Why Do People Smoke Cigarettes?

In 2016, approximately 37.8 million American men and women reportedly smoked cigarettes, with more than 75 percent of them smoking every day. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths in the United States each year, including 41,000 from second-hand smoke. That makes tobacco the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in this country. In fact, smoking is associated with cancer, heart disease and stroke, gum disease, asthma and other chronic lung conditions, Type-2 diabetes as well as serious complications of diabetes.

People with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are much more likely to smoke than the general population. Often, perhaps, it's an attempt to cope with negative feelings. Smoking is not a valid treatment for any mental health condition, however, and won’t make anyone feel better in the long run. Smoking only increases the risk of developing tobacco-related diseases.     

Who Is At Risk for Nicotine Addiction?

Most people who smoke start young, in their teenage years, often because they have friends or family members who also smoke. The younger the smoker is when he or she starts to smoke, the higher the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, a naturally occurring drug found in tobacco that, in the short term, can distract from unpleasant feelings. Once a smoker becomes dependent on nicotine, however, they experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that last for days or weeks, making it very difficult to quit. Someone addicted to nicotine will continue to smoke even though they know it's bad for their health.


Addiction, Adolescence

What Is Vaping?

Some smokers use e-cigarettes or “vapes” as a substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products. E-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which can stunt the growth of a developing adolescent brain. E-cigarette aerosol is potentially harmful, but it does have fewer chemicals than the 7,000 found in regular cigarette smoke. These devices contain elements including chemicals such as diacetyl—a flavorant linked to lung disease—harmful organic compounds, fine particles that can be inhaled, metals like nickel, tin, and lead. Vaping devices come in a range of shapes and sizes, but all include a battery, a place to hold the liquid being vaped, and some kind of heating element. While usually used with nicotine, vaping can also deliver marijuana or other drugs. Vaping devices are considered especially unsafe for teens and pregnant women.



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