According to the World Health Organization’s Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic (WHO, 2008), smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. In 2008, tobacco smoking was estimated to have killed more than five million people — more than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined; and by 2030, it is projected that the death toll will exceed eight million a year (WHO, 2008). The report further highlighted an obvious but commonly-overlooked fact: tobacco is the only legal consumer product that can harm everyone exposed to it
– and it kills up to half of those who use it as intended (WHO. 2008). Yet, tobacco use is common throughout the world due to many factors including low prices, aggressive and widespread marketing, lack of awareness about its dangers, inconsistent public policies against its use, person-related factors, among other factors (Center for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC, 2010a; Gilman & Xun, 2004; WHO, 2008; Wingand, 2006).
Because they are engaging in an activity that has negative effects on health, people who smoke tend to rationalize their behaviour. In other words, they develop convincing, if not necessarily logical reasons why smoking is acceptable for them to do. For example, a smoker could justify his or her behavior by concluding that everyone dies and so cigarettes do not actually change anything. Or a person could believe that smoking relieves stress or has other benefits that justify its risks. The reasons given by smokers for this activity are broadly categorized as addictive smoking, pleasure from smoking, tension reduction/relaxation, social smoking, stimulation, and habit/automatism (Berlin, Singleton, Pedarriosse, Lancrenon, Flames. Aubin, 8: Niaura, 2003}. Researchers have also reported that some people use smoking for the pleasure of handling the cigarette (Berlin et al., 2003; Wang, Yu and Zhu, 1994).