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Why don’t smokers quit?

The evidence is clear: smoking is horrible for your health, and quitting benefits not only your health, but your wallet. These things are fairly obvious, and non-smokers often ask the same question: “Why don’t smokers quit?”

In fact, about 70% of all smokers want to quit. In any given year, nearly half try to quit. Few of them succeed. Quitting is difficult for many reasons, such as advertising, social pressures, and/or failure to use cessation tools effectively. But quitting smoking is hard for one overarching reason: addiction.

While many of the ingredients in cigarettes are harmful, nicotine is the element that is addictive. According to the World Health Organization, “A cigarette is an efficient, well-engineered nicotine delivery device that has proved to be deadly when smoked regularly. Nicotine from a smoked cigarette will reach the brain in as little as 7 seconds after inhalation.” The addictive effect of nicotine is linked to its capacity to trigger the release of dopamine – a chemical in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure.

The tobacco industry has been using nicotine addiction to their advantage since the beginning. And we need your help to stop them.

The industry has been aware of the addictiveness of nicotine since at least the 1960’s, but they lied about it for decades because they argue that smoking is a “free choice”, and therefore they are not responsible for the health consequences of smoking. However, tobacco corporations have long realized that addiction is good for their business.

A British American Tobacco memo from 1979 said, “We also think that consideration should be given to the hypothesis that the high profits additionally associated with the tobacco industry are directly related to the fact that the customer is dependent on the product.”

The tobacco industry STILL tries to downplay the addictiveness of nicotine by comparing it to common activities that people enjoy; the tobacco industry has likened nicotine addiction to cravings for chocolate, love, coffee, tea, soda, the internet and shopping.

Nicotine addiction is not like any of these things.

Nicotine addiction is a contagious disease, spread by tobacco corporations, who manipulate their products to make them more addictive. Tobacco companies have created cigarettes that are highly efficient at delivering nicotine into the body, making it easier to become addicted and harder to quit.

Cigarettes are more addictive now than they have ever been.

Research shows that the nicotine yield, or the amount of nicotine that cigarettes deliver, has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. In fact, it has gone up 15%. These actions are entirely purposeful, designed to ensure that tobacco companies’ customers stay addicted.

This is why ASH is committed to fighting the vector of the tobacco epidemic: the tobacco corporations.

We hit back against big tobacco in trade agreements, the UN global development goals, and with the launch of our criminal liability program. ASH also continues to monitor and publicize big tobacco’s marketing tactics that seek to circumvent public health policies.

We drew attention to their inappropriate partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that was used to strong-arm other countries away from implementing tobacco control measures. And we launched our own media campaigns to portray tobacco products as the deadly consumer products that they are.

Although many people choose to experiment with cigarettes, no one chooses addiction. It is unconscionable that tobacco corporations intentionally manipulate addiction in order to increase their profits.

With your help, we will continue to fight back against tobacco corporations and the death, disease, and destruction that they wreak on our society. We won’t allow future generations to suffer through nicotine addiction. Together, we will build a healthier world for you, your family, and your friends.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter of our fight against Big Tobacco. Your donation will allow ASH to continue this life-saving battle.