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Smoking is a practice where an individual inhales and exhales fumes from a substance contents of which are expected to have a particular effect on the smoker. Across the world two substances that are mostly smoked are marijuana (Cannabis sativa) and tobacco with the latter being more popular and widely accepted than the former.  Tobacco is thought to have been growing on earth for over 8000 years. The Mayans of Central America, who are said to be its earliest users, used it because of its mild sedation effect. On the other hand, marijuana, which can be traced to China as the first country to use it, also had medicinal use of  treating malaria, rheumatism, gout, and absent-mindedness. Smoking remains the most common and widely practiced method of consuming tobacco and marijuana. However, tobacco remains the most popularly smoked substance. This essay explicates the causes and effects of smoking.

Various factors can cause smoking. The main factor is addiction. In spite of their known effects, smoking of tobacco and marijuana remains widespread because of people’s addiction. Golden, Peterson, and Dingwell point out that these drugs contain a substance called nicotine which is highly addictive (64). After usage of tobacco and marijuana for a while, the body and mind becomes dependent on nicotine thereby forcing the user to smoke these drugs to quench the intense internal thirst.

The causes of smoking among teenagers are more complex. There is a problem of transition from childhood to adulthood, which piles pressure on teenagers to start doing things they see the elderly are doing. These things include smoking. Secondly, some teenagers start smoking because of the need to fit in their social cliques which are very important for them. Inclusion and participation in such groups gives teenagers a badge of honor which they want to achieve whatever the conditions and consequences of joining these groups are. Those who have low self-esteem may also find themselves resorting to smoking as a way of asserting themselves (Golden, Peterson and Dingwell, 86).

The other cause of smoking is stress. In the fast-paced world that we live in, not many people can handle the pressure. Therefore, smoking is used as a stress suppressant or reliever. This is mostly associated with those who work in highly stressful sectors or positions. Other social problems like strains and fall-outs in relationships or families are said to contribute to smoking as a way of easing stress.

The environment and nature of some jobs compel those involved to start smoking. Entertainment joints, night clubs, and casinos are environments, which excuse smoking. Jobs like those of commercial sex workers, strippers, bouncers, and disk jockeys engage in smoking as an emblem of ‘coolness’.

Smoking has the whole array of social and economic outcomes. The effects manifest both on the individual and society. On the individual level, the most widespread effect is physiological, whereby the smoker contracts various sicknesses, most of which may cause death. These include emphysema (breakdown of lung tissue), stroke, heart disease, and various types of cancer including throat, lung, stomach, and bladder cancer. In addition, there is an increased risk of bronchitis and pneumonia for people who smoke.

Smoking is also known to cause fertility problems for both men and women. It is said to be more devastating for women especially when they are using birth control pills. Other effects of smoking on an individual’s body include yellowing of teeth, wrinkling of the skin, persistent bad breath, slow performance of activities, and loss of bone density.

In families where one of the household members is a smoker, the others become secondary smokers and are, therefore, exposed to some of the effects of the smoke including the probability of contracting diseases related to smoking. This is especially dangerous for children of a parent who smokes (Golden, Peterson and Dingwell, 102).

With increasing sicknesses resulting from smoking, many governments across the world have been forced to expand their healthcare plan to cover patients who have diseases related to smoking. In effect, this has made a huge chunk of the national budget earmarked for the health sector to suffice for this growing demand.

The other effect of smoking is that various restrictions have had to be introduced in an effort to rein in this behavior. One popular restriction is the minimum age until which one is not allowed to smoke. In many countries this would be either 16 or 18 years (Golden, Peterson and Dingwell, 112). The other restriction concerns advertisement where cigarette related or sponsored commercials are regulated in terms of time and location where they are aired. This applies to advertisement on the television and outdoor billboards. People who own social places have had to comply with regulations to reduce smokers’ impact on general public.

On a positive note, many governments have raised substantive income by imposing heavy taxes on smokers. These monies are used to recurrently finance budgets of these governments. 

In conclusion, it is noteworthy that tobacco and marijuana remain the most popular choices for smokers. Many governments have made considerable efforts in regulating consumption of these substances. The main ones have been the imposition of heavy taxes on tobacco industry and outright outlawing of marijuana. As a contraband good, the usage of marijuana becomes limited. However, the black market that supplies it grows because of the high demand. Addiction, peer pressure, stress, and low self-esteem are key causes of smoking while diseases like heart attack, cancer, and emphysema are some of the manifest effects of smoking on smoker’s health.