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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Why do we smoke?
Man smoking cigarette
With World No Tobacco Day approaching and more and more Africans taking up the habit, why do people smoke despite the risks to their health?

African countries are experiencing the highest increase in the rate of tobacco use amongst developing countries, according to the UN.

Tobacco is also used as snuff, a finely ground tobacco that goes up the nose, in pipes or chewed.

Do you smoke, chew or sniff tobacco? Why? If you quit the habit what helped you to give up? What are the latest trends where you live?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Information on the risks involved should be made available in local languages for people to fully appreciate the dangers of smoking.
Shata Michael Mothae, Maseru, Lesotho

I began smoking in 1996 while at high school and like many other smokers, I thought I was doing it for 'fun'. Before I knew it, I was totally addicted. I struggled for nine years to kick the habit, until late 2005 when I prayed to God to help me quit. He answered my prayers as my resolve to quit strengthened and I fully quit in December 2005. My wife also supported my efforts to quit and I'm happy I'm now six months old as an ex-smoker. Laws prohibiting smoking in public places should be enforced and information on the risks involved should be made available in local languages for people to fully appreciate the dangers of smoking.
Shata Michael Mothae, Maseru, Lesotho

I used to be a smoker 'for fun' in the beginning when I go out with friends, especially to a disco party or night clubs. However, it became a habit which was difficult to quit. My girlfriend then, who is now my wife, being a nurse helped me a lot in making sure I quit smoking. In fact there is nothing good in smoking as I later discovered.
Justus Gashau, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Tobacco in itself it's okay if used in moderation. My great grandfathers smoked raw tobacco and lived 100 years and over. Cigarettes have additives, which cause people to smoke unnecessarily, in the process making tobacco companies rich. If one smokes tobacco in its raw form and in moderations, I believe it is not as harmful as we imagine. I do not smoke simply because my mother told me not to. Parents should tell their kids not to smoke and they will listen.
Benjamin Dedjoe, Manhattan, KS USA

Smoking is a sign of irresponsibility and lack of self control. It is bad for one's health, the environment and above all cost millions of money in Cancer research. What more education do we need as human beings? Smoking is expensive and it kills!!
Arthur Ngoka, Wimbledon, England

It is self discipline and determination that can make you quit the habit. I was once a heavy smoker but I decided to quit when I realised that I did not gain anything from it except the deterioration of my health. You just need to ask yourself a question what do I gain from smoking ?
Abe Olusoji, Tromsų, Norway

When I had my first son, I thought the best gift to give him was to quit smoking
Rev Louis Anusionwu, Dakar, Senegal
I used to be a smoker of cigarette for about 20 years. I started smoking in secondary school as a result of peer pressure or just to belong. I graduated to become a walking Benson and Hedges, the brand I smoked. I even went for a smoking competition in my university days. At a time it became a habit, that was too difficult to forgo. Even as a grown man, when I decided to be a pastor and preach the Bible, it was the greatest habit I found it difficult to forgo. But on the 24th of May 2000, when I had my first son, I thought the best gift to give him was to quit smoking. This quitting is not because I preach the Bible but a gift to my son so that I will not die of smoking-related sickness and leave him an orphan.
Rev Louis Anusionwu, Dakar, Senegal

I really don't smoke but do so when I am with friends just for the fun of it and how it make me feel? I feel very relaxed when I do smoke ...every single breath that I take while smoking is enjoyable. I've never really tried to stop because I barely smoke it. Last time I did it was about 5 to 6 weeks ago and I plan to do it soon, when I have the time
Nooora, USA

I hate smokers. I don't like their habits of smoking in public. And the way they smell, it is awful. Smoking should be banned. I had a friend who was a smoker and he ended up suffering from lung cancer.
Festus Chuma, Kampala, Uganda

A lot of Africans smoke because they are unconsciously dancing and swaying to the dubious and unholy intentions and dictates of the big western tobacco companies. These companies, running from huge class action suits and judgements and extremely limiting advertising laws in Europe and America, find Africa a safe haven to gain what they have lost in the western world. This explains their huge investment in advertisement of smoking, which in turn explains Africa's large smoking population.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, Maryland.

I smoke cigars once in a while. Mostly with my friends, along with a stiff brandy. I do it because it's relaxing. I haven't considered quitting. I have never really liked cigarettes. They are addictive and I once saw the lungs of a smoker when I was young. They were blue green! That pretty much erased any need to smoke cigarettes for me!
Bob, Chevakali, Kenya

I used to smoke for fun fifteen years ago but stopped when I gained nothing on smoking tobacco. My father is a heavy smoker and he also produces tobacco. Our family benefit from tobacco because my father buys goats, sheep and grains with tobacco he produces every year.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

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