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Smoking Is Harmful yet Popular , 'Why'?

Updated on June 23, 2020
Hasibul Islam Apon profile image

The author is a medical student with a weird sense of humour and spends a great deal of time exploring human psychology.

Cigarette smoking has always been a burning health issue of the 21st century. Despite the reduction of smokers in recent times, death due to smoking still holds a top position in the list of reasons behind premature death. The health hazards of smoking though known to all , people somehow still cannot quit the habit of smoking. So it is utterly clear that, for striping an individual of the practice of smoking, the reasons behind smoking are to be clearly understood. Study shows that smoking in both adolescents and adults is established as an irresistible habit not only because of biological reasons but also of psychological factors.

Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.

— Mark Twain


Smoking is one of those terms which is quite familiar to people of almost all ages throughout the world. Yet it is also the term which people tend to hide in their conversation in presence of an elderly person as if it’s not decent to associate oneself with smoking . In short, smoking is a taboo to all. Now certain practices are known as taboos for a reason. Generally taboos are practices which society deems inappropriate, hence in most societies unapproved. Smoking on the other hand is not only deemed inappropriate by the society but by also the person who's smoking. Well this is because smoking is one of the few habits whose psychological impact hits far before its physiological effect. Hence, smoking is considered to be an indecent act and always preferred to be kept hidden. Now smoking being a taboo doesn’t explain why about 70% of the global population knowing all these have at least smoked once in their life. It's quite sure that since such a wide range of people have fallen prey to smoking, there ought to be both biological and psychological or reasons which should be backed by socio-economic circumstances.

Smoking : Definition

Smoking to most of the people is burning cigarettes or something similar like hookahs, cigars, pipes, bidis . Generally, smoking is the practice of administering drugs or certain aerosols by burning so that the fumes reaches the lungs rapidly and therefore ingested directly by the bloodstream. Smoking cigarettes (or to be more specific smoking tobacco) regardless of its health hazards is a popular recreational practice now-a-days . However tobacco (containing nicotine) is not the sole element of smoking. Drugs like marijuana, cocaine, opium or hard narcotics (like heroine) can also be administered via smoking.

In a broad sense, anything ingested in the blood via route of lungs falls under the category of smoking as such, mosquito repellent coils are also a form of smoking that we are not aware of.

A brief history of Smoking

Smoking now a days has become a recreational practice of taking drugs,however initially the advent of smoking occurred to serve the purpose of religious practices. The history of smoking dates back as far as to 5000 BC, when the smoking of tobacco and various other hallucinogenic drugs was used to achieve trances and to come into contact with the spirit world [1-3] .The inhalation of smoke was used in religious rituals within the context of sacrifice to the deities [3,4 ]

Again, many of the ancient civilizations like Babylonians ,Chinese, Indians burnt incense as a part of religious practices. After the European exploration [5] and conquest of the Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco quickly spread to the rest of the world. In regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it merged with existing practices of smoking (mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced a new type of social activity and a form of drug intake which previously had been unknown.

But the world first became aware of the harmful effects of smoking in 1602,when an anonymous English author published an essay titled 'Worke of Chimney Sweepers' which stated some harmful effects of fumes.

Before you smoke, ask yourself some questions

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The WHY of Smoking : Psychological factors

Now that we can make a statement of why quitting smoking or avoiding smoking is hard and to some extent impossible, we are to seek the reason of why one starts smoking in the first place. Smoking is like a chain reaction which need certain factors or agents for initiatio. But once started, it keeps going on increasing its impact with time.

In case of human beings, the mother factor behind initiation of smoking in the way human mind thinks or simply our human instincts. Let's explain, human mind is basically the software that runs our body. Under different circumstances, it activates different programs to manage any situation. That means any idea that pops up suddenly in our mind isn’t random at all. Advent of any idea origins from the necessity of solving any problem. Consider recreation for example, any idea for enjoyment originates due to the need of either passing time or adding pace to any monotonous work. Hence the idea or curiosity of smoking also originates to manage certain situations ( mostly during times of depression).
Basically, a person starts smoking during adolescence. Now, of course juveniles are prone to doing daring and unconventional things. But most of the teens start smoking due to peer pressure. A tendency to cope up with friends is one of the prime reasons behind smoking. Again, there maybe a number of reasons ( or problems) , like

▪familial discord
▪academic pressure
▪unsolved love issue
▪inferiority complex

Kids, in their adolescence, think that smoking can provide them with a viable solution to these problem.On the other hand, cigarettes are the easiest available unconventional drugs in market, so juveniles find it much easy to smoke a cigarette and hence falls prey to the chain reaction of smoking .

In case of adults however, the story is different. Since nicotine relieves the mind of worldly pressure for the time being and serves the function of a nerve reliever, adults choose cigarettes as a tool for managing stress and gladly accept the horrible side effects of smoking.

There is one more vital factor that serves as an important reason to start smoking in the first place and not being able to quit smoking. Many people do not know the consequences of smoking. People are unaware of the health hazards (pneumonia, emphysema, lung cancer) that smoking bring with it. A proper social awarness (regarding the negative effect of smoking on human health) can reduce the number of smokers to some extent.


Human mind is a complex aggregation of logic and sentiment where none can dominate over the other, hence we always end up adoring certain objects or practices which may pose a threat to our health (physical or mental). Smoking is one of such practices which smokers just can not ignore in an instant. But a deep understanding of the causes and effects of smoking can help an individual to gradually cut short the habit of smoking.

Hasibul Islam ( author)
Hasibul Islam ( author)


[ 1 ] Wilbert J. Does pharmacology corroborate the nicotine therapy and practices of South American shamanism? J.Ethnopharmacol. 1991; 32: 179–186.

[ 2 ] Hughes J. Learning to Smoke: Tobacco Use in the West. Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2003.

[ 3 ] Haustein KO, Groneberg D. Tobacco or Health? Physiological
and Social Damages Caused by Tobacco Smoking. Springer
Science and Business Media, Heidelberg, 2009.

[ 4 ] Elferink JG. The narcotic and hallucinogenic use of tobacco in pre-Columbian Central America. J. Ethnopharmacol.1983; 7: 111–122.

[ 5 ] Gately I. La Diva Nicotina: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced
the World. Simon & Schuster, London, 2002.

“The true face of smoking is disease, death, and horror – not the glamor and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray. ”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Hasibul Islam Apon


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