Thursday, April 08, 2004

Why Does Anyone Smoke?

Could someone please explain this to me, especially in this day and age? What motivates anyone to pick up a habit that is so expensive over the long term, so ruinous to one's health, and so offensive to so many others? It's one thing for those who acquired the habit before broad public awareness of its ills to keep on doing so, and quite another thing entirely for young people, especially supposedly intelligent ones, to do so despite being fully aware of the likely consequences.

The question I'm posing isn't a rhetorical one, although I'll confess that it's motivated in great part by the acute discomfort the smell of cigarette smoke causes me. I've always been hypersensitive to the odor of cigarette smoke, and there's no surer way for me to get sinus trouble than to inhale the stuff for any but the briefest periods. In fact, so unpleasant do I find the smell that I'd much rather be around a roomful of marijuana smokers than expose myself to a cigarette smoker's exhalations, and I imagine a great many others feel the same way. Considering the strong distaste so many people have for the habit, it seems to me that there have to be pretty powerful reasons for anyone to willingly submit to the process of getting addicted to nicotine; the problem is that I find it hard to imagine what these reasons could be. Peer pressure? Even amongst the "best and brightest?" Are there really so many weak-willed people even amongst the intellectual elite that the need to fit in can override an awareness of all the negatives associated with cigarette use?