Before we begin, I’d like to clear the air and address an important point in this post: this is in no way shape or form designed to convince anyone at all to stop smoking. These are literally thoughts I’ve just had about smoking, specifically cigarette smokers.
A lot of times, people want to quit smoking but don’t quit for any reason from “I can stop whenever I want” to “I’ve tried before, but it just wasn’t working for me”. While these may be valid reasons and each has their own motivation, I think it’s linked to something deeper than. I think there just isn’t enough fear of smoking hazards.
I’m sure we’ve all seen 1 or 2 “Truth” campaign commercials outlining some statistic of smoke related deaths, some gross fact about the contents of cigarettes that’s intended to make people want to think twice about smoking. While that’s fine and dandy, and probably even works on some people, most just see it, go “hmm, gross” then go about their business. Why?
“X amount of people die every year due to smoking“.
“Well, I’m still alive.”
“X, Y, and Z are terrible chemicals found in cigarettes linked to diseases A, B, and C.”
“Ehh, that’s gross and all, but I haven’t been affected by any of that.”
“But you COULD BE!”
“‘Could?’ Eh, I’ll take my chances.”
And these conversations could go on and on, probably ending with some form of “I’m not worried” or “that hasn’t happened to me”.
This, I believe, is one of the fundamental problems with trying to convince people to quit; no immediate repercussions.
Well all know about positive reinforcement, and negative reinforcement. Do something good, get rewarded. Do something bad, get punished. A pretty simple idea that pretty much drives the human race. There are psychological studies in which this conditioning has been used to train dogs, children, and other various animals. This works so well, because the repercussions are immediate. Child is bad? They get a beating. Dog is bad? He gets hit on the nose. That’s how we make connections to bad decisions; the immediate actions that follow. With smoking, you don’t feel these seconds, minutes, and days being stripped from your life. You cough a little more, your cardio health takes a hit, but all in all you’re fine. This is why I believe the amount of smokers is so high. They don’t immediately get deathly sick. There is no immediate burst of pain from smoking. Just small inconveniences.
If lives were immediately lost, I believe the number of smokers throughout the world would significantly decrease. But even that is circumstantial.
Now, let me preface the COMPLETELY HYPOTHETICAL and in NO WAY RECOMMENDED situation I am about to present; I know multiple smokers, from family to friends, and I would NEVER wish harm on any of them. Got it? Good.
Even if someone were to take it upon themselves to try to provide this immediate negative repercussion, through some kind of chemical agent slipped into cigarettes via mass production from the source, lives would be loss, and there’d just be a lawsuit against the company of those cigarette makers, and charges brought up against the one responsible. That wouldn’t be seen as effects of cigarettes, that would be seen as a “bad batch”. “An isolated incident.” Not the corporations fault, not the smokers fault. I can’t think of a single way to convince the majority of smokers to quit. Can you?
Once again, this is in no way an attempt to convince others to quit smoking, and I do not want, nor endorse, any mass harm against smokers or cigarette corporations.