As our group continued to “QUEEC” Chicagoans’ smoking habits, we soon realized that what we were doing was not easy. It was hard to find smokers, especially teen smokers, that wanted to talk about their addiction. At times, when I asked if I could interview my peers, they were hesitant. They instantly turned to believing we were going to show them in a bad light and slap their hands for smoking. I did not know exactly how to deal with this at first. I knew I did not have a problem with smokers, but they didn’t. How could I show my curiosity without scaring potential interviewees off?
I immediately thought of the truth® organization. I’m sure most teens have seen a truth® commercial on MTV at one time or another. They are powerful, but most of all, completely truthful. I turned to their website out of curiosity to learn more. At the top of their “About Us” page is a section titled “We ♥ Smokers”. The organization makes it clear that they do not have anything against smokers or non-smokers, they are neutral. It is the Big Tobacco companies that they have a problem with. The misleading ads and secrets behind all of the money they are reeling in from smokers, particularly teens. Another philosophy they have when dealing with the issue is “Don’t Say Don’t”. In other words, they know that if they tell people not to smoke, they won’t quit, and most of the time teens will continue to smoke in order to rebel. Well, truth® recognizes their need for rebellion and sees it as following the tobacco industry’s orders instead.
Within the first four years the truth® campaigns have prevented 450,000 teens from becoming loyal customers to “Big Tobacco” and have saved $5.4 billion in health care costs. With 1/3 of youth smokers eventually dying from tobacco-related diseases, truth® calculated the amount of lives they have already saved…150,000. That is huge progress that cannot be overlooked. I am an avid believer in truth®. They can’t please everyone, and they don’t want to. They know the campaigns present controversial issues, but they also know that everything they are saying is 100% truthful. With truth® on the job, the tobacco industry will not be able to manipulate their products, research, and ads. Instead, teen smokers and non-smokers will become informed smokers and non-smokers, and truth® will continue to produce raw, unfiltered facts about tobacco.
In this piece,Ernest Dichter focuses on the psychological effects of smoking. Often times people ignore the psychological satisfaction cigarettes provide for smokers. The topics he touches on are: “Smoking is Fun”, “Smoking is a Reward”, “Smoking is Oral Pleasure”, “The Modern Hourglass”, “With a Cigarette I am not Alone”, “I like to Watch the Smoke”, “Got a Match?”, “Smoking Memories”, “Smoking Helps Me Think”, “Cigarettes Help Us Relax”, “Smoking Mannerisms”, “I Blow My Troubles Away”, “Cigarette Taste Has To Be Acquired”, “How Many a Day?”, “The First Cigarette”, “No Thanks, I’ll Smoke My Own”, and “A Package of Pleasure”. I have never gotten more out of an article relating to the psychology to smoking than this one. After reading the article, I showed it to my friend who smokes. She was also in shock on how accurate the article was and how much she related to it as a smoker.
Cigarette smokers do not necessarily smoke just because they think they look cool or because the nicotine has them hooked, there are many other factors that go into the habit of smoking. Some people do it because it is fun, or it helps them relax. Others smoke because it helps them calculate time, as one smoker stated, “It is much easier to watch a cigarette get smaller and smaller than to keep watching a clock and look at the hands dragging along.” For some people, smoking is a way to make friends. If you are standing outside by yourself with a cigarette, you do not feel alone. “When I lean back and light my cigarette and see the glow in the dark, I am not alone any more….” Dichter relates a cigarette to something being alive; when you light it, it is “awakened”. Smoking is also said to help you relax and think. Some of these moments are imprinted in a smoker’s mind forever, when they smoke cigarettes there are certain memories that are linked to the process.
Dichter also touches on the mindset of smokers and their addiction. He concludes that smokers are confused. The majority of his respondents were not concerned about the harmful effects of various brands of cigarettes, but all of them, even the ones who did not smoke excessively, felt guilty about the amount of cigarettes they smoke. Dichter explains that some smokers feel like smoking constantly is immoral, and most smokers try to quit or cut down on their consumption of cigarettes. One smoker said that he gives up smoking for one month every year to prove to himself that he can still live without them. Dichter sees these efforts as ways to reduce guilt by showing a “willingness to sacrifice pleasure”.
After reading Dichter’s article and his respondents’ views on the topics, I looked at smoking cigarettes as far more than what people usually deem as a nasty addiction. There are so many psychological links shared between a smoker and his/her cigarette. The information provided in the article was used to frame the interviews our group conducted and gave us a better understanding on why smokers really smoke, and not just what we already assume.
This article discusses statistics of smokers involving education, socio-economics, geography, ethnicity/race, gender, and age. The highest smoking rates were among adults with 9-11 years of education, adults living below the poverty level, the states of Nevada, Kentucky, and Ohio, and those of the American Indian ethnicity/Alaska Natives. Smoking is also highest among women ages 18 and older and young adults or adults ages 25-44. Some of the statistics that I found most shocking were, “Each day, approximately 6,000 young persons try their first cigarette and approximately 3,000 become daily smokers” and “About half of all nicotine users start by age 13…nicotine is a pediatric disease”. This is important, especially, to include in our documentary because our inspiration for discovering this topic was the prevalence of our peers smoking outside of dorms and school buildings. Another interesting quote from the article was “Tobacco kills more than half a million women per year worldwide. This number is expected to double by 2020. Internationally, women are increasingly targeted by tobacco marketing.”
Overall, this article was a great source of information. I would like to know more specifics in some instances, for example, when they refer to “young persons” I would like to know the actual ages. This is a trusting source derived from the oral cancer foundation website, which provides various types of information regarding cigarette smoking and cancer.
If you ever wonder why you see fellow students ducked into doorways and sitting on the sides flower beds away from the doors of the dorms at Columbia College, check out the Chicago Clean Air Ordinance. If you don’t want to read all of that, here is the gist of it. Passed in January of 2008, the Clean Air Ordinance prohibits smoking within all campus facilities and within 15 feet of any building entrance. This law was passed in order to protect students, patrons, and workers from the harmful effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke. Security officers are told to inform the college of violations with the policy, and if students and staff do not comply, college disciplinary action will be taken. This is why “No Smoking” signs can be seen posted on the front of all campus buildings and dorms.
When I first arrived at Columbia College our dormitory floor (Dwight) had a meeting on the first night. One of the things I was told by my RA was that if we were smokers, we have to be at least 15 feet away from the dorm entrance. Since he knew that we would not be measuring our steps on our way out to smoke a cigarette, he added that the appropriate locations are by Subway or by the creepy vacant building. While I see most students comply, I have also seen my fair amount of smokers stand just outside of the dorms. This leads me to questioning why we can’t walk 15 feet away and also why the security officers rarely ever tell students to move.
On January 12, 2012 the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees passed a policy that enforces 100% tobacco-free campuses. The prohibition of tobacco use that went into affect in March of 2012 impacted 120,000 students and 5,800 faculty and staff, plus visitors and will apply to the seven colleges in Chicago, seven satellite locations, and the district office. These colleges include Harold Washington College, Harry S Truman College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Richard J. Daley College, and Wilbur Wright College. The goal of this policy is to reduce tobacco use, especially among college students who typically have a higher usage rate than adults, and to also eliminate secondhand smoke. Resources are provided at the colleges’ Wellness Centers that will assist smokers in quitting and also reduce the amount of new smokers in the area. The City Colleges of Chicago District-wide Student Government Association voted unanimously to pass the tobacco-free campus policy. Olurotimi Akindele, president of the Harold Washington College Student Government Association, commented that the policy helps to create a more comfortable environment for non-smokers as well as helps smokers through the various support services on the campus. He also notes that he is happy to see the board support the students not only academically, but also in other aspects of their lives.
Seeing as the group’s topic is centered around the reason why so many people in Chicago smoke, this study is extremely useful and insightful information of six diverse Chicago communities and their smoking habits. The Survey Design Committee (SDC) that performed the research (using the Sinai Health System’s Improving Community Health Survey) interviewed adult smokers and gathered demographic information in Norwood Park, Humboldt Park, West Town, South Lawndale, North Lawndale, and Roseland.
As for the highs and lows of cigarette smoking, the committee concluded that men, residents in poorer households and households without telephones (excluding cell phones), and residents with less education were most likely to smoke. As for the communities, North Lawndale (the poorest of the 6 community areas) had the highest smoker prevalence at 39% while Norwood (the wealthiest of the 6) had the lowest prevalence at 18%. Although I would like to believe that this information is surprising, I was not shocked. It seems that every article or study I have read has concluded similarly. It is usually the poorest areas that have the highest smoking rates, but why?
Smoking is expensive, especially in Chicago. Depending on the brand choice, one pack of cigarettes costs around $12-let me calculate that as a college student…that could buy a couple of meals at Subway! So why is smoking so prevalent in areas experiencing poverty? Addiction is a common point. The committee estimated an average of at what age their interviewees began to smoke and concluded that the majority smoked their first cigarette from age 15-17. If they have been smoking for a long time, they could feel it is impossible to quit. Another question is whether or not stress has anything to do with it. Smoking is a form of relaxation for some people, so although they are burning away their money, the trade-off could be a few minutes of stress-free time. People in poor areas, therefore, could use a cigarette as an escape route from stressful situations.These are just my assumptions, however, and they are not supported or talked about within the study.
While smoking prevalence in Chicago seems radical in the eyes of myself and my group members, it is not as bad as what it used to be. Before conducting research on the health costs of smoking, 42% of adults in the US smoked. Once reliable data was collected in the mid 1960’s, the smoking rates declined to 22-25%. Despite the known health problems and costs associated with smoking, about 45.8 million US adults continue to smoke.