Man has become the slave of smoking. Cigarette addiction has become a global concern with the numbers increasing every minute. Every year, hundreds of non-smokers die just because they inhale cigarette smoke and are close to smokers. Is it even fair for somebody to die because of the consequences caused by another human?
A lot of people pick up the habit of smoking due to stress or any personal reason, But can any anxiety become so intolerable that a person is willing to take small steps towards his death each day by smoking such a harmful substance?
Cultural and Historical perspectives
To understand the present psychology of smoking and its addiction, it is important to know about its social history, its role in everyday cultural practices, and what impact it has on our modern world as well as on the values people attach to it.
Every culture has its notions of smoking. Northern Europeans adopted the practice of pipe smoking and Spaniards brought the practice of cigar smoking. Tobacco was introduced into the court of Catherine de Medicis and Elizabeth I. Many Europeans believed tobacco to become a new herb that should be incorporated into Western medical traditions.
In India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and West Africa, tobacco was grown by the beginning of the 17th century. From serving different forms, smoking become an established ritual throughout the world. It was shown in artworks, stageplays, and literary sources and was seen as a central component of manhood.
Nicotine dependency and health effects
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is taken by using tobacco, especially cigarettes. It is a type of drug, a main psychoactive ingredient in tobacco products, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream so it can reach the brain and create a temporary feeling of relaxation and well-being.
As Nicotine also increases the level of dopamine, creating a sense of pleasure and reward, People find it an escape from reality and assume it as a stress buster. The intake of nicotine releases Endorphins, which is a chemical that helps in stress relieving and improving the mood, eventually becoming an addiction for them. Long-term consumption by any individual makes them an addict and they have to deal with dangerous health effects as a result.
Nicotine dependency causes various effects on the functioning of our body and makes it more sluggish, including
- Severe headaches and lack of sleep
- Increased blood pressure and shortness of breath
- Frequent tremors, changes in blood flow as well as heart rhythm
- It affects cell proliferation and can lead to cancer and many more.
The Gen Z generation knows everything. The generation has adopted certain harmful practices for entertainment purposes. They have brought a new smoking era where lighting cigarettes has become a “Cool” activity which is a casual thing for them.
Data says that nearly 9 out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking by age 18. New flavourings and different varieties in the tobacco products make it more appealing to the Youth sections. Within that, E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among youth since 2014. The addiction makes the youths more prone to panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression. Also, various factors such as peer pressure, social environment, and media portrayals contribute to teen smoking.
Marketing and advertising
Tobacco companies use various sophisticated methods to capture their target audience They create brand loyalty by promoting their products through actors or actresses which creates a deep impact on the viewers and they perceive it to be a joyful thing to do because a famous personality has portrayed it.
They use creative methods to trigger the addiction, such as associating smoking with a lifestyle, developing innovative product designs and using appealing imagery. Social media has served as the biggest contributor platform for such promotions. Through social media, these companies reach a larger audience.
A recent example of New Zealand should be considered. The country became the world’s first nation to ban smoking, then took it back because tobacco products were the largest contributor to the country’s economy in the form of excise taxation.
The government has introduced various regulations to curb the addiction and has restricted the practice of smoking. It is also completely banned in public places and workplaces such as health, education, government facilities, and public transport.
In India, awareness programmes such as the National Tobacco Control Programme have been an initiative aimed at spreading awareness of tobacco consumption and its harmful effects, reducing the production and supply of tobacco products, and facilitating the proper implementation of strategies for the prevention and control of tobacco advocated by WHO framework convention for Tobacco control.
Reducing overall tobacco consumption requires a multifaceted approach. Quitting cigarettes is not a one-day task especially when it becomes a part of one’s lifestyle but, with willpower and dedication, one can overpower the addiction.