Why the HELL does anyone smoke?

People seem to feel as strongly about this as about religion and the Jill vs. Melin Celebrity Death-Match, so I hope I have opened a nice wriggly can of worms.

Shall I start? No, I don’t believe cigarettes should be made illegal–that didn’t work with booze in the '20s and it wouldn’t work now. I do believe non-smokers should be protected from smokers, who sicken and kill more innocent people each year than heroin and coke addicts combined (a case CAN be made for alcoholics killing more people than smokers). I have seen in my own family what havoc second-hand smoke can cause healthwise, so please don’t tell me it’s not dangerous.

But why the hell would anyone in their right mind smoke? I see supposedly normal intelligent people walking down the street puffing away and all I can think is, “are you INSANE?” Is it that people start when they’re too young and stupid to know any better, and now they don’t have the will power to quit? If nothing else, why would you hand over so much of your hard-earned cash to evil tobacco execs who will gladly dance on your grave?


Well, you do get to smell like Humphrey Bogart.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Yeah . . . dead.

Like nearly everyone who ever smoked, I started as a teen. 16, to be exact. Prior to that time, I had mocked and chided my friends and hassled my mother and other family members, telling them they were all gonna die with blackened lungs. Yet, because my friends were smoking, I felt left out, wanted to join in the “fun” of being a smoker.

I have a compulsive-addictive personality to begin with (I was already very overweight), so adding some new oral and chemical fixation was not a great idea. The first day i took up smoking, I smoked a pack and kept at it from that day forward.

I have tried to quite several times. It’s extremely difficult. It has been said by people with more scientific knowledge than I ever hope to have that nicotine is more powerfully addictive than heroin, and I believe it.

I hate it. Except for one or two cigarettes in the morning, I mostly do not get any pelasure from it, yet find myself driven to do it all day long. I hate the smell, the cost, the ostracism I endure, the taste in my mouth, and most of all the constant fear that I’m killing myself. But still I do it. I feel compelled. It’s comepletely fucked up.

I’m hoping that I will find it slightly easier now that I live with my fiance and have had to adjust to not smoking inside. It has definitely cut my smoking in half. So hopefully I will soon be able to get rid of it altogether. I just have to remember that I am a drug addict and that by giving it up I am doing only good and there is nothing to feel badly about.

Good luck to me, eh?

We do precision guesswork

Thank you, Stoidela, you have explained more to me about smokers than I’ve ever heard before–and I really do hope you can quit someday. Get your fiance to help! Especially if you’re ever planning to have kids.

You were too nice for the BBQ Pit, though–I was expecting to get jumped all over, and here you are being polite and informative! You’re going to completely screw up my negative view of smokers if you’re not careful . . .

I just quit a month ago (Zyban rules) after smoking since I was 19 and getting up to two packs a day.

I love tobacco. In fact, since I am of the “Eat well, stay fit, die anyway” school of thought, if Marlboro promised me a lifetime supply of smokes for free, I’d light up right now…

But it costs too much so I quit.

But as for what I liked about it: Just about everything. The feel of the warm cigarette in my hand and mouth. The smoke going into my lungs, held in for a moment, and exhaled, giving my mouth and nose the smell of sweet tobacco.

I also loved the calming effect the nicotine offered me when stressed, and I really miss smoking after:

a) Great sex
b) A nice meal

Yes, the cliches are true…

Sure it was gonna kill me. And of course before I did it, I didn’t get the appeal either. But after being addicted, I loved it, and though I swear I will do my best to not smoke again, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.

Very much…

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

ICQ 35294890
AIM Scrabble1
Yahoo Messenger Brian_ONeill

Stoidela, quitting is hard. I finally quit when I got so disgusted with myself that I couldn’t stand it anymore. The only advice that I can (or will) give you is to find a good support group. The long-term programs are best (mine went for 6 months). I found one at a local hospital by calling their physician referral number.

Being around people who’d been there was invaluable. They also helped me by making me plan ahead for high-stress situations (e.g., visits from my mother, who still smokes and who tried to sabotage my efforts). I made it, though! :slight_smile:

A lot of people who’ve never smoked, and some who have, underestimate the difficulty. Besides the addictiveness (is that a word?), nicotine is an appetite suppressant and a central nervous system stimulant. It improves concentration, short-term memory, etc. It has other “positive” side effects, which I can’t remember offhand (this is stuff I learned in my smoking-cessation support group, about 3 years ago, so I’m a little fuzzy on the details). Plus, there’s the fact that cigarettes are very easy to get, and that smoking is “cool”, at least at the beginning. This is what gets a lot of kids started (plus it’s a way of being rebellious that PO’s parents and teachers but doesn’t immediately kill you). That wears off pretty soon, but by then, you’re hooked.

In short, it’s really easy to start smoking, and really hard to stop. I have to say, though, it’s such a relief not to “need” a cigarette all the time!

The Cat In The Hat

An excellent topic, and one in which I have a great deal of professional interest.

Stoidela is quite correct: almost all tobacco users initiate use as adolescents. We know very little about their initial tobacco use episodes, but ,having reviewed what we do know, my opinion is that tobacco users:

use tobacco the first time to be part of a group

are aided in their initial use by group members

interpret the negative experience of a first use (i.e., taste, nausea, coughing) with the help of group members. For example, a novice might hack and cough and feel dizzy upon first smoking. The experienced user (who gave the novice the cigarette and the match with which to light it) might say “Yeah, I felt like that too – but it goes away after a few cigs”

As cigarette use becomes more regular, tolerance does develop to these nasty sensations. Unfortunately, with increasing tolerance comes increasing dependence. The dependent user smokes to avoid withdrawal more than for any meaningful/logical reason. So herein lies at least part of the answer to the original question. Smokers smoke to avoid the unpleasnt withdrawal they would feel if the didn’t. If you were dependent, you’d probably do it to.

If you are a heavy caffeine user and you would like to understand better why smokers smoke, abstain from all caffeine for 3-4 days. If you can do it, you may understand a little bit where Stoidela, and many smokers, is/are coming from.


  1. Hang in there. Quitting is like learning how to ride a bike. Everyone falls, but eventually you do it and never forget. If you’ve cut down halfway due to a change in living arrangements, you are making solid progress.

  2. If you don’t mind sharing, and you can recall anything about your first smoking episode, what was it like? Were you alone or with smoking peers? Did you feel sick or feel nothing? Did you inhale on that first cigarette? The second?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Exactly :wink:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy


Youa re more than welcome. I guess you don’t personally know any smokers, though, or you’d know our deep dark secret: we are just folks. Just poor, pathetic, misguided folks who made a stupid decision when we were kids and now pay the price. We come in all flavors, just like any bunch of folks. The only thing that is the same about all of us is that we smoke.

You may have come across some militant smokers in your life, smokers who, in my opinion, feel so frustrated and stupid for having taken up such an insane habit, can’t just cop to it and feel the need to somehow defend or justify it. I’ve never been like that. The few times I quit, I learned immediately how offensive smoking is to those who don’t…the smell is overpowering, so I understand completely why non-smokers don’t like it around. (My fiance is always telling me after I come in from having a cig that I smell like I’m on fire.)

Jerry Seinfeld, in his book, made a very amusing (of course) observation about smokers: perhaps it’s a macho kind of thing, something like: “I have fire right in my face and it doesn’t bother me at all!”.


You sound like a guy that is going to be smoking again before long. Let me recommend a book to you…shit, I’ll have to go find it, it’s something like “The easiest way to quit in the world” or soemthing. Bottom line to it is that the whole book is spent disabussing you of yoru false beliefs about your smoking, such as the idea that it calms you, which it doesn’t. But I can’t do it here, you really should read the book. It will help you transform your thinking about it so you will be able to STAY a non-smoker. Taking one drug to be rid of another doesn’t sound like such a great idea to me.

Cat: thanks for the encouragement. I am reading the book I suggested to Satan because I do think it is crucial to change my mindset about smoking in order to successfully rid myself of it, never need it, never want it.

Eiss: I was at a party on the last day of school. It was an all-night pool party, and like most Hollywood kids in 1974, we were smoking pot and taking other drugs. Cigarettes were jsut part of the mix. I inhaled, I liked the look and feel of the cigarette in my hand. I used to love to watch my hand with a cigarette in it, isn’t that ridiculous? I didn’t feel sick, and I kept smoking all night. My lungs felt pretty thrashed the following day, but that iddn’t stop me.

Nowadays, it blows my mind to watch old TV shows and movies where it looks like EVERYONE smoked! The NEWSCASTERS smoked, for heaven’s sake! And in old movies, two people are puffing away, and then do a lip-lock. YAR! I never do any major kissing without thorough tongue and toothbrushing and gargling first! (One of the many things I hate about my smoking: it totally blows any spontaneous smooching with my honey!)

This is a good thing for me to be talking about…very inspriational.

I remember my first cigarette. My coolest friend, Debbie, taught me how to inhale. It took a few drags to get it right, but once I did I felt incredible–like I was finally cool too. I was addicted almost immediately. After a few months, I was even smoking between classes when I could get away with it. I loved the feeling of being a rebel that I got when I stood there with a cigarette in my hand.

Unfortunately, I was only 14 at the time and many of my peers were pretty impressed that I smoked. By the time I quit (almost 2 years ago at age 30) smoking hadn’t been cool for many years, but I was addicted and I loved my cigarettes. I finally quit because I knew that I was actually an adult and I couldn’t say, “Oh, I’ll quit later.” It really scared me to see older adults smoking and to think that would be me someday soon.

To answer your question about why anyone smokes, I would have to say social reasons. The reason people keep smoking is addiction.

I agree that it’s hard, and I am also an addictive personality. I also, like Satan, really did like smoking – and I still miss it; expect to miss it. It’s been six weeks and I am still using the meds – and I recommend them. Zyban is a blessing, and it’s not replacing one addiction with another because Zyban is not addictive… it’s not even a very strong dose (it’s a version of Welbutron, which is a mood stabilizer, but at doses that are about 1/3 what’s considered theraputic.) The patch is also a help, giving me a little help with the physical aspects while I relearn the mental choices I make. The psychological elements are much harder than the physical, but both should be faced. I know I will not relapse, because there is no way that I want to go through what I’ve faced in the last month or so – once was enough!

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

OK, Eissclam, I’ve got a question for you seeing as you have a professional interest in smoking. How come I’m not addicted?

I had my first cigarette when I was around 10. I smoked on and off through high school. In early college, everybody I knew smoked, so I did, too. Later on, I was with a crowd that didn’t smoke, and I didn’t smoke. Now, I’m a recreational smoker. If I go out on a Friday or Saturday night, I’ll have a few cigarettes. I inhale (only the ultra-lights, though.)

I’ve never had any problems stopping, and even at my most-smokey stages I rarely averaged more than 2 a day. I just never wanted any more than that. If I do start smoking 2-3/day for more than a few days, they start hurting my lungs and stop tasting good, so I stop. It’s never hard to just stop - I just no longer want them.

By all accounts, at one point or another, I should have gotten addicted. Is it possible that for some physical reason nicotine is not addictive for me? Am I just lucky? I often smoke, but I can’t remember the last time I actually finished a pack. They go bad before I’m half through the pack.

I’m with Satan too only I still smoke. I enjoy smoking. I have cut down because it’s gotten so f***ing expensive so I don’t take smoke breaks at work and I only smoke in the afternoons and evenings on weekends (I was never a big fan of the cigarette first thing in the morning thing.) I enjoy the taste of cigarettes and beer or cigarettes and coffee so when I’m sitting around listening to music and drinking a beer I want to smoke a cigarette. When I’m laying about on Sunday afternoon reading and drinking coffee I like to smoke. I like to smoke at the bar, I like to smoke when I drive, I enjoy a smoke after a meal and I LOVE sharing a smoke with my boyfriend after some steamy play.
I know it’s bad for me and I suppose someday I will quit but I don’t want to right now so I’m not going to. I don’t feel guilty and powerless in the face of my addiciton. I just like it for now. At some point I’m sure I will become disgusted with it and quit but now it suits me just fine.

Why do people smoke crack?

Why do people eat junk food until their arteries are clogged?

Why do people gamble away all their money?

Why do people beat their kids?

Why do people…

“I think it would be a great idea” Mohandas Ghandi’s answer when asked what he thought of Western civilization

I grew up in Canada and then went to univerity in the midwest (Go Buckeyes!) which
is the chewing tobacky capital of the world, or so I thought. Anyway I have since moved to Sweden where I learned that it is the chewing tobacky capital of the world. To the point, I have met a number of people that smoked but found it offensive to others, as well as to themselves, the smoke, the smell, etc. and have since started with chewing tobacky to give then their nicotine fix. I know that in the US the picture that is painted of a redneck with a mouth full of drooling brown spit is digusting, but in Sweden they put the chew in their upper lip (which does not create as much saliva) and therefore never, ever spit. In the northern parts of Sweden, even a majority of the beautiful blondes chew tobacco and it accepted socially, as far as the business world, etc. My point… If you have the craving for nicotine, but do not enjoy being an outcast and having to stand outside by yourself several times a day, try putting a Skoal Bandit in your upper lip. It’s just an idea that most people have never thought of.

Not to change the subject, but I gotta ask -

Red Wings, I have veteran clients who have been in Korea, Thailand, and other Eastern countries, I also have a lot of military friends who have been stationed in those countries as well.

Does your name, Red Wings, mean what I think it does?

If so. . . . .

EEeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwww :o


Coarse and violent nudity. Occasional language.

Actually, No!

I thought there was a sports team or something called the Red Wings. Diane, what do you think it means? I’m intrigued… :slight_smile:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

2 + 2 = 4