Quite a few taxi drivers smoke during their breaks. Often out of habit, boredom or stress. How can they get rid of their addiction? We talk about this with tobaccoologist Ellen Vandamme from Oostkamp, Belgium. A tobaccoologist or smoking cessation counselor is an expert who helps people get rid of their smoking addiction.
Do you sometimes see taxi drivers smoking a cigarette next to their car?
“Yes, but mainly abroad. In Spain I often see taxi drivers smoking next to the taxi. Often they do it out of habit or boredom, while waiting. Although the social aspect also plays a role. The smokers get together and have a chat.”
Many smoke to reduce stress. How about that?
“Smokers become calmer by pausing and breathing in and out for a while. But actually cigarettes cause more stress. They are addicted to nicotine. The body is crying out for nicotine. The urge is strong and it is difficult to get rid of it.”
Does the fear of gaining weight also play a role?
“Yes, those who smoke eat less. Drivers are often afraid to gain weight. They don’t want to quit smoking because of the weight.”
How do we get rid of cigarettes?
“Put your cigarettes in the trunk to begin with. Then you only smoke consciously. People smoke a lot without thinking about it.”
And what is the next step?
“Make sure your brain is distracted. It is a wave that you have to surf over, so to speak. Look at the non-smokers: how do they handle it? Some occupy themselves with other things during their break by making a puzzle, for example. Others listen to a podcast or learn a language, I say something. If one person stops, they often all stop. They encourage each other.”
Is vaping a good (intermediate) solution?
“Vaping can be a tool. We see that vapers continue to do it. We do not know what the long-term effects of the fillings are. It is also possible to reduce nicotine with medication.”
It is therefore important to get through the breaks in a healthy way. Also in terms of nutrition. Do you have any tips for that?
“Organize yourself and make sure you have healthy food with you. If you have nothing with you and stop along the way, you choose very impulsively. Often your hunger is so great that you no longer make good choices. If you’re already getting physical discomfort, it’s not a good time to choose what to eat. Then you often opt for something more greasy or sugary, such as a coffee cake and soft drinks.”
Regularity is therefore important. Why?
“Learn good habits. Ensure regularity and balance in your meals. Then I think of three main meals and regular snacks. Prepare yourself a healthy meal on a day off. Our body needs more healthy food, such as vegetables, fruits, potatoes and grains. Although our mind prefers greasy food. Fatigue is also a reason that they eat and drink differently.”
What kind of difficulties does someone who is often on the road encounter?
“People often drink too little because there are not always toilets nearby. In terms of eating habits, there is often no regularity. Sometimes you have early and late hours. Along the road, in petrol stations for example, you can find a lot of unhealthy food. Boredom sometimes makes drivers want something to nibble to stay awake. That’s because of the monotony. They may also start drinking some soft drinks and energy drinks. Those are the pitfalls for a driver.”
This article previously appeared on sister magazine TaxiPro.be. Read here the full interview.
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