Major efforts to curb tobacco use have long been underway. Even before the most recent, major public ban was enacted, restaurants and other establishments had no smoking signs in place to cater to both sections of their public. Despite major studies that have shown that smoking causes an incredible number of deaths, at the rate of 5 million per year, nonsmokers are still being persuaded to pick up that first smoke that can, and usually does, lead to a lifelong and dangerous addiction. That doesn’t even consider the costs financially.
5 Common Reasons People Pick Up Smoking
So why does a large portion of the population pick up smoking? While there are certainly studies that show that smoking can be linked to income levels, that certainly doesn’t exclude those in higher income brackets from smoking. Celebrities and even presidents have certainly been lifelong smokers.
Mirroring Role Models
As a young, impressionable adult, it’s a natural instinct to look up to those who are most influential to us. It also becomes natural to mirror their actions and sometimes, their choices. Even though an adult may tell their growing teen that smoking is dangerous and addictive, if they do it with a smoke dangling from the corner of their mouths, those words mean very little. It’s likely fair to say that a good portion of adults actually work hard to quit smoking before their children grow impressionable enough to observe and follow. It doesn’t always have to be parents though. Many children are heavily influenced by celebrities and other public figures, if those figures are often caught smoking off screen, young adults may attempt to mirror them as well.
While this certain does seem like a ‘silly’ idea to the adults we become, peer pressure is a real issue when it comes to those who pick up smoking in their teen years. We all know that even the most independent children can fall prey to an overwhelming amount of nudges in the direction of a bad choice. However, peer pressure doesn’t just apply to teens, there are some adults who can be peer pressured into smoking as well. It can be common in work settings where everyone who smokes seem to congregate during breaks. Education is the best tool to use in the fight against peer pressure. Make sure your loved ones understand the negative effects of tobacco usage, the addiction and the other heavy costs of smoking. While there may be no way to shut out the tobacco industry’s ads that show smoking to be safe, exciting and even glamorous, continuous knowledge on the true effects of smoking on the body and the pocketbook might be the best combatant we all have.
Some report after taking their first test smoke that they have felt more alert, while also being calmed by the effects or the actions of smoking. That whole ‘I need a smoke’ isn’t really just lip service for those who can and will find crutches to support a deeper, underlying need; their dependence on people, substances and other elements to survive. Instead of addressing the issue of psychological dependence, many will continue to see smoking as a ‘cure’ of sorts, for their anxiety, depression or even hyperactivity. The problem is, is that it is the dependent need for a crutch that needs to be addressed. Those who fail to address this mental health issue when it arises through smoking, may also fail to address it when it turns into another addiction. This doesn’t mean smoking is a ‘gateway drug.’ It certainly isn’t. Hundreds of thousands of smokers will never abuse another drug besides nicotine.
While smoking is certainly not a weight control method of any logical means, it is certainly a reason cited by those asked why they began smoking. Smoking does suppress the appetite for many, just as caffeine does. However, smoking also makes further physical activity more difficult, thus defeating itself as any type of weight control method.
Many smokers, and usually those who find it easier to quit, will cite anxiety as a reason they began smoking. This anxiety can be anything from simply being left alone with one’s thoughts for too long, to those who say they ‘just need something to do with their hands’ to alleviate personal or even social anxieties. While this does sort of fall under the psychological dependence factor, it can also be a standalone issue that other options, as simple as a stress-relief ball, may cure. Whereas the psychological dependence for underlying causes will require attention to the physiological as well as the emotional addiction.
While picking up the habit of smoking is certainly not silly, the reasons we do so, in retrospect, and considering that addressing the real issues behind why we are smoking, certainly can be.