Smoking... the Way to Friends and Relief?

As early as 1980s, news related to the sale of cigarettes to youths could be found from all over the papers, and on other medias in Singapore as well as the rest of the world.

Legal actions have been taken upon these daring retailers but it seems the seriousness of this problem has yet to be acknowledged by a minority of the licensed tobacco retailers. This is a great cause for concern for the government, which increasingly reveals its intentions towards becoming a smoke-free country.

And recently reported in mainstream papers, according to a study by the Ministry of Health in 2010, the smoking population is at the peak among age 18 to 29, and mostly consist of white and blue-collar people. It is plausible enough to say that the reason one smokes includes the need to socialise or as a means to relieve work stress.

It's a Group think

As a matter of fact, we often see smokers smoking in a group rather than alone.

To this, there could be several reasons such as peer pressure and such socialized smoking would actually indicate fewer attempts to quit smoking – of course, this leads for those who say they are just "social smoking" down the path of addiction.

Stress reliever

Smoking has also been cited as a means for collar workers to relieve their stress in the workplace. Smokers describe the calmness and lack of anxiety as they smoke, temporary relief or not.

However, no researchers has to date been able to conclude that smoking really acts as a ‘pill’ to anxiety or depression, which leaves this excuse that smokers give with a huge question mark.

It is important to understand that the prevalent community, whom are non-smokers, still finds it unacceptable for smokers to light up in public places in view of health implications brought about by second-hand smoke. As such, Singapore has, in accordance to these citizens' wishes, imposed a blanket smoking ban on several public places including coffee shops, bus stops and pubs.

On top of this, unsightly and even gruesome pictures of the consequences of smoking are slapped for good on the packing of cigarette boxes, and a costly payable tax grips the peddlers of the vice here.

Education, it seems, has not been considered a lost cause. Campaigns to encourage more quitters in smoking continues to haunt us at bus stops and places we seek relief other than from stress.

There are other interesting – though sometimes ironic – alternative attempts at encouraging smokers to quit. One good example would be last year’s Johnson & Johnson efforts to encourage smokers to challenge themselves in a run, which is said to require mental and physical determination to quit smoking, as well as the support of the smoker’s close family members and friends to encourage him/her in the run – likened to the difficult path to quit smoking.

That said, in my opinion, smoking may be born at the workplace out of the need to feel included, but it is not a necessity to socialise and create good working relationships with our peers or to clinch deals with clients who are smoking. There are ample other ways to achieve those ends such as finding common interests like running as Johnson & Johnson has rightfully pointed out would help encourage the demise of the vice.

But alas, if smoking is ever a compulsory factor in a workplace, I would say that the society is going in the opposite direction, in terms of achieving that much raved about mythical longevity.

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