Smoking and Genetics – Is Smoking Hereditary?

You can stop smoking if smoking is inherited in your genes. Research shows that whilst genetic factors do play a part in smoking behaviour, this is only a small part. Environment, or nurture as well as nature, plays a part too.

Studies of a correlation between smoking and genetic factors have come up with three correlations between smokers and their families:

1. The age they start smoking

2. How likely they are to carry on smoking

3. When they stop smoking

Whilst these factors are significant, they are not huge. In other words, you can quit even if everyone in your family is a smoker.

One of the things that are targeted in quit-smoking programs is the beliefs of the smoker. A belief is a very strong psychological incentive, and can be a strong influence on stop-smoking treatment.

So how do you change a belief? The answer is that cannot change a belief per se, what you can change is that an opinion that was once a belief is no longer so.

A belief is an absolute truth, something that we believe to be true based on all the evidence given to us plus the way we have stacked up this evidence in a logical order. Now logic is like building a wall. First you have one brick, then you have another, then another, building brick upon brick till you have a wall. The strength of this wall depends on how good the bricks are. What if there was a brick somewhere near the bottom that was flawed? Remove this brick, and the wall collapses. Take all the good bricks, build again, and you have a much stronger wall in place.

Using methods like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), the belief that “I am a smoker because all my family are smokers” can be shown to be merely a flawed opinion. This is replaced by the stronger wall which says “My family are smokers, I choose to render these genes ineffective and become a non-smoker”.

Along with genes leading to flawed opinions, one is exposed to family emotions and family temptations. For instance, if parents were harsh in the treatment of a smoker growing up, who then was encouraged to smoke on every visit to relatives, this of course influences the smoking desire. A person with an unhappy or less educated background is more likely to smoke, and having cigarettes all around this person reinforces the smoking behaviour.

The good news is that using methods like EFT, unhappiness can be lifted out of your system. When there is no longer the need to drug unhappiness, the desire for smoking reduces considerably.

What remains is a simple program that covers the following:

A. Education about the dangers of smoking and the true joys of natural living

B. Options that involve something more exciting than being around smokers

C. Behavioral coaching for situations where one is surrounded by smokers

Whilst this may mean more than one quick session for smoking cessation, a structured program like this is more likely to produce long-lasting results and true freedom for good. All I can say is that if you are an ex-smoker-to-be, you can succeed. It is merely the route to success that changes. True success feels good whatever route you take to it and whatever genes you have inherited.

References about smoking and a genetic link:

Uhl, G.R.; Gold, L.H.; and Risch, N. Genetic analyses of complex behavioral disorders.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94:2785-2786, 1997.

KS KENDLER, PS MC NEALE, COG LA COREY, CA PRESCOTT A population-based twin study in women of smoking initiation and nicotine dependence Psychological Medicine, 1999 – Page 1. Psychological Medicine, 1999, 29, 299-308.

Personality and the inheritance of smoking behavior: A genetic perspective, Behavior Genetics, Springer Netherlands, ISSN 1573-3297 (Online), Behavioral Science, Issue Volume 25, 1995, Pages 103-117.