Smoking: It is more than just a habit

You must be wondering as to the queer title of this passage. Could there be any virtue, a positive face to this habit which has been deemed a bane to life as well as shunned by the so called ‘morally upholding’ society? Fret not for we are not about to declare judgement on smoking. Rather coming across such shockingly myriad views on this habit, lets ponder on the habit of smoking – how it develops, what causes the pull to it, why is it considering harmful etc.

A brief overview on smoking

Here are a few statistics on smoking:

  1. Nearly around one-third male adult global population smokes.
  2. Smoking is on the rise in the developing world. Smoking rates shrunk by nearly half in three decades, among Americans. A 3.4 % increase has been observed every year in the number of smokers. About 10 million cigarettes are sold every minute.
  3. Nearly one out of every 5 teenagers smokes cigarettes worldwide.
  4. Around 100,000 children and teenagers around the world start smoking each day – and half of these live in Asia.
  5. Studies show tobacco advertising has a wide impact on teenagers.

Phew! That’s a lot of statistical data. It does show what prominent spot cigarettes occupy in our society. They also show that smoking is largely seen in the masculine population and the influence begins early with a heavy fraction being among teens.

Why the habit of smoking develops?

It is curious that a habit/practice considered harmful or baneful could attract such a large following. But if we refer to our biblical history of Adam and Eve, we realise that it is in human nature to seek out that which is forbidden. For children, especially teenagers, smoking and cigarettes radiate the charm of a forbidden fruit. It signifies rebellion; rebellion against meek orthodox norms, traditional bindings, etc. It serves as a signal that a person is no longer bound to ties that limit him; he is ready to win the world! Moreover smoking is also regarded as a fashion statement, a modernist symbol of machismo, a sign of coming of age to adulthood. Some have more honest reasons to resort to smoking like when one is undergoing heavy stress maybe emotional due to loss of a close person or say educational when one has huge syllabus to cover.

How the habit of smoking develops?

In order to understand how the habit develops, we need to know a few technical details about cigarettes. Cigarettes contain a substance called tobacco which is primarily made up of addictive chemical called nicotine.

Nicotine, to keep it short, is a substance that you cannot leave once you are addicted to it! Though nicotine has some beneficial functions too, like acting as a kind of stimulant which primarily helps in calming of the nerves and reducing stress, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

In this present era of stressful living, smoking quickly achieves an irrefutable position in a smoker’s daily life. It is common knowledge that as we grow up, responsibilities increase and hence the associated work load and stress involved. For a person who (usually) starts smoking early and has experienced its calming effects, ridding him or her of this habit is a daunting task. This is more so because it becomes a way of life for them and withdrawal symptoms are common when people actually try to quit smoking.

That brings us to the question, ‘How to quit smoking after all?’

For those who realise the potential harm of smoking, they can start towards quitting the habit, though it is no easy business. Some of the steps that can be followed are:

  1. Remove ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes from your home and workplace.
  2. Make a list of the things that make you crave for your smoke. And just keep a tab that you have a chewing gum with you during such times.
  3. Create new things to do at the time you would normally smoke. Go for a stroll after dinner. If you have a pet, take the same for a walk.

(Source: quitsmoking.about.com)