Smoking cigarettes is a major public health issue. Smoking--and even inhaling smoke from others--is linked to cancer, heart disease and a host of other health problems. Younger generations are becoming increasingly enlightened as to the dangers of smoking cigarettes, and identifying why people smoke is key to keeping them from getting hooked.
Well-intentioned parents instruct their children not to smoke but may not do a good job of explaining why smoking is a bad idea. Also, young people sometimes have difficulty considering long-term health consequences; they feel as if they will be young and healthy for eternity. So telling children not to smoke often falls on deaf ears, or it inspires their instinct to rebel.
Parents who smoke send a subtle message to their children that smoking is OK; "if Mom and Dad do it, so can I." Families full of smokers often breed new generations of smokers. Also, there's peer pressure and curiosity; children whose friends smoke are more likely to try it, or children may simply want to see what it is about smoking that makes so many people want to do it.
It used to be that you couldn't watch a movie or see a band in concert without seeing one of the stars light up. Celebrities smoke, and the tobacco companies have reaped the benefits. While many artists today have taken staunch and public stands against smoking, and many films, magazines and TV shows have been careful not to show famous people smoking, celebrities are still part of the reason many people are drawn to smoke.
People fall into addiction easily, and even those who don't are often creatures of habit. No one tries smoking with the intention of becoming addicted to a deadly vice, but that's often what happens. Nicotine addiction sets in fast and takes hold hard, and before they know it, experimental or social smokers are craving nicotine and burning through butts in ways they never expected.
Smoking is a psychological as well as physical addiction, and any number of triggers can set off the desire to smoke; a song, a certain person, a night out drinking, a particular activity, a time of day, a specific place.
People who try to quit smoking often have to avoid these things, or find an acceptable substitute for smoking when they come up. Many former smokers carry a supply of nicotine gum or lozenges to stave off unexpected cravings.
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