Peyton - have you never smoked? It is heavily heavily addictive chemically - very difficult to stop once your brain gets used to receiving regular nicotine. Also psychologically addictive, but this is easy to break.
I agree that we used to think it looked cool, in classic movies etc., and maybe in an old movie it still does look cool. But nowadays I don't think we view it as cool: most people just think it's a filthy habit and an embarassing sign of weakness. We look at those poor addicts who have to stand outside in the cold every 30 minutes, and think "you mug", and they look back at us wretchedly helpless. Give up! Oh God! Please! Stop shredding your lungs! Think of your kids!
Yes Simon, I smoked for 2 years and then stopped because I didn't like the way it made me feel. I'll be the first one to agree that there is almost no reason to think that smoking is cool, outside of certain contexts. You're correct, the evidence supporting the addictive nature of smoking is staggering, as I said in my post, chemical dependencies MUST be considered to understand the issue properly. However, one can't ignore the psychological implications of all behaviours - especially bad habits. And to say that psychological addiction is generally easy to break contradicts what we know about human psychology.
You know, this has turned out exactly like every other discussion I've seen on this topic. A non-smoker starts out asking, "Why do people smoke?" Then a number of smokers reply with their answers, which are all ignored, and the non-smokers continue to dig for the 'real answer' and go on preaching to each other about how awful smoking is and how weak smokers are and how it just doesn't make sense. In the end, no one addresses their own consumption of deep fried foods, alcohol abuse, or coffee habits and focus instead, like a theist, on how their particular choice to abstain from the sin of smoking has assured them a place in healthy living heaven, regardless of any other vices they may have. Pat yourselves on the back, non-smokers, and pat each other on the backs as well - you are truly saved.
You hit it right on, it's easy for people to emasculate other's experience based on their lack of experience. This is not an issue that can be resolved easily. There are deep social, personal, and biological implications to consider. It's an interesting phenomena and it's been given much attention in many areas of study.
I see it all the time - especially with the homeless. I used to think that homeless people were just 'weak', 'lazy', and/or 'addicts' of some sort. When I started doing a lot of volunteer work and found the truth behind a lot of people's stories, it was really hard to accept that in many cases that I was just one catastrophic event away from living their life. I've experimented with various drugs and not become addicted - but then I just didn't have the circumstances in my life that are usually the precursors to becoming addicted to those particular drugs. I did become a nicotine addict, but the physical addiction has very little to do with why I continue although non-smokers will never understand that I just plain enjoy smoking and love the ritual.
The ritual surrounding it was always enjoyable. After a meal, with a pint. Certain things kind of "felt" better with a ciggy. At least you admit you are addicted though, I know some who will say they smoke only because they enjoy it and they are not in anyway addicted. As they light up their 20th of the day.
I guess it depends on your definition of addiction. I smoke only because I enjoy it. Sometimes I feel like smoking every day for a while. Other times I go weeks, months, or even years without smoking because I just don't feel like it. I do the same thing with ice cream, coffee, alcohol, and other indulgences.
I thought I sensed a familiar pattern.
Yes. This! The worst is the evangelical ex-smoker though. I'm an ex smoker, but I hope I'm not evangelical about it- would be tad hypocritical considering my alcohol intake!
Stress relief... but it's only temporary stress relief, however, once you're hooked, you're hooked. I know for a fact I don't smoke to be cool, because if I was seen as cool, I sure wouldn't smoke. People look at me strangely..and my friends think it's disgusting... so... I only do it for stress.
It has been said of smoking (and there's an analogy to the other substance addictions) that "At first you do it to feel good. Before long you're doing it not to feel bad."