body to live longer, and protection and respect that the body needs to get. The above is referred to as the self-hypnosis, and smokers are encouraged to repeat the three ideas after every two or three hours or any time that they develop a need to light a cigarette. The implied hypothesis of this technique is that the motivation is the most important variable in the smoking cessation and that focusing on the protection of taking care of the body and life, in general, is a great incentive for one’s self-discipline. According to various studies that were carried out in the United States using the reward technique and its associated theories on the behavior change, approximately 45 percent of smokers were abstinent from smoking for eleven months, 20-25 percent were abstinent for six months, and 13 percent gave up while another 18 percent reduced their smoking behaviors in three months (Myers, 2004).

In the randomized proscribed studies on smoking, hypnosis has been tested alongside forced smoking and other related behaviors such s counseling, relaxation, acupuncture, waking suggestion, and desensitization. The treatments are offered for an individual session or a group session. The results of these meeting sessions have in most cases been fruitful. This is because this technique changes the smoking behavior from one’s inner self. Among the controlled smoking behavior change studies and researches, the most famous hypnotic strategy is Spiegel’s method (Pinel, 2010).

According to Viswesvaran and Schmidt (1993), the rewarding technique is effective in controlling and changing the smoking behavior into human behaviors as per the following carried out studies. A conducted meta-analysis on 48 accessible studies on the smoking cessation that used hypnosis and came out with a smoking quit rate of 36 percent. These results were stronger in comparison to other quit rates of programs that had limited the treatment to the medical prescriptions only. In the prescribed treatment devoted to smoking, only about 13 percent quit smoking. In another meta-analysis study that involved nine randomized proscribed trials of the hypnotic intrusion in the examined subject collection, control and contrast groups, the outcome measures, and other practical matters. In comparison to the advice, psychiatric help, and group psychotherapy, these authors concluded that the hypnosis method showed a significant treatment effect on the change in the smoking behavior (Sandra & Wendy, 2011). However, this was not an implication that the method had had the dominance over other techniques of the smoking cessation.

Learning Theory and Smoking

The learning theory is the evidence of the efficiency of the rewarding behavior change technique in smoking. The assumption that underlies the use of such behavioral theories as the operant conditioning theory and smoking cessation is based on the fact that smoking is a learned behavior and is, therefore, a subject of the learning theory. Just like the human being’s understanding and interpretation, the advertising industry devoted to cigarettes majors on psychological aspects of the individual. Sex and food are the two of the most psychologically strong stimuli; as a result, most of the cigarette advertisers associate smoking with sex, food, or other pleasures and needs of human beings. The pleasure associated with smoking in some of the advertisements include the good lifestyle and leisure, moments of intimacy , super masculinity, liberated femininity, and other “cool” images that have all been associated with smoking. The primary objective of an advert is to make the essentially unpleasant and harmful stuff as extensively appealing to customers (Monica, 2011).

Physiologically, the nicotine stimulation is most of all being a positive reinforcement for smokers being fatigued and those that get the improved alertness and concentration as they have used the drug. Contrary, the smoking of cigarettes acts as a strong negative reinforcement for the individuals that are being depressed and anxious. These escapes are usually a result of the neurological mechanism and partially a result if the smoker wants to distract the mind from all the negative moods (Leichsenring, 2003).

When the smoking behavior happens as a regular mode in the company of certain “rewarding” stimuli, these situations usually become as the discriminative stimuli or prompt to smoking. Such situation can be as recognizable as the view of an ashtray to another person who is smoking, or as the sense of the cigarettes pack. For many smokers, the psychological circumstances are usually a controlling factor of their behavior as an addictive property of nicotine in its capability to possess the smoker’s brain and to stimulate a craving to cigarettes. Behavioral treatments for the smoking cessation illustrate the operant theoretical situation in an attempt to break associations between cigarettes and pleasant actions and to change the behavioral contingency. Operant principles are employed to encourage smokers to watch their behavior to recognize and change both the emotional and ecological cues that activate the need to smoke together with the reinforcements that support the smoking behavior (Mark, 2010).


The adaptation of the specific behavioral change can be influenced by the rationale emotive behavioral therapy. In this case, a behavioral analysis is used to analyze some environmental contingencies and conditions in order to minimize punishments and maximize rewards. In this way, the environment is engineered to maintain an appropriate behavior by administering punishments and rewards.

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