Why Do People Still Smoke Even Though They Know the Risks?

I talk and write a lot about health and wellness.? I stress the importance of making smart and healthy lifestyle choices, reducing stress, and nourishing the body and the skin from the inside out, not just from the outside in.? I have to admit though, I have not always followed my own advice.? Although I grew up in a household that promoted good nutrition, exercise, and good health, these are all lessons I had to learn for myself later on as an adult.

Bad habit.

When I was a teenager and a young adult, I definitely was guilty of eating fast foods, processed foods, not exercising enough, allowing stress to run my life, and yes?I was also a smoker.? A heavy smoker.? It got to the point that as a starving college student, I chose to spend my money first on cigarettes, and then on food.? I always complained that eating healthy was too expensive?but I always came up with $2.00 to $2.50 (if cigarettes cost as much back then as they cost today I probably would have quit sooner) a day to spend on a pack of cigarettes.? So ramen noodles and soda it was.

I smoked off and on for 11 years.? I’d quit for a year or two here and there, but I always went back to smoking.? I didn’t quit for good until I felt I actually had a reason to: when I was trying to get pregnant with my first child.? You see, I had no problem putting my own body at risk for all those years, but I couldn’t stand the thought of putting my unborn child at risk.? I don’t know how that made sense to me for all of those years, but at least I did finally quit.

People know the risks…yet they still smoke.

Smoker’s lung on left, non-smoker’s lung on right

I smoked for all that time being fully aware of the risks, as most people are.? I had plenty of anti-smoking health classes and assemblies at school showing graphic pictures of smokers? blackened and deteriorated lungs, and faces of people who had to have part of their faces removed because of mouth or throat cancer.? I even watched my own family members suffer with constant smokers? cough, emphysema, heart disease, and even succumb to death from smoking-related causes.? But these were not reasons enough to quit.? I still don’t understand why learning about and seeing firsthand how bad smoking is wasn?t enough for me and isn’t enough for people who continue to smoke today.

Is it a false sense of invincibility?? People think ?oh that stuff happens to other people but it won’t happen to me?.? Is it denial?? Do people really think smoking really isn’t all that bad, and all of this is just propaganda to sell smoking cessation products?? Maybe.? And I will address this propaganda later on.? Are they just too strongly addicted to the nicotine, or is it oral fixation?? Or is it laziness due to habit and convenience?

How serious is nicotine addiction?

Let’s talk about addiction.? I know cigarettes are addicting.? Whether it is the nicotine or the psychological need to comfort oneself by having something in one?s mouth?or a combination of both, it absolutely is a legitimate addiction.? But put it into perspective (and this is where people might get mad at me…sorry).? Do you ever hear about celebrities going to rehab to quit smoking?? Do you hear about regular nicotine-addicted people being sent to in-patient rehab or detox facilities to rid their bodies of the drug and help them stay cigarette free?? You hear about these types of facilities for addicts of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol, but not for smoking.

Sure there are support groups and cessation programs available through local hospitals, churches, other community groups, and even employers; and these are great.? But I think it is safe to say that smoking is not considered a hard enough addiction to break to warrant actual clinical rehabilitation.? If it was, I guarantee you more people and companies would have already made millions of dollars on smoking rehab.? We know that there is plenty of money to be made by selling smoking cessation products because of the many over-the-counter and prescription options available.? But clearly, when doing their market analyses, these companies did not find a need for a rehab-type facility.

When doing research for this article, I did find one facility, the Stop Smoking Clinic, which offers several methods of quitting in a clinical setting.? But in my opinion this setup is no different than what a physician or drug store, combined with a local support group can offer.? There were a couple of comments on their website from people reaching out and asking for more information and they were never answered; which leads me to believe that this is really not a patient-focused program or facility.

Oh, the propaganda…

Everywhere you go, you see all these ads for drugs (which are actually antidepressants), fake cigarettes, nicotine gums/patches, etc. to help people quit smoking.? I can tell you from experience they do not work.? They just prolong the addiction to the nicotine and/or oral fixation.? I tried the drugs and the nicotine patches when I was younger, and for me the drugs helped with my mood but did nothing to break the habit.? I followed the instructions on the box for the nicotine patches but I still had a very serious reaction to it, even at a low dose.

Electronic Cigarette

Then I went to the mall one day and saw a man “smoking” an electronic cigarette.? He was staring me, almost daring me to scold him for smoking in public.? Curious, although I knew what I was in for, I went over to hear his spiel, and learned that this ?e-cigarette” looks, feels, and tastes like a real cigarette, except all you inhale is water vapor.? It even has a step-down program with the levels of nicotine the e-cigarettes contain, eventually leading to a nicotine-free product.

Do I look suave and rebellious?

It really was ridiculous; this guy tried looking so suave and rebellious, having a conversation with me while puffing on this thing and blowing out his nicotine-infused water vapor in a smoke-free place for all to see.? While this type of product can wean people off of nicotine, it does nothing at all for the actual physical habit of smoking or the oral fixation.? You might as well just suck on a pacifier.? It will cost you about a hundred dollars less, and you will look no less ridiculous.? Furthermore, I don’t see how inhaling steam constantly can be good for your lungs.? I’m sure studies will come up with some scary findings soon enough.

So how did I quit smoking?

Cold turkey.? It is the only way.? It gets the nicotine out of your system the fastest, and it forces you to rethink your behaviors.? I don’t want to hear any excuses about how hard it is to quit cold turkey?sure it is hard, and no it’s not fun.? But I don’t see how spending all this money on gimmicks to just make the process longer and more emotionally taxing is any easier.

People need to return to good, old-fashioned will power; and accept that fact that it won’t be easy.? I also don’t want to hear how people think they are not strong enough to beat this addiction?please.? Give yourself some credit.? Think of some of the hardest things you have ever gone through in life.? I guarantee you this won’t be as hard.? The first few days won’t be fun, I’m not going to lie?and the temptation will be there for a long time, if not always.? You just have to tell yourself NO.? Tell yourself that you are stronger than these little white sticks, and that they do not have control over your life or your decisions. You do.

Ways to take the edge off?
I recently came across a blog post from The Organic Beauty Expert on holistic ways to quit smoking.? It?s definitely worth a read.? It talks about how using visualization, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation and stress-relief techniques can really help take the edge off during withdrawal.? These methods should also be used for relaxation and stress-relief on a daily basis, at times when you’d typically take a smoke-break or substitute a snack in lieu of a cigarette.

Quitting smoking benefits your body, your skin, the health of your living space, reduces your (and your family?s) risk of getting certain cancer, puts money back into your wallet, makes you more productive at work due to less breaks?all good things.? You deserve good things and good health in life.? And your family deserves to have you in their lives for longer than they would if you continue smoking.? If you won’t quit for yourself, then quit for them.? It doesn’t matter who you quit for, just quit.

Come back tomorrow for some information about how smoking affects the skin and how the skin ages.


6 thoughts on “Why Do People Still Smoke Even Though They Know the Risks?”

  1. So many people struggle to quit smoking. It’s not easy. The desire to quit has to be stronger than the addiction to nicotine. Some quitters don’t always get it right first go, but keep trying and they will get there. There is so much to live for!

  2. Thanks for your comment! I agree…the desire has to be there…but I think a lot of people automatically think it is too hard to quit before they even try it, or they give up right away as soon as the first craving hits…they have to give themselves more credit than that…people are stronger than cigarettes. You just have to make yourself push through it. It is much harder to live with a long-term serious health condition caused by smoking than it is to deal with a few days or weeks of withdrawal.

    1. 50-60 years is a lot of damage…but there is always a benefit to quitting smoking at ANY point. It’s always a good time to quit smoking.

  3. Alot of people that have and still are smoking is alot damage to their lungs and how it effects their life. And it’s sad to see adults and teens smoking even though they know that it’s bad for them.

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