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Getting-Personal Series: Why Are You Smoking?

MyFinalSmoke has conducted interviews with current and ex smokers to compile this series of stories and personal experiences, true accounts of how people like you have encountered the cigarette, how it affected their lives, and how they live with the habit, and how they gave it up. In the following, we will share with you the insights of real people and how they answered our questions.

Why Are You Smoking? *

We have discussed earlier how a few current smokers were introduced to the cigarette. The reasons that may drive someone to try smoking for the first time are often miles apart from the reasons they continue to do it. There’s usually an innocence to first times that later gets obscured by the ugly truth we effortlessly discover as smoking becomes a life-long daily habit. And yet a frightening number of people cling to the cigarette for dear life and refuse to give it up, regardless of threats to health and full knowledge of the consequences. So why? We asked four current smokers “why are you smoking,” and in the following are their answers.

Disclaimer: All answers are submitted anonymously to encourage complete honesty and are paraphrased when needed to enhance readability. MyFinalSmoke doesn’t endorse or embrace or advocate for any of the viewpoints shared below.

All Sorts of Reasons, Except… *

“Most people start smoking when they are in their teens and are addicted by the time they reach adulthood. Some have tried to quit but have returned to cigarettes because smoking is such a strong addiction. It is a habit that is very difficult to break. There are many different reasons why people smoke. Three of the main reasons that young people smoke are to look mature, to be like their friends, and to experiment. Since teens see older people all around them smoking, especially their parents and relatives, they smoke to act older. If their friends or peers smoke, they may feel pressured into doing the same to be accepted. The last reason is the excitement of experimenting with something that is forbidden.

Adults smoke for other reasons. They may have a lot of stress and pressure because of economic and personal problems. They may be unemployed or working but not making enough money to take care of themselves and their families. They may be homeless, or they may be dealing with alcohol or cocaine/heroin addictions. Some may be in bad marriages or relationships in which there is physical and/or verbal abuse. All these people may smoke to feel relaxed or to get energy while going through a hard time. Whether young or old, some people smoke to control their weight. Smokers, on the average, weigh seven pounds less than non-smokers. Smoking reduces a person’s appetite. It lessens his/her sense of taste and smell. This could be why ex-smokers gain weight after quitting cigarettes. Food tastes and smells so much better. Finally, there are people who say they love to smoke. Smoking gives them pleasure. It just makes them feel good.

That last part is totally me.”

Self-Harm *

“It’s mostly like the desire to self-harm. When I’m relatively feeling okay I don’t have a desire to smoke at all, but when I’m feeling really bad, feeling hatred or guilt or anything negative towards myself (the feeling is mostly towards life or someone else but I turn it to myself, I don’t know why), I’d have a great urge to self harm, but I don’t really cut or so; I physically can’t to be honest, so my thoughts turn to burning cigarettes as you are indeed harming yourself.”

Classical Conditioning *

“I am not sure why I smoke. It started with curiosity and grew into a habit. Social smoking is fun and it’s hard to resist finishing half of your pack when you’re among a group that won’t stop smoking. After a while a few things start to trigger your need for a cigarette: early mornings, coffee, someone in a TV show that just lit a cigarette, or just finishing a really nice meal. I’m pretty sure I am to blame for these associations, but at a point it really becomes a subconscious reaction. And I guess that’s the core of the addiction. You learn to do things in pairs. So now you can’t just have a cup of coffee at 6 am before work without a strong wave of nicotine cravings.”

The Pursuit of Validation *

“Youngsters are usually seeking validation, to look cool. I wrote something about the concept:

People are not necessarily chasing what personally makes them happy but rather what society (the particular society they would like to be part of) approves of and deems as acceptable. It is rarely about what we actually want but more commonly about what it is that is currently fashionable to want. Whether we like to admit it or not, we will more often than not, attempt to do things we find little to no joy in doing in order to tick a checkbox next to a “social necessity” item which would seemingly bring us closer to those we wish to further associate with.”

Short Conclusion *

Smokers’ reasons are variant and usually personal, though the most common one would always simply be because they just can’t stop. However, before the former realization hits, smokers are often attracted to the cigarette to escape a part of reality they don’t find too favorable. Whether it’s to release stress, feel in control of something, or cater to a dormant desire to harm oneself, there’s, in most cases, a level of awareness (almost always high) that they are not doing themselves, their bodies, or their surroundings any favor, though said awareness is usually laced with apathy.

The most striking answer we received of our main question was curt and quite melancholic. When asked why he smokes, a 28 year-old young man with chronic asthma simply replied, “because I hate myself.”

Our next article in the series will ask the question of “why did you quit smoking?” So if you found the stories above helpful, tune in for more insight or email us/comment below with your own story. We hope that, in the shared experiences, we may come to find a moral, and reach an understanding of why a habit so harmful can have such a strong hold on the best of us.

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