Cigarettes are fucking bad for you. Especially the ones we smoke today.
The only way a person wouldn’t know that at this point would be if they managed to avoid attending public or private school for the entirety of their adolescence; tobacco education is as ingrained in our children’s curriculum as the very history of the United States… Or math.
Which makes sense; once the harms of tobacco smoking became apparent, use-prevention seemed as easy as simply making everyone aware of them.
Yet, here we are; it’s 2011 and the tobacco industry continues to turn massive profits. How can that be so unless those who are well aware of its harmful effects are making the conscious decision to start using them? And if that’s the case, which it is, why?
It’s quite simple, really. It has everything to do with culture and a little to do with addiction.
Addiction is easy to assume as the culprit given everything we know about how it works. However, cocaine and meth are immeasurably more addicting; and despite their illegality, they’re not all that hard to get your hands on.
So if addiction were indeed the only culprit, the U.S. would have a much bigger cocaine and meth problem than we do now.
Besides, addiction clearly couldn’t solely contribute to the global usage of a substance known to be harmful. When that is the case, the substance’s usage would begin to die out with the deaths of those alive prior to the discovery of the substance’s harmful effects, as the younger generations would have no desire to do harm to themselves; pretty much standard human logic.
That’s where culture comes in and totally butt-fucks the shit out of that rational logic; culture basically makes rational logic about as un-cool as not smoking.
To clarify that statement requires me to ask a question: Why do you think more citizens don’t do cocaine and meth?
Because cocaine and meth have never had a place in American culture outside of various extreme counter-cultures. Counter-cultures which were/are looked down upon by those in the dominant national-culture.
On the other hand, tobacco has always had a place in every era of our nation’s history and within every dominant cultural movement that has existed throughout it. In fact, the territory that currently comprises the United States would likely be the property of the United Kingdom, and probably France and Spain, today had it not been for tobacco; Jamestown was a desolate place before John Rolfe brought tobacco there, after which the economy of all the colonies began to boom, as prior to that point Spain was the world’s sole exporter of tobacco and the geography of the colonies allowed for a higher quality plant to be produced than what Spain offered.
So we smoked. And smoked… And smoked, and smoked, and smoked. And we changed the world. And we smoked some more. And we saved the world, got half way through the next cig, and then saved the world again. And we smoked some more. And then we made awesome movies in which only the coolest characters smoke. Smoked some more. Laid the beatdown on Russia. Smoked some more. And then all of a sudden we find out smoking kills the shit out of people.
…And then we smoked some more. We smoked our way to global cultural domination, and now the dominant culture of every country throughout the world has America’s cultural smoking habits as a component.
Because smoking is an aspect of America’s standard national culture, and always has been, why wouldn’t it rub off on the rest of the world’s cultures along with our cinema and other features of our culture?
It did, and we made a lot of money as a result.
So when it comes down to it, people in this country continue to make the decision to smoke simply because smoking is as uniquely American as consumerism.
And we all know that Americans love to act American.