Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Reasons People Start Smoking


5
Genetic Predisposition
Some may have a genetic predisposition toward addiction, making it harder to resist the habit.
Some may have a genetic predisposition toward addiction, making it harder to resist the habit.
Comstock/Getty Images

A large section of the field of modern medical research focuses on genetics, and for good reason: From allergies to blood disorders and certain types of cancer, subtle mutations in a person's genes can mean the difference between sickness and health. Medical genetic research is beginning to suggest, too, that addictions -- including addiction to nicotine, the effective ingredient in tobacco products -- may have a genetic component [source: Benowitz].

Studies of addiction genetics don't necessarily seek a "smoking gun" gene that controls addictions; rather, the research explores how a combination of a genetic susceptibility, societal factors and other health factors, such as alcohol use, can make one person more likely to take up smoking than another. If a tendency toward addiction is seen along family lines or within certain ethnic groups, public health officials can use that information to target their efforts toward populations that have the highest risk for tobacco addiction [sources: Raffin, The Partnership at Drugfree.org].


More to Explore