Why We Smoke
Nobody becomes a smoker as a result of will power. That’s not why we smoke. In fact it is the other way round. Can you imagine somebody as a child making up his (or her) mind that when he grows up he will become a chain smoker – determined to smoke at least 30 cigarettes a day? Nobody in his right mind would do that. So why do so many people become smokers? Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why we smoke.
One bad apple is enough to make a whole barrel of apples bad. And during the age of thoughtless youth (most people develop the habit before the age of 25) everyone is ready to take up a challenge. So when your peers dare you to take a puff, you feel you just have to – or face being branded as “chicken” or “goody-two-shoes”. Peer pressure is often a major factor in explaining why we smoke.
Cigarettes are available everywhere, and almost anybody can get them. This is slowly changing; in some countries, cigarettes are no longer on open display, and there are increasingly stringent age restrictions on who can buy tobacco products. But still, they’re very easy to get hold of if you really want them.
Movie stars and other celebrities who smoke look so cool. This is more than enough reason for youngsters to start smoking – just to copy their idols. Again, this is changing, as fewer celebrities let themselves be seen smoking. Nevertheless, the influence of older cinema films is still strong.
The “Feel Good” Syndrome
Cigarettes are often seen as “cool”, so delicately balancing a cigarette between two fingers and blowing up a puff of smoke seems a great way of impressing other people. And young people can easily think that smoking will make them appear older and more mature.
Cigarettes are often wrongly identified as stress busters, and as one of the best ways of fighting off sleep. This is, of course, highly questionable, but the belief remains widespread.
If one parent smokes, there is a 25% chance that the child too will grow up to be a smoker. If both parents smoke, there is a 75% chance that the child will become a smoker. Of course, it doesn’t always follow that children coy their parents in this habit, and some of the most vociferous critics of smoking are the sons and daughters of people who have died from smoking related diseases. Still, the statistics are clear.
This is a good one, often overlooked. There is a rebellious streak in most of us – something that creates an urge to protest. During our teenage years, smoking seems a good way to express our defiance, and the number of teenagers who start smoking is quite frightening.