Why do we still smoke?

No this isn’t an entry about you waffling your way through an essay. It’s really about…

SMOKING…

We all know it’s bad for our health, yet we still do it. Governments know it too, yet cigarettes continue to be legally available in most countries albeit with harsh taxes, age limits and warnings.

So why is this so? How can we understand this seemingly masochistic behavior of human society? This blog post succinctly attributes it to the fact smoking is not a new ‘vice’.  Some websites date it back to 5000BC with shamanistic rituals. The habit of course grew exponentially with tobacco trade during the colonial period and modern cigarette development in the early 20th century. Thus, it will be difficult for governments to simply ‘ban’ it altogether–not when millions in a country are still addicted to it (not to mention millions in tax money and strong lobby groups).

But what about the socio-psychological side of things? This report from The Independent boils it down to a complex interplay of addiction, undiagnosed depression, lack of support, desire to be cool, habit, denial and social situation.

So, has the progressive banning of smoking been of any use? This BBC report ponders over the issue with regards to New York City’s decision to ban outdoor smoking. While some believe it is a step in the right direction, others fear it could backfire if groups puffing together in smaller spaces cause worse passive smoking problems. A similar effort in China is also not going to be easy, as this Euronews video reports, citing factors such as enforcement and awareness issues.

Why do you think people in Singapore continue to smoke?

Do you think our government is doing enough? 

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12 thoughts on “Why do we still smoke?

  1. Despite SIngaporean being aware of the adverse effects of smoking, this habit is still ubitiqous and persistent in our society. Factors that could possibly contribute to this are:
    i) Smoking liberates individuals from stress
    ii) Peer pressure
    iii) Influence
    iv) Social means
    v) Satisfaction – Pleasure
    vi) Addiction

    Indeed, campaigns such as National Smoking Control Campaign have been carried out but statistics have shown that the number of smokers in Singapore have increased over the years. The government have sought means and ways such as advertisements, tv broadcasts, school talks, disturbing labels on cigarette packs, increased tax on cigarettes, implemented hefty fines on those who sell to minors, limited the number of places permitted to smoke, “quit smoking” hotlines.. I believe that our government has gone their way out to not only stop the smoking habit, but also encourage smokers to seek alternatives, and provided assistance to them. Smoking has become an accessible source for the people and for some, it has become a ‘necessity’. Thus, though the government has enforced policies and campaigns to help them, unless there is a substitute for smoking (next to drugs) that can provide the same satisfaction and pleasure, it will be difficult to eradicate the issur of smoking in Singapore.

    • I think that what Tivona has commented is quite right. I would really trust that our government has been doing quite enough to resolve this social problem.

      But I guess it is the individual’s discretion and liability as to what he or she should be responsible for-like one’s health. Therefore, even though recently there has been a ‘I Quit’ campaign going about, it is due to the smoker’s perseverance and willingness such that they are willing to take the pledge be it for their family or closed ones. Perhaps, it is not so much of how the government can help but how much the person wants to get rid of the addiction. Morover, this addiction may have been started off by the reasons Tivona has stated above.

      Every country has people who smoke. But initially drugs or cigarette substances like nicotine was used to relieve pain and help to cure sicknesses. Yet it has caused more problems like addiction. Thus, it may be difficult to eradicate this smoking phenomenon, but it could be possible if one has the heart to stop.

  2. As most of us are well aware of the harms that do come along with such a habit, I think there are many reasons that contribute to a person picking up smoking in the first place. But I think completely banning smoking in Singapore is definitely not a feasible option and might even backfire should a black market occur. By progressively banning smoking and limiting the number of smoking areas around Singapore, our government has helped in creating a healthier environment for non-smokers and smokers alike. By preventing people from smoking anywhere they like, smokers no longer have the freedom of lighting a cigarette whenever they want, and are more encouraged to be more considerate towards the rest of the public.

  3. I’m sure everyone knows that smoking comes with bad implications; health, image, career-wise and sometimes even in our social lives. However, there are many people in our society who still smoke. Why? For all sorts of reasons (look up at teevee’s).

    Is our government doing enough? Definitely. However, the problem of smoking is not something which can be rectified immediately. It takes time. a decade? maybe two? Who knows? At the end of the day, we might not even get rid of it.

    Non-smokers should accept the fact that smoking is a choice and they should respect people who choose to smoke. All our government can and should be doing is to continue educating on the negative externalities which smoking will bring about which is not only suffered by the smoker himself/herself.

    Smokers should also understand where the government is getting at by restricting the areas of smoking etc. It is not that they are against you and treat you as outcasts. It is simply for the health of the people who choose not to smoke.

    • Wow, what? We’re supposed to accept that smokers smoke? We should definitely recognise their right to smoke, but non-smokers also have to right to breathe in fresh air without the risk of contracting lung cancer or other pulmonary diseases that we’re susceptible to from passive smoking. Won’t it be difficult to accept that my health is at risk just because some guy beside me is smoking?

      Regardless, I understand that smoking is a habit that requires time to break off, so it’s unreasonable to place a complete ban on cigarettes and force them all to go cold turkey. I think Singapore is doing it right, though. The government is slowly implementing laws against smoking and starting anti-smoking campaigns so that the smoking slowly wanes off in Singapore. That’s an ideal situation of course, because it doesn’t seem to be working:

      http://news.xin.msn.com/en/singapore/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4907826

      See, this one says that a majority of smokers do not exactly about other people’s health. Which makes sense, since they’re destroying their own.

      http://www.tobaccofreesingapore.info/2011/02/smoking-in-singapore-on-the-rise-new-approach-needed-urgently/

      And this one says that more people are beginning to smoke regardless.

      I guess we should commend the government for its persistence, though. At least they’re still trying.

      http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC110606-0000018/On-a-mission-to-stub-out-smoking

      Then again, this is a two-way thing. The policies by the government can only work out if the smokers are receptive to it. The government’s clearly trying hard, so I guess it’s up to the smokers now.

      (Impressive comment right, Mr. Foo!)

  4. I really do not understand why Singaporeans are still continuing to smoke when they clearly know the negative effects of smoking. I agree with Tivona that peer pressure and satisfaction are factors as to why Singaporeans are still smoking. Many started trying it out of curiosity or that they were incited by friends. Slowly, they began to get addicted to smoking due to its chemicals. (I dont know how tobacco works but I know that it attracts smokers to continue smoking)

    Our government? Seriously, we can’t say that they didn’t do a lot because they did. Look at all the advertisements and projects! The most recent one is the ” I QUIT” campaign with that 2 finger sign. But I always wonder why they do not want to just ban the sales of cigarettes instead of printing pictures on those packs. But banning have its side effects e.g illegal imports or development of a black market as desperate smokers will find means to get their hands on cigarettes and that people who want to gain easy profits will resort to these type of sales. ( HAHAHS. Learnt this from econs!! )

    Furthermore, the government is able to gain taxes from the sales of cigarettes and the money gained are added to the government revenue that are channeled to other places e.g education or healthcare.

    Then I cant say they are not doing enough when they are doing so much for us. Their best option is to not ban cigarettes sales and yet continue to advise people on its side effects, hoping that it will get through to them (:

  5. I feel that the singapore government has put in a lot of effort to cut down the number of smokers in singapore. This methods include legislation, education and campaigns. The efforts made by the government are commendable because these initiatives often inccurs a lot of administrative costs etc. however, i feel that whatever the singapore government is doing is limited because the tobacco indutry, like said in the passage is still very influencial around the globe. countless number of people all around the world are still addicted to smoking and thus, the tobacco indutry cannot be shut down just like that.

    I feel that in order to tackle this issue effectively, the singapore government needs to work with international organisations such as the United Nations. Countries need to work hand in hand in order to get rid of smoking altogether. methods such as slowly limiting the amount of tobacco trade can be adopted. Though this is a long process that will definitly cost a lot, the benefits that canan be reaped will definitly be worth the while. sahz

  6. Yeah, I too, can see the effort that the government has put into trying their best to stop or at least, minimize, smoking. But even so, no matter how much the government spends on large-scale campaigns, health talks, advertisements and many other forms of discouragement/provision of information to raise awareness about the negative impacts of smoking, not just on smokers but on everyone else around them, it really is up to the smokers themselves.

    Smoking really is a personal choice. No one can force you to smoke (unless they really force one on you, which is highly unlikely), and no one can force you to continue. From my own observation, most people I see smoking are the elderly, and I guess the reason they are smoking is because of addiction as they probably started since a young age and uhh, it’s really quite hard to stop after so many years. Smoking is a personal choice, but quitting is also a personal choice. Millions of dollars can be spent to discourage smoking but ultimately, that’s all we can do. Some might be effectively discouraged, but there will still be people who don’t care. Even if smoking is banned in Singapore, it will just encourage more illegal acts happening and social discontent from smokers. People might start smuggling cigarettes, or spend more time in Malaysia just to smoke.

    I’m sure that no non-smoker can truly understand why smokers smoke, but maybe the smokers themselves do. The most we can do is try our best to stop people from taking their first puff and even if it will be futile, try to discourage existing smokers.

  7. Smoking is a very common bad habit throughout the world. Many people smoke because they are curious and just wanted to try everything new that seems fun to them. Others may be because they are addicted, stressed out, peer pressure or even because they do not see another way out of their problems. I think that the government did try to do their best warning the public about the consequences of smoking, looking at the various campaigns held over the years time and time again.The people who are still smoking
    probably did so because it is their choice and they did not want to stop this bad habit. In these type of cases, there is nothing the government can do because the choice is up to the smoker themselves and the government is in no position to force everybody to stop smoking.

  8. Smoking is bad. However, the addiction from smoking is stronger than the side effects. Hence, people still smoke as many cannot endure the pain of not smoking after days of not smoking. Teenagers who smoke seem to see that smoking is a “cool” thing to do, and when their parents prohibit them from smoking, they often feel the stronger urge to smoke.
    The government in Singapore has done a lot to reduce number of smokers in Singapore, by legalizing many policies that worked against smoking, like prohibiting cigarettes advertisement. However, what needs to be done is the active participation from the public, especially from the smokers, as government can only persuade and not enforce people not to smoke.

  9. I think some singaporeans continue to smoke because they think its cool and they do it to destress or are influenced by their peers. Others may already be addicted to smoking and find it difficult to quit smoking.
    Despite the government’s efforts in warning singaporeans about the negative health effects that smoking causes, it would be very difficult to stop anyone from smoking. No matter how much taxes the government may impose on cigarettes, it may not be effective considering how affluent our society is. Furthermore, warnings on cigarette packs may be ineffective as well because it may only deter potential smokers from trying and not stop the older, habitual smokers. However, we cannot deny that the government is trying very hard to minimise smoking in singapore.

  10. Cigarettes fresh out of the Marlboro factory cost $1-$2 a pack. Marlboro cigarettes in Singapore cost $11-12 a pack. Bans are imposed almost everywhere in this country. Scary advertisements are put in place on cigarette boxes, mass media and the internet. What more can the government do?

    There is so much that the government could do. But they’re solution has to tackle to root of the problem- the addiction. In my opinion, the only way we could ever stop smoking is that Singapore suddenly turns communist and the there’ll be a genocide for all that smoke, or the whole country is hit by a wave of deliverance from this addiction. In other words, it is impossible.

    Singaporeans aren’t dumb. They know the amount of tar and toxins that go into their bodies every puff, they know the deformities they stand a chance to win. However, I believe our society, in particular my generation, is highly face-concious. It doesn’t feel nice if your whole group of friends leave you in the restaurant to pay the bill while they leave because they’re in dire need of a toxins to engulf their lungs. It definitely isn’t nice being called the “holy” or “good” one if you don’t take a puff from their death-stained sticks. This is what you get when the hip is to be bad and the cool is to have cigarette tinted yellow eyes. People do it initially for the thrill, the high feeling on your first stick, the extremely posh look on your second, the ultra classical pose on your third and the addiction on your fourth. l

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