Why do people still smoke?


With the amount of information about the effects of smoking, it amazes me how many people still want to smoke. My father in-law had a laryngectomy several years ago and speaks through a valve in his neck. After several years of remission he now has tumors in his bladder. My mother in-law has emphysema and cerebrovascular disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease with similar symptoms. She still smokes.

The cost of smoking increases constantly with taxes and governments have been forcing manufacturers to add more and more horrific images of rotting lungs and other consequences, but to little avail.

It is now known that current smokers have a 50% greater likelihood of getting dementia and are 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. It deems this hasn’t had the same publicity as other consequences, perhaps because there is no cure, or operation to help people recover from it.

For people that want the nicotine rush, but want to avoid the tar and other carcinogens that come from tobacco, there are now other alternatives. One is nicotine gum. I used this myself some 20 years ago when I decided it was time to give up. The gum worked for me because I wanted to give up and by continuing the supply of nicotine I was able to get over the psychological urge to smoke.

Now there are E-CIG’s which allow you to continue getting the nictotine rush as well as the need to have something in your hand, to put in your mouth and suck in that deep breath, inhaling a measured shot of nicotine sprayed from an atomiser and then having a nice relaxing exhale. This could one day become quite the vogue for people who want to enjoy smoking, but want to avoid the risks. There are several benefits. You don’t have to be a pariah, standing out in the cold, excluded from enjoying your passion, barred from restaurants and drinking establishments.

There are some ironies in the smoking statistics. In the US, the highest percentage of smokers are those just above the poverty level at 29.9%. Overall around 24% of men and 20% of women in the US smoke tobacco. You often hear of people saying the smoke because they can’t afford many vices and smoking makes them feel better. Off course we all know that those same people also have a lower life expectancy. Some of it might be down to access to medicine, not having medical insurance and so on, but those that can least afford it seem to spend the most money on alcohol, gambling and smoking (to list the legal things).

In New Zealand around 25% of people smoke and a worse statistic is that around 174 to 490 non smokers die from second hand smoke.

There is no end in sight and while in countries like New Zealand it is pretty much illegal to advertise tobacco in any form, hope over to countries like Jamaica and you will see enormous ‘statues’ of packs of cigarettes and billboards of people with big smiles on their faces as they take a big lungfull of tar.

I would love to see support for the E-CIG’s because if people got the same stimulation, even if they don’t have fun curling the smoke from their mouths to their noses, or blowing smoke rings, they would at least live longer. I don’t know how bad the nicotine is as a stimulant.  I did some research on whether nicotine is harmful in itself and there are conflicting opinions and I guess given the commitment of manufacturers to keep making and selling tobacco products, there is potential for bias.

The main thing people say is that nicotine is an addictive substance, but my experience was that nicotine chewing gum made it so much easier for me to give up smoking. The evidence on smoking tobacco is irrefutable and the many court cases the tobacco industry has lost bear testiment to this.

I have a problem with intelligent people using and abusing drugs. Whether it is overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, taking mild or dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines or binge drinking. Many of my friends drink alcohol every day and many can’t open a bottle of wine without finishing it in one sitting. Many are happy drinking a whole bottle on their own, several times a week. I have a friend who works in a prison with methamphetamine addicts and told me that they have inmates who have virtually no brain left. That warden still smokes and drinks to excess.

So here’s a lits of what intelligent people are legally risking with tobacco smoking according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out 10 of lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Smoking 15 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and also is related to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis, than are nonsmokers.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications such as kidney disease.
  • Impaired senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing as it once was.
  • Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.

So I’ll leave the last note to doctor’s of yesteryear:

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course http://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

3 thoughts on “Why do people still smoke?

  1. As long as cigarettes are legal, people will be smoking. I would like to see more and more tightly enforced laws to protect children from their parents habit. Don’t know how this would be enforceable without simply eliminating tobacco products.

    Just think of all the money that is wasted on a habit that makes people ill, and poor and, apparently, demented, too. If that was spent on good things and services, don’t you think it would greatly improve the economy, and that the world would be much better off?

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  3. Well, you’ve got a lot of reasons here why intelligent people ‘shouldn’t’ smoke, and believe me, I whole-heartedly agree, but I’m intelligent, and I smoked for 23 years. 23 years! It seems crazy to me now, but so many more people smoked when I was a kid.

    I’m 42 now, and quit about 8 weeks ago with Champix, an amazing drug that blocks the nicotine receptors in your brain. So even if you do smoke while taking it, the nicotine has no effect. I will never be able to say enough about it as I am now free. It feels good.

    However, I still will always defend someones right to smoke as long as it remains legal. I feel it is inherently wrong to make addicts ‘pariahs’ of any type, and that is what has happened. It has ‘shamed’ people into quitting and feeling sub-standard.

    Now some might think that’s a good thing, and I guess it has its benefits, but it’s not ‘right’ or ‘just’ considering the legality of the product. I do think we will see it become illegal here in North America in the next 10 years or so, and next generations will hopefully only read about this terrible combination of plant and chemical, that, as you mention, is now growing in popularity in many other countries that don’t know any better.

    Your stats on lung cancer I hadn’t heard before. Most people with metastatic cancer will die of lung cancer, that’s just a fact, and skews results.

    In any case this was a very enjoyable read. Great work. Thank You

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