Could it be a delayed chemical reaction that creates a feeling of fear and anxiety in the smoker ? My theory is different in that rather than blame nicotine dependency as the cause for continual smoking, it is only a small part of the whole smoking process. I believe it is a delayed chemical reaction that creates the feeling known to the smoker as 'withdrawals'. A chemical such as carbon monoxide or Hydrogen cyanide may cause an increased amount of cortisol into the blood stream that would cause the 'fight or flight response' in the smoker. In other words it mimics an essential reaction needed to survive. Unlike normal danger triggers such as seeing something frightening or smelling danger there is nothing visible to the smoker and because of this there is no way of 'getting away' from this feeling. For example if you are afraid of dogs and you see a large angry looking dog coming towards you your fight or flight response will be activated and increased cortisol will be produced and you will move away from the perceived danger. By going behind a closed door say you will be doing something to relieve that fear. The level of cortisol will then stop being produced and the fear will subside. With smoking however there is no visible thing to be afraid of and so there is no way of getting away from these feeling of sudden increased fear and anxiety. even if the smoker ran to the end of the earth they would not be able to reduce that feeling of fear. There is a role for nicotine in this process though. Nicotine can halt the production of cortisol and rather than acting on the brain it actually affects the Adrenal gland first and that halts the flow of the cortisol into the system and effectively reduces that perceived fear to a less frightening level. Not rid of altogether but enough to convince the sub-conscious part of the brain that smoking the cigarette has relived the stress and fear felt moments earlier. Because this whole process happens about an hour after smoking the last cigarette the two things. the smoking of the last cigarette and the fear and subsequent reduction in fear by smoking the next cigarette are never linked together. This primitive instinct that all humans have i.e. the instinct to survive is the prime cause of the uptake in smoking as the new smoker believes that smoking will help in a stressful situation and the reason why people cannot just stop smoking. i.e. the safety net. All smokers have convinced themselves that without smoking they will not be able to cope. This is borne out after their attempts to quit. They are told that after a certain amount of time the nicotine is out of their bodies and so when weeks after quitting they come across a situation that is stressful they feel the compulsion to smoke. What they have felt is the same reaction that was created by the chemicals in tobacco. This time rather than an artificial feeling of fear and anxiety it is genuine but if the smoker is still convinced that smoking will relieve this feeling there conscious mind will shut out all other thoughts that do not directly contribute to the relief of the fear and anxiety. In other words the fact that smoking is bad for you or that it may damage them does not register as this is not the answer. When they have smoked they again enter the cycle of delayed reaction that ensures a steady flow of cortisol into the bloodstream that creates the artificial fear. The prolonged over-production of cortisol causes serious damage to brain cells. Often killing them. The main affected area is the amygdala that also plays a pivotal role in the stress response. Many people start smoking at between 10 and 15 years old. The exact time that this part of the brain is developing and growing from a Childs brain into a young adults. It is also the time when the young adult is learning the new techniques for coping with the added stress and anxiety in their lives at this time. By smoking at this point smoking hijacks that ability to develop. I do not think there has been any scientific studies done to establish how many smokers have got mental illnesses such as Bi-polar or general anxiety disorders but I would suspect that it would run to a very high percentage. Rather than telling young people that they may or may not develop cancer in about 30-40 years - which to a teenager is a lifetime away. Tell them the truth about the mental effects of smoking. That in 6 - 12 months they will have developed a serious mental illness that will then require them to self-medicate themselves with cigarettes until they face the fact or are told what is happening to them. For people with diagnosed mental illnesses the percentage of smokers is about 75 - 90 % and many people believe that smoking is a way of them coping with there condition but what if they would not have had any such problems without first smoking. Many people smoke start smoking as said above at about 10 - 15 years old. well before any symptoms of illness are prevalent. So which came first the cigarette or the illness. Are people smoking because their ill or ill because their smoking ? I really would appreciate your thoughts on this and if it is possible.