|To the non-smoker, smoking behavior seems incomprehensible. Almost all smokers know the health risks of smoking, but they keep puffing. Many continue for decades, their health declining with each passing year.
What motivates people to take that first cigarette?
The First Cigarette
Most people start smoking when they are teenagers. The desire to fit in and be "one of the crowd" is particularly strong during adolescence. Many teenagers begin smoking to be cool. If their friends smoke, they feel pressured to follow suit.
Young people may also feel that smoking makes them appear grown up. They are right -- it will make them look older, something they will soon regret.
For some, it's a form of rebellion against their parents and teachers. They are aware of the dangers of smoking, so lecturing them about the health risks is probably futile.
Do Smokers Have More Fun?
Advertising is also a big motivator in the desire to take up smoking. Tobacco ads depict young, healthy, active people taking part in fun group activities. The message is clear -- smoke and you too can have this much fun.
Adults also feel the desire to fit in, and so are also susceptible to popular images surrounding smoking. They usually are aware enough to know that smoking will not ensure social acceptance, but there is the universal appeal of the smoker as rebel -- cool and independent. The Marlboro Man. This can be enticing for many young adults, especially those who see themselves as being on the fringe.
Lack Of Optimism
Perhaps certain individuals are more drawn to smoking than others. There is evidence that people with a long-term outlook on life, those with plans for the future, are less likely to start smoking because they know it will cause future health problems and shorten their life span.
On the other hand, those with shorter outlooks and less optimism about the future are more likely to smoke.
The Good, Bad, And Ugly
Other people turn to smoking as a way to relieve stress. Even though tobacco is ineffective for handling stress in the long run, it does provide short-term relief. Those who have stressful jobs or who are in difficult life situations may take up smoking as a coping mechanism.
There are a number of unpleasant aspects to smoking that must be overlooked in order to become addicted. Smoking stains the teeth and the fingers. It causes bad breath. It fouls the air and creates an unpleasant environment for non-smokers.
It is a testament to how pleasurable smoking can be that so many people will put up with its negative aspects. Most smokers say they enjoy cigarettes, and those who have managed to quit often feel they have lost an old friend.
Can They Quit?
Almost all smokers will eventually come to a point where they want to quit. The reality of smoking-related health problems sinks in, and they decide that it's time to give up the habit. Unfortunately, the habit will not give them up so easily. The addictive nature of nicotine makes quitting a very difficult task.
Considering the spurious nature of the "benefits," the enormous costs in health and in money literally burned up, and the huge difficulty of quitting, one question demands an answer. Why start?
About the author:
Ron King is a full-time researcher, writer, and web developer. Visit http://www.stop-smoking-review.comfor more info.
Copyright 2005 Ron King. This article may be reprinted if the resource box is left intact.
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