10 Reasons People Start Smoking


Stress Relief

For many, smoking is a way to relieve the stress and tension that come with a high-pressure job.
For many, smoking is a way to relieve the stress and tension that come with a high-pressure job.
Britt Erlanson/The Image Bank/Getty Images

For people not suffering from severe mental illness, cigarettes may still become a form of self-medication. For decades, soldiers have taken up smoking on the battlefield to deal with wartime stress, for example. Many people experiencing much lower levels of stress -- in a high-pressure job, for example -- may start to smoke as a way to manage the tension and nerves associated with the situation.

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. 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 [source: Cleveland Clinic].

To read more articles about smoking, check out the links below.

Related Articles


  • American Heart Association. "Cigarette Smoking Statistics." 2008. National Center for Health Statistics. (May 2, 2011)http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4559
  • Benowitz, Neal. "The Genetics of Drug Dependence: Tobacco Addiction." The New England Journal of Medicine. Sept. 17, 1992. (April 22, 2011)http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199209173271210
  • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Facts & Issues." 2011. (May 2, 2011)http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/
  • Cleveland Clinic. "Stress, Stress Management, and Smoking." 2009. (May 2, 2011)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/stress_management/hic_stress_stress_management_and_smoking.aspx
  • Faucher, Mary Ann. "Factors that influence smoking in adolescent girls: review of the literature." Medscape.com. 2003. (May 2, 2011)http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/456476_2
  • Hood Center for Children and Families. "Smoking: Parent and Family Influences." (April 2, 2011)http://hoodcenter.dartmouth.edu/research-programs/smoking/parent-family_influences.html
  • Kanamori, Yuko and R. Malone. "Conveying misinformation: Top-ranked Japanese books on tobacco." Tobacco Induced Diseases. 2011.
  • Kolzowski, L.T. et al. "Smokers' misperceptions of light and ultra-light cigarettes may keep them smoking." American Journal of Preventive Medicine. July 15, 1998.
  • Lillard, Dean. "Smoking as Self-Medication." 3rd Biennial Conference of the American Society of Health Economists. 2010. (April 22, 2011)http://ashecon2010.abstractbook.org/presentations/131/
  • The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "One-Fifth of Smokers Think Some Cigarette Brands Less Harmful Than Others." April 14, 2011 (April 22, 2011)http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/tobacco/one-fifth-of-smokers-think-some-cigarette-brands-less-harmful-than-others
  • The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Tobacco Use High Among American Indian and Alaskan Native Youth." April 13, 2011. (April 22, 2011)http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/addiction/tobacco-use-high-among-american-indian-and-alaskan-native-youth
  • Raffin, Thomas. "Genetic links to nicotine addiction: ethics of testing teens." 1999. (May 2, 2011)http://www.trdrp.org/fundedresearch/Views/Grant_Page.asp?grant_id=1605
  • Teen Drug Abuse. "Teens and Smoking Tobacco." (April 23, 2011)http://www.teendrugabuse.us/teensmoking.html
  • Texas Department of State Health Services. "Tobacco Settlement Information." March 8, 2011. (May 2, 2011)http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/tobacco/settlement.shtm
  • Watson, N.A. et al. "Filthy or fashionable? Young people's perceptions of smoking in the media." Health Education Research. July 23, 2002. (May 2, 2011)http://her.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/5/554.abstract
  • Willemsen, Marc C. and Boudewijn de Blij. "Tobacco advertising." Union for International Cancer Control. Sept. 5, 2011. (April 26, 2011)http://www.globalink.org/en/advertising.shtml
  • World Health Organization. "Why tobacco is a public health priority." Tobacco Free Initiative. (May 1, 2011)http://www.who.int/tobacco/health_priority/en/index.html


FDA Takes Step Toward Non-addictive Cigarettes

FDA Takes Step Toward Non-addictive Cigarettes

The FDA recently announced plans to explore nicotine reduction in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. HowStuffWorks takes a look at the possibility.