It's no secret that tobacco companies market to teenagers, as most people start smoking at this age. They see smoking as a right of passage, marking them as adults. Over much of tobacco advertising's history, cigarettes have been shown in advertisements to be cool or sociable. Back when cigarette ads were allowed on TV, even Steve McQueen was hocking them:
Once someone starts smoking, the company probably has a customer for life.
A recent ban on flavored cigarettes was directed specifically at this market: a 2007 study showed that a seventeen-year-old was three times more likely to smoke flavored cigarettes than someone over twenty-five. This follows a long line of restrictions to reduce teenage smoking, including the ban on cigarette vending machines and television ads.
Smoking is a ritual. In one R. J. Reynolds internal document, an executive claimed, "We aren't in the cigarette business, we're in the smoke business." It's tied to certain activities, like drinking, taking a break, or relaxing after a meal.
There are three main factors that affects who smokes and the amount they smoke:
Stress - People who are naturally high-strung or are in stressful situations are more likely to smoke than those who have more relaxed lives. While nicotine is a stimulant, it also causes the brain to release dopamine which "takes the edge off" so-to-speak, making smokers feel calmer.
Ability to smoke - Smokers won't go out of their way to find an area where they can smoke.
Proximity to smokers - People are more likely to smoke if they are around other smokers, particularly at home.
Why do people keep smoking?
Most smokers continue to smoke because of addiction. Studies have shown it's easier to quit using heroin and cocaine than cigarettes. Cravings for tobacco can last for months, even after other withdrawal symptoms like irritability and increased appetite have subsided, making it difficult for even the most determined person to break the habit. The social associations boost these cravings, reminding the ex-smoker they would normally be lighting up.
Posted 3690 day ago