If it is not smoking cigarettes, it is taking a hit through pen vapes, if it is not vaping it is the latest trend of “juuling”. There is no end to the trend of smoking. So the question is: why does humanity seem to be obsessed with inhaling substances and blowing out clouds of smoke and vapour? What satisfaction is there in the act that they are willing to overlook the risks that this particular activity pose on their health?
In a study published in the early 2000s, psychologists were able to categorize smokers into three distinct categories: smokers who believe smoking is able to help them enjoy life, smokers who finds the appeal of smoking to release stress and smokers who do it because everyone else around them are smoking as well, making them social smokers.
Smokers do not associate smoking with negative connotations such as how one might view a heroin addict – even though both are addictive substances. Smoking is associated with class and fashion, whereas a heroin user might be viewed as dirty, unstable and someone to stay away from. This is largely due to the way smoking is portrayed in the media. It looks as though they are harmless and serve no other purpose than to “look cool”.
Logan from Wolverine is seldom seen without his fat cigar and he would not be the same without it. While it is lazy characterization by Hollywood, it is effective in influencing impressionable young minds who would like to be more like their role-models and emulate them through their fashion sense and habits.
Parents are a child’s first role model and if parents smoke in front of their children, it will not only expose them to secondhand smoke which is health threatening on its own, it will also desensitize children to the act itself.
Think about it this way: if you want your children to be academically successful, you will have to lead by example and create a household that takes academics very seriously. It is the same with music, sports and other hobbies you might want your family to embody. This works both ways – a child who grew up in a tough neighbourhood will normalize what he or she has seen in their childhood. From drugs to robbery, if it happens at every corner, it becomes a part of daily life.
This is why it is so important never to smoke in front of impressionable young kids as you do not want to desensitize them to smoking. The further you stay from smoking, the more children will respect that distance and hesitate to cross it. The best thing for parents to do is to quit smoking.
Finding reason to quit is the secret behind every success story. While everyone knows of the ill-effects that smoking wreaks upon one’s body, it is a different story to let the knowledge affect one’s habits. If they are only harming themselves, it does not seem so bad. But when what they are doing is affecting someone else, perhaps they will find that they are more motivated to do something about it. According to one psychologist, a man who “failed to quit smoking for several years” was able to kick the habit overnight when his wife mentioned how “she hated coming home to a smoke-filled house”. This is a classic case of denying one’s morality and putting someone else’s health over our own. In the psychiatrist’s own words: “most of us tend to deny the possibility of our own death far more vigorously than we deny the possibility of everyone else’s”.
The severity of smoking seems lost on the ears of a smoker. They know it is bad for them and yet they persist. Perhaps due to the fact that warning labels are everywhere nowadays – prevalent to the point of being ineffective. Much like a mother’s nagging, you keep hearing the same thing but nothing bad seems to happen so you continue on your life ignoring and letting the nags fall on deaf ears. If campaigns were made more elusive, it might be more effective. Instead of plastering pictures of throat cancer patients or the results of a miscarriage, or even the lungs of a smoker, on every possible surface, the impacts of seeing just one picture when they walk past a health billboard or a hospital might send a more powerful message.
From family life to media portrayal, we cannot seem to escape the imagery of cigarette smoking but you can shape the minds of the next generation by providing appropriate information, instill a sense of why smoking is bad and liken it to a crime (which is what many religions do) and refrain from making it seem acceptable. Perhaps in a generation or two, human civilization will evolve to the point of dropping this culture altogether.