Dependence Of College Students On Tobacco

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A greater number of cigarette smokers begin smoking during their college years, i. e. before the age of 24. Cigarette smoking is basically seen as a social activity by a majority of people who indulge in this activity. There are many other reasons why youth and tobacco are related or why youth starts smoking cigarette in the first place.

1) Stress and emotion: smoking occurs in stressful situations or when students are under a lot of stress (stress can be of any type, work related, family related, relationship related), and Nicotine present in cigarettes reduces anxiety and stress, relaxes muscles, and improves mood and concentration. 31. 9% of college smokers hold depression responsible for their smoking.

2) Weight loss: Nicotine is also a successful appetite suppressant, it reduces one’s appetite. People, women in particular, who are conscious about their weight may turn to smoking to reduce weight.

3) Social activity: Smoking is considered as a social activity by college students. It has become an easy way to get into groups and make friends, particularly with potential dating or sexual partners. It is also viewed as a break from studies.

Theoretical Background

Psychoanalytic theory

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Psychoanalytic theory was developed by Sigmund Freud also known as the father of psychology. This theory assumes that children’s development goes through a sequence of developmental stage (oral, anal, oedipal, latency and genital) and that frustration or over-gratification leads to fixation at these stages, which affects a person’s behaviour as well as his/her personality. Freudian theorists considered smoking as caused by fixation on the oral stage. Oral stage views mouth as the greatest source of pleasure and thus, fixation on this stage could lead to increased consumption of food, alcohol or drugs.

Behavioural theories

Behaviourism emphasizes that the way people behave is learnt. All human behaviours are learnt behaviours. There are two main schools of thought for behaviourism-:

  • CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: Classical conditioning asserts that people learn to relate two previously unrelated stimuli. They learn to associate one thing with another. (Example: The Pavlov experiment in which the dog related or associated the sound of the bell with food). When talking about smoking, behavioural theorists stated that people tend to learn to associate their feelings or events (feeling stressed with work) with smoking and then when the person is faced with these feelings or events, they automatically crave for a cigarette.
  • OPERANT CONDITIONING: Operant conditioning asserts that the consequence is what shapes a person’s behaviour. If a behaviour is rewarded, it is repeated and if a behaviour is punished it is reduced. In terms of smoking, pleasure is obtained in the form of reward when Nicotine relaxes the body and the mind. This pleasure is what leads to repetition of the smoking behaviour leading to addiction.

Physiological models of addiction

Physiological models try to explain addiction because of brain mechanisms. Nicotine releases dopamine and the person feels pleasure and relaxation. The effects of nicotine are followed by withdrawal symptoms as nicotine is short lasting which creates a sense of irritability and craving in the person. This is what leads to increased and excessive smoking and addiction. Sometimes people pair up smoking with other activities such as alcohol consumption, coffee intake, having a dessert etc. this affects the neurochemical changes in the brain, how parts of brain affect each other gets affected thus creating an association between the two. After that whenever a person indulges in the other unconsciously associated activity, the craving for a cigarette arises. Genetics also play a major role in addiction. Genes affect how addicted a person becomes to nicotine and the chances of relapse.

Social cognitive model

Social cognitive theory asserts that people learn from one other through modelling, instruction or observation. This theory is an expansion of the social learning theory. An important aspect of this theory is that self-efficacy is a basis for any behavioural change. Self-efficacy is a person’s belief or expectation from/on oneself that she/he can successfully complete a task. Various studies have shown a positive relationship between self-efficacy and changes in smoking. Cognitive behaviour therapy got its basis from this social learning theory. CBT is based on the belief that people’s thoughts, emotions and behaviours are interrelated and they interact with each other to maintain behaviours. The aim of CBT for smoking cessation is to eliminate/change the situations or emotions that are connected with smoking. It targets the associations that are pleasurable and the situations that leads to smoking and maintains it. Emotions and thoughts that led to smoking in the first place are also targeted thus cutting short and finally terminating smoking from a person’s life.

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