Why Do People Keep on Smoking?
The rate of smoking has been on a steady decline over the last several decades, but with 17 percent of the world’s population projected to be smoking in the year 2030 if smoking patterns remain unchanged, the numbers are still nothing to scoff at.
This, despite the dangers of smoking known to everyone and their neighbor. Question is, why do people keep smoking?
Why Do People Smoke?
Tobacco [ab]use, and more specifically smoking, remains the leading cause of preventable death, resulting in 8 million deaths globally every year, according to the World Health Organization.
The health body also puts the number of total COVID-19 deaths at 5.7 million as at February 2022. While this is by no means a small number, it shows the devastating effect of cigarettes; an effect that the world has become desensitized to, but doesn’t mean the families the world over aren’t feeling its ravaging impact every single day.
“But if the dangers of cigarettes remain an open secret, why do people keep on smoking and millions of others continue to pick up this deleterious habit?”
Well, it could be down to a range of factors…
It’s not lost on anyone that the environment in which a child grows up influences everything from their habits to their attitudes and beliefs. A good deal of smokers will admit that they picked up smoking because they grew up in a home where one or both of the parents used to smoke.
And you can’t blame them really. Children look up to their parents and a child that grows up under a smoking parent has higher chances of becoming a smoker when they grow up compared to someone brought up by non-smokers.
The parents don’t even need to be smokers themselves to encourage this norm in their children. Parents who regard smoking as a socially-acceptable behavior may influence their kids to experiment with cigarettes.
Peer pressure plays a massive role in shaping young people’s lives, more so during puberty. It’s something that affects people well into adulthood, that need to fit in.
For teenagers, however, it’s a different ball game altogether and unfortunately, it can take a huge toll on them socially and psychologically. It’s not surprising then to know that 9 out of 10 individuals pick up smoking before the age of 18.
It has been established that the earlier you start smoking, the higher the likelihood of getting addicted to cigarettes. Which explains why people who start smoking early in life find it more difficult to stop.
Since the days of Marlboro Man, smoking has always been portrayed as this glamorous habit that made you look cool, more sociable and even attractive to potential partners. In fact, one of main reasons most people pick up the habit is because they consider it cool, desirable and in the case of teens, that it makes them come across as more mature. Experienced.
The media has played a big role in portraying cigarettes in this light, especially in the years when screens were awash with cigarette adverts before restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion got stricter.
For easily-impressionable minds such as adolescents’, glamorizing cigarettes like was the norm some years back can influence many individuals to pick up smoking.
For far too long, there has been this narrative that cigarettes act as a good stress reliever. While the accuracy of these opinions remains up for debate, a significant number of individuals started smoking as a way to cope with stress.
Some swear that it works, and while there is no denying that nicotine may have a momentary calming effect, the stress factor is something that keeps many people coming back, including individuals who stopped smoking months or even years ago.
In essence, though, it’s absolutely possible to experience relaxation by simply taking a short break without smoking.
Pros and Cons of Smoking
The disadvantages of smoking are well-known, especially when it comes to health effects, but would there be any existing benefit that makes people keep smoking?
Well, apart from the social aspect of it, there isn’t much to gain from cigarettes really. Some say smoking can help you lose weight, but there are plenty of healthy ways to combat weight gain or keep those pounds at bay.
But it’s true, smoking makes socializing easier, so much so that many “smokers” cite this as one of their main reasons for smoking. We say smokers in quotes because most are individuals who use cigarettes on occasion in order to blend in with the crowd at social events like parties or a trip down the pub.
In fact, a study dating back to 2009 established that at least a third of all cigarettes are smoked by people in social settings, and that many smokers are more likely to light up when they see other people smoking.
Other than that, there aren’t many other genuine pros associated with cigarettes, and it’s safe to say the disadvantages of smoking far outweigh the perceived benefits.
These number in the dozens, but if we could list some of the more prominent downsides of cigarette use, we would include:
The biggest danger of cigarette use definitely has to do with health. Smoking has an adverse effect on almost every organ of the body, but it is the lungs that bear the brunt the most, followed by the heart.
Research shows that of all lung cancer deaths, a whopping 80% are caused by smoking, with cigarettes also responsible for 25% of all heart disease deaths. Cigarettes are also linked to developing chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and they can also trigger or aggravate an asthma attack.
As well, smoking is attributed to a host of other cancers, including increasing the risk of:
- Mouth cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Throat cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Colon cancer
- Liver cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Acute myeloid leukemia
Risk of pregnancy complications
There is a reason expectant women are told to avoid smoking. Cigarettes can affect pregnancy and the developing fetus in multiple ways.
For example, smoking increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy or premature delivery, and it can also negatively affect the unborn baby by damaging organs and the central nervous system.
Smoking can also lead to congenital abnormalities like cleft lip, and it also heightens the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
The longer men smoke, the higher they face the risk of erectile dysfunction. Studies have also established that smoking degrades sperm quality, in turn reducing fertility.
And it’s not just for the men folk. Cigarettes have a detrimental effect on the female reproductive system, so women who smoke are less likely to get pregnant, something that has been traced to tobacco and the chemicals present in cigarettes which could affect hormone levels.
Weakened immune system
Smokers are more likely to have a weakened immune system, making them susceptible to illness.
The risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration related to age is higher in smokers than non-smokers. Other eye problems related to smoking include glaucoma, dry eyes and diabetic retinopathy.
Poor dental hygiene
In addition to causing yellowing of teeth and hampering your ability to taste (and smell), cigarettes also double the risk of developing gum disease.
Unhealthy skin and hair
You probably have heard that smoking tobacco can result in premature aging of the skin. What it also does is contribute to hair loss and balding.
Away from the effects on the body, another downside of smoking is that it is increasingly becoming an expensive hobby. People who go through a pack a day will no doubt feel the dent in their wallets which in a year could amount to several thousand dollars.
Low fitness levels
Cigarettes and exercise don’t mix, which is largely down to the fact that smoking isn’t too kind on the lungs.
Why Do People Smoke? Reasons People Keep Smoking
So, why do people keep on smoking even with all these shortcomings associated with tobacco cigarettes?
Well, for all the individual reasons every smoker harbors about cigarettes, most have tried quitting at one point or another without much success.
Triggers – what gives the smoker a reason to light up – are one of the top reasons many people keep smoking. Triggers could be stress, could be the smell of cigarette smoke, could be established patterns (morning cup of coffee or driving, for example), could be social such as a night out, could be anything.
Others are just not ready to say goodbye to cigarettes just yet – that is, motivation to stop smoking is low; while there are those who are concerned about things like weight gain. They fear adding a couple of more inches to the waistline if they quit.
Other people keep smoking because the quitting methods they have tried have not worked for them, so they find themselves regressing in their quitting journey. There’s also a concern by some that they won’t be able to cope with the vicious withdrawal symptoms, more so when there’s a need to stay productive amidst life’s regular responsibilities.
However, the biggest reason that keeps most hooked to cigarettes is down to one thing: nicotine addiction.
“Nicotine is one of the hardest substances to quit, right up there on a list that also includes heroin and cocaine.”
This makes sense because nicotine alters pathways in your brain which makes it difficult to function without a hit once the addiction sets in.
The longer you keep using nicotine, the deeper into the addiction pit you get. It gets to a point where quitting becomes virtually impossible, especially if your mind isn’t fully into it. Nicotine addiction is more than just a physical state, you see. Without tackling the psychological aspects of addiction, laying off nicotine for good once you stub out that last cigarette is going to be work.
This is why many cessation tools and quitting programs fail, because they only address the physical aspect of nicotine addiction.
But what if there was a way?
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How to Stop Smoking for Good
On average, smokers make 6 to 11 attempts to stop smoking before they eventually succeed. While your success rate largely depends on how far you’re willing to go in your journey, your cessation tool of choice also plays a big role.
1. Cold turkey
This method relies on willpower alone to get you across the finish line once you make the decision to stop smoking. It has the lowest success rate (6 percent) and many are bound to relapse along the way.
2. Using NRTs
NRT stands for nicotine replacement therapy, a quitting method designed to wean you off nicotine gradually while reducing your exposure to chemicals found in burning tobacco. NRT methods approved by the FDA include:
- Chewing gum
- Skin patches
- Nasal spray (prescription only)
- Inhaler (prescription only)
3. Prescription medication
Another option available to people looking to quit cigarettes are actual non-nicotine-containing drugs such as the FDA-approved varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban).
Electronic cigarettes have become the most popular quitting aid over the years, and by far the most effective.
However, the downside is that vaping still keeps you hooked to nicotine, only eliminating the risk that comes with burning tobacco and the hundreds of chemicals associated with cigarettes. While that is enough reason to substitute your cigarette with an e-cig device, the risks of vaping still remain open for debate.
5. Joining a quitting program
There are many quitting programs out there, each of which differs in its own ways. At the heart of it, though, a quitting program aims to provide support to smokers, whether that be through a support group, a quit plan, provision of tools to help in your quitting journey, or a combination of two or more. It is here that Quittercheck falls.
Quittercheck is a program that combines different quitting methods designed to address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction in order to boost your chances of quitting nicotine.
The digital clinic tackles nicotine addiction through a multi-pronged approach that involves providing smokers with self-help materials and a healthy quitting aid in the form of Venquil, a physical device that replaces the cigarette or vape device.
By combining these with behavioral therapy to handle the psychological aspect of addiction, the program significantly increases your chances of nipping your nicotine dependence right in the bud.
Quitting smoking is not easy, and it’s okay to come to terms with that fact. Using that as your starting point, you need to acknowledge the journey is not going to be easy. Fortunately, it is very much possible to stop smoking for good if you set your mind to it and use effective quitting methods.
Quittercheck is a unique quitting program backed by scientific research that can double your success rate without putting your health in danger.
The program is easily accessible from your smartphone and comes in multiple plans designed to suit different nicotine users depending on their addiction level.
In addition to a one-week trial period, it offers a 12-week plan for smokers of less than 10 cigarettes a day, a 20-week plan aimed for people who have been using nicotine for up to 4 years, and a 28-week plan designed for nicotine users who’ve been using nicotine for more than 4 years.
The Quittercheck program also comes with two optional physical quitting aids that come in handy when nicotine cravings strike: the Venquil Pocket and the Venquil Wearable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do people smoke?
There’s no specific reason why people start smoking, but the more common reasons that motivate many to pick up the habit include peer pressure, influence from a family member, as well as the media glorifying cigarettes and smoking. Some people also smoke as a supposed means of coping with stress.
Are there any benefits of smoking?
Apart from using cigarettes as an avenue to socialize more easily with other smokers, you’ll struggle to find many benefits of smoking. Some say cigarettes can help you lose weight, but that has to be the unhealthiest way to shed off the pounds in the history of weight loss.
Why do people choose to smoke?
People choose to smoke for different reasons. According to research, about a third of smokers choose to smoke for fun or in order to blend in, especially during social events like parties. Others smoke to quell nicotine cravings. Others believe it makes them look cool. Depends on the individual, really.
Tired of permanent trying to quit? Choose your Quittercheck plan now.