“We know It can kill us but we still smoke” – We ask, Why?

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death. According to World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco use is currently responsible for the death of one in ten adults worldwide (about 5 million deaths each year). Moreover, unless circumstances changes, within 25 years the annual death toll will double; millions more will prematurely develop tobacco related illnesses that lead to chronic disability.

Approximately 1,200 children start smoking everyday. This represents a huge impact not only in terms of economic costs but it is slowly depriving the country of a healthy workforce and increasing the burden of disease in the already overburdened health sector.

Parental smoking behaviors have been found to play a key role not only in youth initiation but also in the escalation of their smoking habits.  Some studies indicate that youth having at least one smoking parent are more likely to begin smoking themselves. Others have suggested that children with at least one smoking parent are significantly more likely to progress to higher levels of smoking, compared to children whose parents do not smoke.

Numerous authors have observed that a young person’s decision to smoke is directly influenced by peers’ smoking behavior. In terms of smoking initiation, children whose friends smoke are significantly more likely to begin smoking compared to those whose friends do not smoke, even after adjusting for other variables.

A smoker says: “Yes. It’s a terrible habit that I wish I’d never started. My father’s a smoker, and I can see the effect it’s had on him. I think about it, but I don’t stop. Maybe I just lack the self-control, or I haven’t felt the impact enough to push me over the edge. I tried quitting dozens of times. And I don’t feel like I’m prepared right now”. Another smoker highlighted that “Cigarette is an escape from reality; it takes you to this brief happy place, where everything will be alright”.

Exposure to smoking in private and public places may also influence tobacco use initiation, maintenance, and cessation. In addition, tobacco marketing strategies can be persuasive. Several studies show the marketing and advertising works, and increases the likelihood that youth will start smoking.