Why Smoking is Bigger in Europe

Hannah Henderson, Staff Writer

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As you walk down the streets of Salt Lake City, you will occasionally pass someone smoking a cigarette, but usually not very often. As you walk down the streets of Split, Croatia, though, every few people you pass are smoking cigarettes. The difference of people who smoke in America versus Europe is significantly different and raises many questions for travelers switching between the two destinations.

Statistics show that 15.1% of Americans smoke while about 28% of all Europeans smoke cigarettes. Why is this such a significant difference? While these studies have shown that Americans are significantly less likely to smoke than Europeans, it becomes very confusing when you account for the higher prices and anti-smoking regulations, which are both higher in Europe. This confusion leads to the idea that the main reason for the high numbers in Europe is simply because of tradition and beliefs.

Local Croatian, Anto Antolovie explains his experience with smoking and claims that it’s the common thing to do in his community.

“My father was a smoker along with his father,” Antolovie said, “so I began smoking as well.”

Antolovie began smoking at age 19 and quit 11 years later for his religion.

“I knew the effects of smoking but never thought about them while I was doing it,” Antolovie said. “It’s just the tradition that everyone in my community practiced so it was so easy to go along with it.”

Almost one-half of the smoking difference comes from the different beliefs about the health effects of smoking, where Americans tend to believe that cigarettes are more harmful than Europeans. This idea that Europeans may not have the same belief of the harmful effects of smoking is interesting when you know that each cigarette pack has a picture or list of the harmful effects of smoking such as cancerous lungs or rotten teeth.

“I never even payed attention the pictures on the packs.” Antolovie said. “You would just go straight to the center because you wanted them so badly. People rarely told me not to smoke or the effects of smoking because everyone did it.”

Because of the nicotine in each cigarette, people become so addicted to them that they don’t care about the effects no matter how bad they may be. This was the case for Antolovie when he was still smoking as well as his community.

Though more people smoke in Europe than in America, the effects of smoking are the same for each. The reasons for smoking are also often similar, but the amount of knowledge about smoking may be different. Europeans are not shown the effects of smoking as much as Americans because it’s usually considered the “norm” for each community.

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