Most people who smoke do so because they are addicted to nicotine.
But that wasn’t always the case, and all smokers must have started smoking for one or other reasons — maybe they were looking for approval from their peers, or believed that it would help them lose weight.
Whatever the reason, most individuals who take up smoking as little more than a recreational pursuit soon find that they are addicted. And the myths associated with smoking are little more than just myths.
Smoking Makes You Look Cool
If you were a 1940s movie star, for whom smoking was as de rigueur as a long, belted rain coat, a beret, and penciled-in eyebrows, then, maybe, yes. But you’re not. And now that smoking is prohibited in all public buildings, smokers are looking less cool by the day. If they want a cigarette, smokers now have to stand outside in all weathers doing their best to convince themselves that they really are enjoying smoking — and that hypothermia really isn’t setting in. There have got to be easier ways to look cool.
Many young women take up smoking because they believe it makes them look cool (this adjective covers a host of others such as sexy, world-weary, and experienced — all reasons young women may choose to smoke). They see photos of models and actresses smoking and think that it can do little damage if someone as good-looking as Jennifer Aniston smokes. Yet young adults underestimate the dangers of smoking, believing that they can quit at any time. Research shows that nearly 90 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before they were 19 years old. It’s a self-inflicted sentence and one that can be avoided. Furthermore, tobacco-related illness is the leading cause of death for adult women. So the next time you see some lovely looking celebrity with a cigarette poking out from between her manicured fingers, just tell yourself that while you will never have her fame or looks, if you don’t smoke nor will you have her crippling nicotine addiction.
Smoking Keeps You Slim
This is another myth that locks women into a life of self-imposed nicotine addiction. Again, it’s usually young women who want to keep their weight down who are influenced by images of slim celebrities and models who smoke. Research suggests that young women use tobacco as an appetite suppressant. However, a study carried out at Glasgow University involving 1000 women aged between 16 and 24 found that they were more likely to put on weight if they started smoking. The researchers found that female smokers’ waists expanded more rapidly than those of non-smokers, and made them more susceptible to developing a flabby midriff as smoking causes muscle damage making it less able to burn fat. The smokers tended to be heavier than the non-smokers, and half the female smokers had a BMI higher than 25, putting them in the overweight or obese category.
Smoking is not the way to lose weight; that can only be achieved by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. And remember, a slim corpse is still a corpse…
Smoking Helps in Social Situations
It used to be the case that smoking could act as a common bond when individuals first met: for smokers, there was immediate membership of a club of sorts and something that they could at least talk about if conversation faltered. That was before smokers were banished to the draughty back doors of bars and clubs, and smoking became something that wasn’t done in quite such a leisurely fashion. However, it seems that it’s impossible to keep a good smoker down, and standing huddled together out of doors has created the perfect environment for smirting. Smirting, a word which has recently crept into the English language, is derived from the words “smoking” and “flirting” and is used to describe what some smokers get up to when forced to smoke al fresco.
Aside from the chance of setting up a date though, some people feel more confident in social settings if they smoke. And while some smokers class themselves as “social smokers” and smoke no more than ten cigarettes a week, they should realize that they are putting their heath at risk with every cigarette they smoke. Furthermore, what some social smokers forget is that nicotine is addictive, so this type of smoking can be the slippery slope to their becoming a fully-fledged smoker — with a fully-fledged nicotine addiction.
“My Neighbor Smoked and She Lived to be 92…”
This is the Russian roulette approach to life expectancy and smoking-related diseases. While it’s believed that an individual’s genetic make-up influences their risk of contracting smoking-related illnesses, evidence shows that among people who have ever smoked any kind of tobacco, almost one in 10 will develop lung cancer, and that one in six men who continue to smoke will develop the disease.
And while the prospect of living to 92 may be attractive, quality of life has to be considered. While a smoker may live to a ripe old age, they will almost certainly spend years with a hacking cough, stained teeth and fingernails, awful-smelling hair, and the physical features of someone twenty years their senior — not to mention subjecting themselves to the risk of contracting smoking-related diseases and illnesses.
Anyone wanting to live into their 90s has a better chance of doing so if they stop smoking now. Twelve months after quitting smoking, the increased risk of heart disease associated with smoking is reduced by half, and after ten years the increased risk of lung cancer associated with smoking is less than half of that of someone who continues to smoke.
International Journal of Obesity
World Health Report 2002
Canadian Journal of Public Health
US Surgeon’s Report