Why do people smoke - reasons why people start and continue to smoke.
Nowadays it would be unheard of for people not to smoke. Smoking is a part of everyday life, although, believe it or not, it has only recently become so.
There are over one thousand million smokers throughout the world, which is an astonishing number, considering the harm smoking does to your body, which we are all well aware of.
With this in mind, the question "why do people smoke?" is a really complicated one, that is now being explored much more in depth by many of the world's doctors and scientists.
It has only recently been proved that smoking causes lung cancer amongst other serious diseases and that passive smoking is also harmful for those that do not smoke.
Thus, more and more governments are trying to make people aware of the health risks and consequences of smoking. Some governments have even banned smoking in all indoor public places.
Cigarettes are widely available and in many countries fairly inexpensive to buy. For this reason, buying cigarettes is no longer a luxury only for those who can afford to buy them, but a product that is widely attainable by most people.
Why do people start to smoke?
There are not many smokers about who started smoking after the age of eighteen. In fact, the majority of smokers took up the habit in their early or mid teens.
At such a young age, you don't really think about the health risks of smoking and you certainly do not realise how addictive smoking can be. As a teenager you probably think that you can try smoking a few times and then take it or leave it.
However, the reality is that it doesn't take long to become addicted to nicotine and smoking. Within a short period of time, children can experience the same cravings and withdrawal symptoms as an adult, as well as smoke as many cigarettes or more.
There are several reasons as to why children or teenagers start smoking.
Peer pressure plays an important part. Many children start smoking because their friends have tried it or smoke themselves.
Those children may have started as they have grown up in an environment where their parents, grandparents and older siblings smoke, and so they smoke in order to look and act like them.
Other children start smoking as an act of rebellion or defiance against their parents or people of authority.
Some children may also begin to smoke if they have low self-esteem. Smoking may get them in with the "in crowd" and help them to make friends. If they smoke, then they will be accepted by their peers.
Some children have said that they smoke to appear older and more grown up, especially if they are surrounded by young adults who smoke.
A number of children are only experimenting with smoking and just want to try it so see what all the fuss is about. As it is prohibited to smoke until the age of sixteen or even eighteen in some countries, children who smoke and get away with it without being caught, can get a thrill or feeling of excitement out of flaunting the law and doing what grown up adults do all the time.
Whatever the reason that a teenager has for starting to smoke, it is apparent that no matter how much you try to tell them that smoking is bad for you, a great number of them are going to try it anyway.
At that age, a teenager is more likely to be influenced by what their friends are doing rather than doing what their parents would like them to do.
Some teenagers may take up smoking because their favourite film star or pop star smokes. They may think that if they smoke just like their favourite idol does, then they will appear more glamorous, attractive or sexy, like them.
The manner in which some tobacco companies advertise their cigarette brands also has a major influence on young people. Some adverts give the impression that smoking is sociable. You can make new friends by smoking or you can attract your ideal partner by looking sexy, sultry and smoky!
Cigarette advertising is being banned in some countries and tobacco companies are becoming limited in where they are allowed to advertise. In some countries they are not permitted to advertise on billboards, television, radio, in magazines or newspapers or on buses or trains.
Why people continue to smoke
Apart from the fact that nicotine is highly addictive (see effects of nicotine
), which makes it really difficult to give up, many adults have their own reasons for continuing to smoke.
A lot of people think that they need cigarettes in order to cope with stress or nerves. However, nicotine is a stimulant; it makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, so in fact, smoking does not really relax you at all or help you cope with unpleasant situations.
Other smokers say that their habit relaxes them. This is also erroneous because if you think about it, in a lot of the situations where you would light up a cigarette, you are actually carrying out relaxing and enjoyable activities such as sitting down and having a coffee with friends, watching television or having a break from working.
People probably think that smoking relaxes them, when in reality, smoking a cigarette, just stops the withdrawal symptoms that have begun to kick in after not having one for a while.
If you live with a family member or partner who smokes, then obviously it is going to be much harder to quit, even though you may really want to.
Many women are afraid of giving up smoking as they think that they will gain a huge amount of weight when they stop. Once you stop smoking though, you will be much fitter and have much more energy, which could motivate you into taking up some form of exercise or joining a gym.
A lot of people are so used to smoking that they do it out of habit and they don't even really want a cigarette some of the time. For example, you may light up a cigarette when you do certain activities in particular, such as talking on the phone, reading the paper or watching television. If you are not allowed to smoke at work, you may therefore have a cigarette before you start, during a break, before lunch, after lunch and as soon as you leave etc.
As with the younger generation, smoking may be a way of talking to different people and making new friends. Asking someone for a light or a cigarette may be a way of starting a conversation or an ice breaker.
Finally, some people smoke if they are bored and have nothing to do or if they are feeling lonely. Trying to keep busy would perhaps be a more satisfactory solution to this problem.
Whatever the reasons people have to start smoking in the first place, the majority of them quickly become addicted and continue to smoke for a long period of time.
Some manage to quit, probably after many unsuccessful attempts, whilst others will smoke for the rest of their lives, however long or short that may be.
It is a fact however, that over 50% of smokers wish that they didn't smoke and that they could give up tomorrow.
Therefore, it should be apparent that most people smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. For them, not to smoke would need an immense amount of willpower, a huge amount of support from family and friends and for some, expert medical advice and help.