Why do people start smoking? Top 10 reasons

Most people who smoke start around or before age 18. Top 10 reasons people start smoking (based on research!) here.

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Why do people smoke?

Smoking has interested health organizations, governments, and non-profits since the 1980’s. This is because smoking cigarettes is associated with enormous social costs in health care and is highly addictive. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids , smoking has been associated with 400,000 deaths every year in the U.S., $96B in health care costs and $97B in lost productivity costs. So, researchers started looking into ways to prevent people from smoking.

The strategy of cigarette smoking prevention has lead to many studies which attempt to identify the predictors or risk factors which lead people to smoke. We actually have quite a lot of literature on the matter! And seeing that children and teens make up the majority of all new smokers, dozens of studies have been completed which examine how and why young people start smoking. Of the hundreds of reasons why people smoke and start to smoke, we attempt here to provide you with the most well-accepted predictors of smoking here.

Top 10 reasons people start smoking

1. Family attitudes that condone smoking – Young people who start smoking in their teen years frequently have siblings, parents, grandparents or “broader family” members who smoke. The risk that a person start smoking is often higher if one or both parents smoke.

2. Peer pressure – Peer smoking is a stronger predictor of smoking onset for high school students. And the number of cigarette offers made to students can affect whether or not they become smokers, or not. Also, young people who play sports are less likely to smoke.

3. Copycatting what is cool in popular culture – Although peer and family influences have been shown to be powerful predictors of adolescent smoking, social influences also exist in the larger cultural sphere. Movies, advertisements, and other forms of media shape teen views of what is “cool,” attractive, and grown up. Therefore, some people start smoking to emulate their heroes or to embody what is chic.

4. Sociodemographic factors – The environment in which a person grows up in has an indirect but powerful influence on whether or not s/he will smoke. Young people living in or at the poverty line, with one parent who has little education are most at risk of becoming smokers.

5. Personality traits – Internal determinants of smokers include certain inborn or nutured personality traits such as unconventionality, risk taking, thrill seeking or rebelliousness.

6. Making up for poor social or personal skills – Young people who are less socially competent, who are not trained in refusal self-efficacy, who participate in antisocial activities, who have low self-esteem or who are disengaged from school may be more attracted to smoking than those who are socially engaged and confident.

7. Smoking for weight loss – Some people start smoking because they worry about their weight and figure and smoke to try to be thinner.

8. Availability – Although it is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors and in some States smoking by minors is also illegal, cigarettes are highly available to young people. In fact, the more smokers there are who smoke around children, the more children have an opportunity to handle cigarettes and smoking accessories from an early age: they get, buy, or even light cigarettes. So, some people start smoking simply because cigarettes are around.

9. Already using other drugs – Teens who already smoke marijuana, drink alcohol, or use illicit drugs are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who do not, perhaps due to a decreased perception of harm.

10. Stress relief – Some people initiate tobacco use because they believe that it helps them cope with personal problems or boredom.

Do you have something to add here? Or do you have a question or comment about the above? Please leave your comments below and we are happy to respond personally and promptly to each.

Reference sources: Tobacco Use Among Youth
Why children start smoking cigarettes: Predictors of onset
Can parents influence smoking?
Where do our children learn to smoke?
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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