The concept of smoking as a habit will remain one of those paradoxical issues of life. This is because there is no known rational benefit to smoking and the prevailing messages indicate several proven health defects that should make anyone run for their dear lives on sighting cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Despite all that have been said on why it is bad and wrong to smoke, it is intriguing that some people are still living with this debilitating habit and in a bid to try and understand why they do what they do and determine if their reasons hold water or not, researchers from different parts of the world have at varying times asked them the question - Why do you smoke?
Going through the diverse reasons noted in relevant publications, we have put together the major reoccurring reasons why smokers defy very obvious health warning messages to inhale hot puffs of dangerous substances:
1. To ease stress and pressures and feel relaxed. Smokers are able to derive this feeling because nicotine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain - a chemical linked to feelings of pleasure.
However, nicotine has also been proven to be quite addictive as smokers start to make a mental link between the act of smoking and feeling good. Because of this, smokers can also become addicted to abstract things like the taste of cigarettes or the feeling of smoking, as well as the nicotine itself.
2. To feel cool. The average smoker took his/her first puff as a teenager. It is interesting that a large number of people who fall in this category acknowledge they took up smoking due to peer pressure where friends and/or family member are avid smokers and not wanting to be left out, the person tags along with the chain of smokers.
3. As a reward. Most of us are hungry for reward. An average smoker after a great achievement, love to reward themselves with one or two sticks of cigarettes to congratulate and give themselves a pat at the back. According to the words of one smoker - The first and last cigarettes in the day are especially significant rewards.
4. As a drug. Most smokers use cigarette as a drug, cigarettes are deliberately designed to give a fast nicotine hit. It takes just 10 seconds for the drug to reach the brain from inhaled cigarette smoke, therefore giving smokers a sense of immediate mental boost.
5. Peer pressure. This is one of the common factors that cause people to smoke especially during the teenage years which represent the time of life when young people rely mostly on friends of the same age for social support and affirmation. Teenagers are easily lured into smoking by their friends and since they don’t want to feel left out or seen as a slacker, they easily dabble into it and then get addicted.
6. Genetic Predisposition. Studies of addiction genetics have shown that if there is an addiction such as smoking found along a person’s family line, he/she is likely to be addicted to smoking as a result of possible subtle mutation in his/her gene formation.
7. Rebellion. Between the ages of twelve and sixteen, children really begin to push buttons in terms of rules and social boundaries. One way of doing this is to smoke cigarettes despite – or perhaps because of – pleas to the contrary, just to prove a point. Usually parents do not allow their underage teens to smoke and this makes smoking very attractive to them and it becomes exciting to get cigarettes and sneak away to smoke without being caught.
8. Social Status. Social status is another weighty reason why people smoke. Many smokers took that first puff only for the purpose of fitting into a particular social circle/crowd and continue to smoke so as to sustain the group's acceptance and enjoy the camaraderie.
9. Advertisement. Research has suggested that, worldwide, tobacco advertising plays a role in the number of people who start or stop smoking. The industry spends a great deal of money on making cigarettes seem glamorous, appealing, fashionable and attractive in order to lure people to desire smoking and they end up getting stuck in the habit. Everyone wants to feel fashionable and glamorous; therefore if smoking can help them achieve this, they don’t mind getting into it.
10. Parental Influence. According to some studies, a parent's choice to smoke can more than double the odds that the child will smoke. The relationship between parents smoking and their children smoking is blunt - Children of active smokers are more likely to start smoking than children of non-smokers, or children of parents who quit smoking.
We'll like you to be the judge. Are these reasons substantial enough for anyone to carry on with a habit that can lead to an early grave and leave behind grief-stricken family and friends?