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Despite warnings of disease or death, the Surgeon General estimates that 45.4 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes — about 21.6 percent of the population nationwide.  Thus, People keep smoking. Why?

Nicotine is highly addictive. Often, a person who quits smoking goes through withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include: being irritable, sweating, having headaches, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as feeling restless, tired, or dizzy. Withdrawal is usually the worst on the second day after quitting, and it gradually lessens with time.

 Many people become psychologically tied to smoking. It is part of their daily ritual. It helps them wake up in the morning, comforts them when they are upset, and rewards them for a job well done. Smoking also has pleasurable physical effects. It relaxes people and perks them up.

But what of the lame reasons why people smoke? Let us count the ways.

In “Pulp Fiction” John Travolta woos Uma Thurman with his cigarette rolling skills. Whether for pleasure, tension release or image, the act of smoking goes beyond just lighting up — cigarettes are a lifestyle.  Or they are perceived as a “cool thing” to do.

“I think there’s a certain culture in Hollywood, maybe it’s the culture of the entertainment industry, that there’s value to being edgy,” says Curtis Mekemson, researcher and author of “Hollywood Speaks Out On Tobacco”  “There’s value to being bad. You don’t want to be a goody two shoes in Hollywood.”

The lore of smoking encompasses and encourages  images of 1.  I can be Glamourous, 2. I can be Famous, 3. It makes me look rich and  4. A certain “don’t mess with me” attitude that holds intrigue for young and old alike.

 Here are some other lame reasons that people smoke.

5. It calms your nerves 6. Peer pressure 7. When in Rome, do as the Romans.” 8. If you want to be in with the tough guys you gotta smoke   9. Because of drugs 10. Starting young 11. Fear of weight gain 12. Fear of depression 13. Fear of withdrawal effects 14. An excuse to take a break 15. Stress reliever 16. Its a social thing 17. It’s just a part of me.

The American Lung Association estimates that 4.5 million adolescents in the United States are smokers, and about 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 21. Though the percentage of high school students who smoke has dropped — from 36.4 percent in 1997 to 22 percent in 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control – – it is estimated that about 4,000 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 try their first cigarette each day. At this rate, the CDC estimates that 6.4 million of today’s children will die prematurely of a smoking-related disease.

These factors make it easy to smoke and hard to quit. The pleasures of smoking start within seconds of lighting up; the bad effects can take years to make themselves known. On the other hand, when you try to quit, your first experience is the bad feeling of withdrawal. Only later do you begin to enjoy the benefits of quitting, such as having more energy. So what is your lame reason for not quitting smoking?

If you think you are ready to quit smoking and are tired of making up lame excuses to continue to smoke, check out the Smoke Away web site. Or better yet, need more convincing? Log onto the award winning Smoke Away Support Group. 

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