There are many different reasons why people choose to smoke cigarettes. Many people start smoking when they are teenagers because they think it will make them appear cool and allow them acceptance into a certain group. Some people start to smoke because they have a lot of stress in their life and they believe smoking will make them more relaxed. Others smoke because they think everyone else is doing it and do not want to be different. Some people are influenced when they see advertising or images in magazines and on billboards. Many young people smoke simply because their parents smoke, it may be easier to justify the habit if a role model or someone in authority such as their parents, are smokers.
It is important to understand why young people, in particular, take up smoking. For some, it has an element of rebellion and taboo. Throughout The Hittman Chronicle (1999), Dave Hitt, a journalist for the ‘Smoking is Cool’ website, claims that for children and teenagers, cool things have three characteristics: They are dangerous, they annoy parents and figures of authority, and they are done, used and worn by cool people.Hitt states, “Smoking shares every one of these traits and will remain cool until each factor is eliminated.” Hitt, D. (1999).
For impressionable teens, it is not unreasonable to presume that smoking encompasses the very essence of ‘cool’. If this is the case, then Hitt claims that Government action such as condemning smoking, raising taxes and enforcing age limits, surely makes smoking more cool, not less. Hitt, D. (1999).
Taking up smoking by young people can be due to an immense amount of peer pressure from school friends. The teenage years can be difficult for some and bullying and a constant pressure to fit in with others can often influence school children into trying smoking. Other factors can range from boredom and the desire to rebel, to depression. Cigarettes are widely known as an appetite suppressant and many young people with the longing to be slim, take up cigarettes as a solution. Glamorous celebrities are admired for their beauty and slim figures, two characteristics that young women in our society desperately want to possess.Writer of A Closer Look at the Media’s Influence on Tobacco Use on College Campuses, Erin Abraham, states, “Not only will smoking make you feel glamorous, independent, and sexy, but it will also help you to be thin and beautiful. These positive images associated with smoking are present in the media every day, and they continue to blind our youth with ideas that smoking is a normal, acceptable, and harmless activity.” Whether the ingredients of cigarettes suppress appetites or not, they are hugely addictive and do not promote good health in any way.
Abraham, E. (1999).Some people start smoking when they move to higher education, states Erin Abraham, in her study. Smoking is a very social activity and can be adopted by students who are trying to fit in with peers and make friends. As well as drinking, smoking is a typically popular activity with students and according to Abraham, “doing what everyone else is doing,” can make it easier to feel part of a group. Smoking can be a common ground for young people, an ‘ice-breaker’ and a way to connect with others.
Abraham, E. (1999).It is a very plausible possibility that the media plays a major role in influencing young people to smoke.
Through the years, media has used film, television and magazines to create positive and attractive images about smoking. These images are present in the media every day and greatly influence society’s attitudes and perceptions about smoking. Abraham states that the media manufactures a more common and socially acceptable image of smoking. In television, magazines and films, celebrities are continuously portrayed smoking cigarettes. In Abraham’s opinion,”these actors and actresses represent the tobacco industry’s age-old message that smoking is associated with social success, sexual attractiveness and independence.
” Abraham, E. (1999). Young adults are being bombarded by media images that present tobacco use as a common and glamorous activity. Abraham claims that, “the entertainment industry uses feature films, television, and magazines to create a perfect world, a world that represents how real life should be. In this world, cigarettes are not looked upon as harmful and dangerous substances, but rather they evoke certain images of success, attractiveness, health, energy, and independence.” Abraham, E.
(1999).The book ‘Ill Effects’, edited by Martin Baker and Julian Petley, (published by Routledge, 1997), features studies on the extent of the effect the media has on young people. In the chapter, written by David Buckingham he describes the way a child is viewed by society: “Since ancient times, the idea of childhood has been invested with far-reaching hopes and anxieties about the future.” Buckingham, D.
(1997, 32). With regard to the media, Buckingham explains: “The combination of the two is therefore bound to invoke profound concerns about the continuity of the social order and of fundamental human values.”Although the chapter is concerning the effect of violence in the media on children, this theory still supports the notion that media can and does have negative effects on its recipients, especially children and young people. In the eighth chapter of ‘Ill Effects’, Ian Vine (1997) writes: “The whole point of communicating is to influence one another by conveying information, whether transmission is reciprocal or un-directional.”