Tobacco: Is it just an addiction?

Written by on November 13, 2017

Tobacco: An addiction or part of a larger health issue?

The Great American Smokeout started over 46 years ago in Massachusetts when a neighbor encouraged his neighbors to quit smoking for the day.  However, tobacco has a long-standing history with America.  It started here with the Native Americans and was brought to Europe in 1528… over 489 years ago!  This battle has been a long time coming, and I strongly support the American Cancer Society as they try and help people quit smoking and make healthier decisions.

As I watch the video (see below) and think about the history of tobacco, I can’t help but think this health issue is deeper than just addiction.  It seems to me that tobacco, alcohol, and other substances have been used as a coping mechanism for hundreds of years.  The ability to make money is not a new stress, and you can see how it affects hundreds of thousands of people.  What it is fascinating to me is that on average a smoker will spend $2000 a month on cigarettes yet will continue to stress about paying bills and having money for a rainy day.

If you look at research surveys asking for the reasons people smoke, a lot of the times their reasons are peer pressure, self-medicating (coping skill), boredom and stress.  It’s interesting how stress has its own category but if you look closely at the reasons why they are stressed, the underlying tone links it straight back to mental health.  Smoking and drinking can be addicting but a lot of times it’s not an addiction issue.  I personally feel that it is a coping skill that people have adopted and don’t know how to do without.

We live in a volatile world and as humans, find whatever way we can to get by and make it through to the next day.  If America focused more on mental health and took a stronger stance, we could truly make America great again.

The Great American Smokeout takes place on Thursday, November 16th.  To learn about the available tools to increase your chances of quitting, call the American Cancer Hotline at 1-800-227-2345, or visit their website at


Michelle is a Health Educator. She enjoys working with the youth to help them learn life long skills that can help them achieve their life goals.

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