If smoking was really that hazardous and a killer habit, very few would smoke today. Nicotine – the active substance in cigarettes – is akin to similar chemicals found in tea and coffee, and other habit related drugs. Having a cigarette means very much the same to a smoker as having a cup of tea means to us. Yet one habit is vilified, and the other is even encouraged as being healthy.
What attracts young people to smoking? The bad effects are well known and well documented. It is injurious to health in the long run. Still people continue to pick up the habit, and continue smoking.
It seems the attraction to smoking lies in the very act of smoking. Holding a cigarette in one’s hand, and defying others and the norms. It is the first step into adulthood – of being oneself, rather than being defined by others. It is a show of the emerging self. It is this aspect that is glamorously portrayed in the movies.
Remove this charm, this act of rebellion, and smoking would be just another habit that some people can’t get rid of. Just another addiction, another drug to soothe and calm.
The same perhaps goes for alcohol, to some extent, though not much. It is much easier to smoke in public than drink. The aspect of show is therefore limited with alcohol.
It is no wonder therefore that programs to reduce or eliminate smoking strike first at the advertisements. The heroes who make such acts glamorous in the first place. Still, the roots of smoking lie not in the ads and product publicity, but more in our minds. It appears fanciful, and just what one ought to do.
In the long run, however, it is debatable if one should continue with the habit. It has harmful effects. The decision should be left to the individuals concerned. It is a matter of personal choice.
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