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Home » Columns » Smoking…Is it that cool after all?

Smoking…Is it that cool after all?

Publishing Date : 19 June, 2017

DR BOIMA
HEALTH ISSUES


Every year, on the 31st of May, the world commemorates World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for governments to adopt effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.


A major effort has long been underway to curb the world's use of tobacco. No-smoking signs are common fixtures in many businesses. State and federal laws increasingly restrict where people can smoke, and taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products are higher than ever. Study after study shows a link between smoking and a host of health problems, including heart disease, lung disease and different types of cancers.


According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than 7 million people around the world each year, and that number is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are re-enforced. In the United States, tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease. It is still astonishing though to see the rate at which people especially youngsters still choose to use tobacco. Many people if you ask them do not really have valid reasons as to why they are using tobacco.


It is not so much about lacking information or knowledge on the dangers of tobacco use. Some will tell you they thought it was “cool” and they got hooked, some will tell you they got pressured by their peers or partners, some will tell you they grew up in a household where parents use(d) tobacco, for some it acts as a stress reliever, some will tell you they smoke or sniff because of medical problems like obesity or  epistaxis, for some it will be because they needed something to do or keep busy in social situations, and many other reasons.


Perhaps our attention should be focused on where it all starts and we try to nip the problem from the roots. In this article, we explore reasons why someone might pick up that first cigarette. Peer pressure – most young people will smoke because their friends or peers smoke. They may feel pressured into doing the same to be accepted as part of the group. The other reason is the excitement that comes with experimenting with something that is forbidden.


Addiction – Nicotine is the main substance in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. It affects many parts of the body including the brain. Over time the body and brain get used to having nicotine in them. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds of when it enters the body and causes the brain to release adrenaline, and that creates a buzz of pleasure and energy. The buzz quickly fades though then the person starts feeling tired or down, needing that buzz again.


The body is able to build a high tolerance to nicotine, so a person may begin to need to smoke more cigarettes to get the same buzz. This cycle is what leads to addiction. It is reported that about 80-90% of people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine. If a person is struggling with addiction then s/he needs to seek his/her doctor’s intervention to map a rehabilitation road as addiction is a medical problem.


Social reasons – Smoking can be associated with certain activities like taking a break to relax, hanging out with friends or going to certain places. If this is the case then smoking has formed a pattern of one’s social life. Other behaviours that keep one distracted and busy can be learnt to replace smoking, like sipping on water, joining the gym or seeking a new hobby. Intervention of psychologists or counsellors can also be sought to break the link between smoking and socialization.

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