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Why We Smoke

None of the much flaunted appeals by cigarette advertisers, such as superior taste and mildness, induce us to become smokers or to choose one brand in preference to another. Despite the emphasis put on such qualities by advertisers, they are minor considerations. This is one of the first facts we discovered when we asked several hundred people, from all walks of life, why they liked to smoke cigarettes. Smoking is as much a psychological pleasure as it is a physiological satisfaction. It is not the taste that counts- it's that sense of satisfaction you get from a cigarette. This satisfaction you cannot get from nicotine gum or patches because of the way they are delivered into the body.


Smoking is Fun What is the nature of this psychological pleasure? It can be traced to the universal desire for self-expression. None of us ever completely outgrow our childhood. We are constantly hunting for the carefree enjoyment we knew as children. As we grew older, we had to subordinate our pleasures to work and to the necessity for unceasing effort. For many of us smoking then became a substitute for our early habit of following the whims of the moment; it becomes a legitimate excuse for interrupting work and snatching a moment of pleasure. "You sometimes get tired of working intensely," said an accountant whom we interviewed, "and if you sit back for the length of a cigarette, you feel much fresher afterwards. It's a peculiar thing, but I wouldn't think of just sitting back without a cigarette. I guess a cigarette somehow gives me a good excuse."


Smoking is a Reward Most of us are hungry for rewards. We want to be patted on the back. A cigarette is a reward that we can give ourselves as often as we wish. When we have done anything well, for instance, we can congratulate ourselves with a cigarette, which certifies, in effect, that we have been "good". We can promise ourselves: "When I have finished this piece of work, when I have written the last page of my report, I'll deserve a little fun. I'll have a cigarette." The first and last cigarette of the day, are especially significant rewards. The first one, smoked is a sort of anticipated recompense. The smoker has work to do, and he eases himself into the day's activities as pleasantly as possible. He gives himself a little consolation prize in advance, and at the same time manages to postpone the evil hour when he must begin his hard day's work. The last cigarette of the day is like "closing a door." It is something quite definite. One smoker explained: "I nearly always smoke a cigarette before going to bed. That finishes the day. I usually turn the light out after I have smoked the last cigarette, and then turn over to sleep." Often a smoker may not even want a cigarette particularly, but he will see someone else take one and then he feels that he must have one, too. To many people smoking is fun, and a reward in itself, it more often accompanies other pleasures in life.


The Cigarette - A Modern Hourglass Frequently the burning down of a cigarette functions psychologically as a time indicator. A smoker waiting for someone who is late says to himself, "Now I'll smoke one more cigarette, and then I am off." It is much easier to watch a cigarette get smaller and smaller than to keep watching a clock and look at the hands dragging along. In some countries, the farmers report distances in terms of the number of pipes, for example, "It's about three pipes from here to Small town." A cigarette not only measures time, but also seems to make time pass more rapidly. That is why waiting periods almost automatically stimulates the desire to smoke. Impatience is a common feature of our times, but there are many situations which compel us to be patient. When we are in a hurry, and yet have to wait, a cigarette gives us something to do during that trying interval. The experience of wanting to act, but being unable to do so, is very unpleasant and may even, in extreme cases, cause attacks of nervous anxiety.


With a Cigarette I Am Not Alone Smokers have remarked that smoking cigarettes is like being with a friend. The companionable character of cigarettes is also reflected in the fact that they help us make friends. In many ways, smoking has the same effect drinking has by breaking down social barriers. Two smokers out on a date light up a cigarette as soon as they get into their car. Immediately they feel at ease, for they have found an interest they both share.


I Like to Watch the Smoke In mythology and religion, smoke is full of meaning. Its floating intangibility and unreal character have made it possible for imaginative person to see therein mystery and magic. Even for us smoke has a strong fascination. To the cigarette smoker, the clouds he puffs out seem to represent a part of himself. Just as most people like to watch their own breath on cold winter days, so they like to watch cigarette smoke, which similarly makes one's breath visible. The desire to make things is deep-rooted and smoke is manufactured by the smoker himself. Smoking also provides satisfaction because it is a playful whilst being a creative activity


Got a Match Some of the appeals of a lighted cigarette derive from the appeals of fire in general. Fire is the symbol of life, and the idea of fire is surrounded by much superstition. In this connection, it is interesting to note that traces of superstition can be seen in the smoking habits of modern person. For instance some people never will light three cigarettes on one match based on experiences during World War I. As three soldiers were lighting up the third man was hit when the light of a match flared up for the last time. The custom of lighting another smoker's cigarette for them may serve as a friendly gesture or even have an erotic significance.


Smoking Mannerisms Usually the way we smoke is characteristic of our whole personality. The mannerisms of smokers are innumerable. Some people always have cigarettes drooping from their mouths. Others let the cigarette jump up and down in their mouths while they are talking. Often smokers will assume a pose, because they have found that it fits their personality best, or at least they think so. A not too modest glamour girl revealed to us some of her smoking secrets: "I think it looks so much better to smoke with a holder. Don't you think I'm somewhat of a Latin type? It all really depends on what type you are... I always have holders that are long and dark. I think a long holder is somewhat like a big hat: it's alluring and 'don't dare come close' at the same time." While every smoker has to go through the motions of lighting and inhaling the smoke, the way in which these acts are carried out varies according to his mood. The nervous smoker has a faster smoking tempo than the relaxed one. The angry smoker blows the smoke in an aggressive way, almost as if he were trying to blow somebody down.


Smoking Helps Me Think The mind can concentrate best when all outside stimuli have been excluded. Smoking literally provides a sort of "smoke screen" that helps to shut out distractions. This explains why many people cannot think or write without a cigarette. It is argued that moderate smoking may even stimulate mental alertness by giving a focal point for our attention. It also gives our hands something to do; otherwise they might make us self-conscious and interfere with mental activity. On the other hand, the act of smoking too much may reduce their efficiency.


Cigarettes Help Us to Relax One shortcoming of our modern culture is the universal lack of adequate relaxation. Many of us not only do not know how to relax, but do not take time to learn. Smoking helps us to relax because, like music, it is rhythmic. Smoking gives us a legitimate excuse to linger a little longer after meals, to stop work for a few minutes, to sit at home without doing anything that requires effort. The restful effect of moderate smoking explains why people working under great stress smoke more cigarettes.


I Blow My Troubles Away In times of high tension, cigarettes provide relief. On a scientific level smoking brings relief. Worry and anxiety depress us not only psychologically but also physiologically. When a person feels depressed, the rhythm of his breathing becomes upset. A short and shallow breath creates a heavy feeling in the chest. Smoking may relieve mental depression by forcing a rhythmic expansion of the breast and thus restoring the normal pace of breathing. The "weight on the chest" is removed. This connection between smoking and respiration accounts for the common expression, "Smoking helps us to let off steam." When enraged, we breathe heavily and smoking makes us breathe more steadily, and thus calms us down.


Cigarette Taste Has to Be Acquired Most people like the smell of tobacco but dislike the taste of a cigarette. One usually very much dislikes his first cigarette. Taste for cigarettes must be acquired slowly. Whenever a smoker tries out a new brand, with a slightly different taste, he finds that he has to repeat this process of becoming accustomed to the taste. Often smokers who say they do not like the taste of certain brands really means that they are not accustomed to it. Few advertisers of cigarettes realise that it takes time for a smoker to change his taste habits.


How Many a Day? Despite all the millions spent on comparing the potentially harmful effects of different brands of cigarettes, smokers seemed very little concerned about this matter. However even those who do not smoke excessively, worry about the quantities they smoke. Scientific and medical studies on the physiological effects of smoking provide a clear picture: by concluding that smoking is harmful. The mind has a powerful influence on the body, and may produce symptoms of physical illness. Guilt feelings may cause harmful physical effects not at all caused by the cigarettes used, which may be extremely mild. Such feelings alone may be the real cause of the consequences.


The First Cigarette Much of this guilt feeling can be traced directly to one's first cigarette, which the older generation remembers as a forbidden and sinful thing. Their fathers considered the habit an educational problem, whereas many parents nowadays have adopted a "modern" attitude toward smoking.


No, Thanks, I'll Smoke My Own This is the reply of most smokers when they are offered a brand different from their own. Brand loyalty among smokers is strong and persistent. Individuals smoke one brand consistently, so that they become identified with it. A guest who discovers that his host smokes the same brand considers this a personal flattery. If a young lady changes to the brand of an admirer, he understands that he has surely made an impression.

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