The question ‘Why do people smoke?’ has been asked for many years. An obvious simple answer would be that people smoke for nicotine. But for many, the situation seems more complex.
It is very well known that smoking is an important cause of many diseases and the purchase price of cigarettes can be very high, so it is reasonable to ask why so many people smoke.
Many in the public health community suggest that people only smoke because they are ‘addicted’ to nicotine. Many smokers can find it hard to quit.
The pharmacological effect of nicotine - a mild stimulant effect not unlike that of caffeine, and a mild relaxing effect - is an important part of the smoking experience, and it is unlikely that cigarettes without nicotine would be acceptable to smokers.
However, there seems to be more to smoking than just nicotine. Smoking embodies a considerable amount of ritual involving many of the senses. A smoker will often describe pleasure from the feel of a cigarette in the hand, and from the taste, sight and smell of the smoke. Also, especially in social settings, smoking involves a ‘sharing’ experience with other smokers.