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Smoking is the central aspect of prevention programs designed to keep people from beginning to smoke, as opposed to programs that attempt to induce people to stop once they have already become smokers.

In the psychology context, smoking refers to the behavior of using tobacco products, typically cigarettes, and the psychological factors that contribute to the initiation and maintenance of this behavior. Psychology explores why individuals begin smoking, why they continue, and what factors can help in cessation.


Smoking is often studied within the framework of health psychology and addiction studies, where it is viewed as a complex behavior influenced by a variety of psychological, social, and environmental factors. Key psychological aspects include addiction to nicotine, habit formation, stress relief, and social influences like peer pressure or family smoking behaviors.

From a psychological perspective, smoking is frequently maintained by its addictive properties—nicotine creates a physical and psychological dependence. Additionally, smoking can serve as a coping mechanism for managing negative emotions or stress, and it may be reinforced socially among peers who also smoke.

Application Areas

Understanding the psychological aspects of smoking is crucial for designing effective smoking cessation programs and interventions. This includes:

  • Clinical psychology: Offering counseling and behavior modification therapies to help individuals quit smoking.
  • Health psychology: Developing public health campaigns and interventions to prevent smoking initiation and promote cessation.
  • Social psychology: Examining how group dynamics and identity influence smoking behavior.

Well-Known Examples

Notable psychological theories and approaches related to smoking include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Used in smoking cessation to help individuals recognize and alter thoughts and behaviors associated with smoking.
  • Stages of Change Model (Transtheoretical Model): This model describes the stages individuals go through in altering a behavior, including precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance, and is often applied to smoking cessation.

Treatment and Risks

Psychological treatments for smoking may include behavioral therapies, motivational interviewing, and support groups. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and medications can also be used in conjunction with psychological approaches to address both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

The risks of not addressing the psychological components of smoking include a higher likelihood of relapse in those attempting to quit and the potential for more severe health consequences due to continued smoking.

Similar Terms

Related psychological terms include:

  • Addiction: A condition in which a person engages in the use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences.
  • Habit formation: The process by which new behaviors become automatic and are performed with little or no conscious thought.


Articles with 'Smoking' in the title

  • Passive smoking: Passive smoking means non-smokers' inhaling of smoke as a result of exposure to smokers. Passive smoking is believed to cause health problems such as Bronchitis, Emphysema, and Lung cancer
  • Smoking cessation: Smoking cessation in psychology refers to the process of discontinuing tobacco smoking, which involves overcoming both physical dependence on nicotine and psychological dependence on the habits and routines associated with smoking


In psychology, smoking is viewed not just as a physical addiction to nicotine but also as a behavior deeply influenced by psychological, social, and environmental factors. Effective smoking cessation requires a comprehensive understanding of these factors, emphasizing both intervention and prevention strategies tailored to individual psychological profiles and circumstances.


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