Social IssuesYouth

A cigarette is a pipe with a fire at one end and a fool at the other.

If I were to name the most sinister substance of abuse that affects not only person who is addicted to it, but also the community as a whole, then, my answer would be cigarette. Cigarette is one of the commonest abusable substance and the addiction to this is spreading like a virus in the world, especially amongst the youth. One reason for this is, its easy availability almost everywhere in the world that too at meagre prices.

Now, the million dollar question is, despite of all the scary statutory warnings on the packs and great harms, why smoke and put your life in danger at all? Two-thirds of smokers start before age 18. In 2011 it was estimated that more than 200,000 children aged 11- 15 started smoking. It is illegal to sell cigarettes to any person under the age of 18. Then how do they start to smoke so early? Where do they get access to it? Psychological studies of the many youths who smoked suggested that most of them started smoking because of some family stress or family influence, and a member would smoke in family too. That nearly explains where they get the ‘death stick’ from.

But what about the want? Why do the need to smoke anyways? People say that its not the smokey taste of cigarette that is addiction, but the sense of satisfaction they get after smoking. Ciggie-lovers describe it as the ‘nic-kick’, as in kick of nicotine. For some people its just fun and a way out of stress, they believe that smoking after a days long work can result in pleasure and better output of their work. There maybe many reasons that may drag a teenager most probably into the habit of smoking but the biggest of all is, peer pressures. The one they rely on to portray an image of a cool dude. The time span between their dependency on parents and the independent adulthood, any person is most likely to spend his time with social groups or friends as we say. That’s when a person enters in the phase of physical and emotional change and the heavy influence of peers and hormone-addled flood, may provide ‘excuse’ to a person to starting smoking.

We are all young and we crave for rewards, since childhood we expect that the teacher would pat our back or give us a candy for doing good work, similarly, cigarette is a type of reward one can give to himself/herself anytime and as often as they wish. for some, the most important is, the first and the last smoke of the day, they start a day with the cigarette because it is “refreshing” and end the day with it because its like a well-deserved full stop to their routines.

The risk-taking behavior among the youth is greatest reason why they may smoke. Adults in countries which excessively propagate signs of no-smoking, or where the elders take it as a sin to smoke, there is much more chances for them to start smoking earlier than normal. There is an buzz that comes with breaking the rules, and many find themselves pushed by rules imposed by school and parents. Some people consider smoking as an hourglass; a person may burn a cigarette while waiting for a the train at subway or a person may ignite one while waiting for the ordered meal. Children of active smokers are more likely to start smoking earlier than the children of nonsmokers. Even the parents who don’t smoke may indirectly push their child into smoking habit. For example, the parents who allow the child to watch movies that show heavy smoking scenes by lead characters or those parents who think that smoking is an acceptable behavior. Studies have suggested that when young viewers see a main character smoking, they do get influenced into early smoking habit. They’re more likely to see smoking as something socially acceptable and trendy. For some, smoking is just a self-medication, from an illness that causes grief and sorrow. Patients suffering from illness like depression or tension may start smoking, because it eliminates many symptoms of the disease. For some, smoking is for creating memories, grouped up with friends and a packet of cigarette may cause much happiness and then cherishing such times later.

Unfortunately, these people may find that they can’t easily give up tobacco once the stress passes. The tobacco becomes a psychological as well as chemical crutch, as any potentially stressful situation sends them instinctively reaching for a cigarette. They latch onto it like a master key fits in any lock. The tool they had used to alleviate stress suddenly becomes a stressor in itself, as they shift from fighting through a difficult situation with the help of nicotine to fighting the nicotine itself. Not all people fight back though. But those who do, the fight is magnanimous. The more they try to wean away, tge more that urge keeps creeping under their skins, until it consumes them both mentally and physically. There are a number of NGOs and hospitals and even rehab centers set up across the globe to try and help all those who want to win this fight. This war, however, invincible, will need to be curbed soon. Otherwise, the day where the doom of our future generations is inevitable

 
Wajeeha Naeem
The City School
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