Cigarettes after sex. Cigarettes with Chai. Cigarettes when it's raining. Cigarettes whenever you're stressed! There's just something about the kick from a cigarette that makes smokers want to smoke.
In spite of the ill effects of cigarettes known to all (a big thanks to Mukesh for reminding us before every movie), Indians continue to love a good smoke. There are approximately 120 million smokers in India, with the country being home to 12% of the world's smokers.
Cigarette users are cut across demographics. It includes college students smoking their way through breaks, adults that have been addicted to tobacco for years and even aged people that have developed a fancy for the occasional smoke. Irrespective of age, gender, or lifestyle what they all have in common is the craving for the sweet release their mind and body experiences after a drag.
Why do people smoke after sex?
A lot of people seem to prefer a smoke right after sex or a meal. While there's no scientific explanation for this, it was surely perceived the best time to light up a smoke. "It feels like the experience of eating or having sex is elongated with the use of a cigarette. It helps keep me in that zone for longer and I feel fully satisfied after one," said Freya, a 25-year-old, graphic designer from Pune. While there's no study to back the claim, the internet certainly seems to agree! Reddit and Quora host numerous forums with users hoping to find some concrete information around this habit. In fact, when it comes to smoking after sex, the opinions were widely accepting of the fact that smoking after sex is the way to go. "My body craves for nicotine. It's a feeling that is not really explainable. Maybe smoking after sex feels so satisfying is because maybe after so much exercise when you sit, calm down, and take a drag it gives a feeling of relief to you? I don't know how it's related but it does." wrote one Reddit user.
Pop culture often fetishes smoking
A reason for people's love for cigarettes after sex (pun intended) may branch out to their psychological association with the activity. For a long long time, we've seen the act of lighting up a cigarette after sex shown as a desirable activity. Be it the name of a band we’re all obsessed with or Nicole Kidman lighting a joint in bed in Kubrik’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, smoking a cigarette after sex has often been depicted as a cool and relaxing activity.
Smoking can also be a fetish for some people. A smoking fetish means deriving pleasure from watching other people smoke. According to Psychology Today, this fetish stems from watching eroticised depictions of the femme fatale smoking in noir films, or Hollywood icons such as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn always with a cigarette in their hands, an indication of their status and wealth, highlighting a power dynamic. Since cigarettes were advertised as expensive handmade luxury goods for the elite, these depictions in movies helped them propagate their product even further. Hollywood films in the 1940s-50s made smoking look like the epitome of glamour and cool. And the after-effects of that has stayed with us. In recent years, it has also become a very popular category on porn websites.
Smoking can become a habit if you condition yourself to associate smoking with another event or feeling
Experts say that if you smoke during, before or after a routine activity long enough, your brain starts to associate the two and those activities act as nicotine triggers. Some smoke after sex, because their brain starts demanding nicotine because it’s been subconsciously conditioned to. "I smoke because I like the 2 minutes that you get after smoking. It has sort of become a habit for me" said Sushank, a project manager from Mumbai on being asked why he prefers a cigarette after sex.
Another 26-year-old writer, Shalabh from Bangalore, tells Bingedaily, "Well, the first time I had a cigarette was in my first year of college. I didn't like it at first and it was restricted to just social gatherings. I'm in my final year now and I need to have one in the morning, one during my break and obviously one with chai after college is done."
It always starts with just one drag
This is the story of numerous people who begin the habit with a single drag and eventually become regular smokers. What fuels one's cigarette smoking addiction is nicotine, which is present in abundance in a cigarette. What starts as a casual or an occasional smoke becomes a habit in no time. As smokers become used to the nicotine rush they tend to build a tolerance to the substance. And now smokers need a lot more tobacco to get the same rush or high. Thus, as their tolerance for nicotine increases over time, and a smoker can be found having more and more cigarettes to satisfy their need for nicotine.
Essentially, the rush from nicotine is what prompts users to continue smoking cigarettes, even when they're fully aware of its health consequences. The effects on the body and the mind are just too attractive for one to focus on the damage each drag does.
Cigarettes can cause hiccups in your sex life
Well, we don't want to sound preachy or kill your 'cigarettes after sex' vibe, but smoking can have some adverse effects on your sexual health. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, smoking was found to be associated with an increased risk of developing bacterial vaginosis for women. Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation caused by the multiplication and overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in the vagina. Another study by the National Library of Medicine concluded that there is extensive evidence to support the claim that smoking can worsen erectile dysfunction. Again, this might hamper one's performance in bed. So maybe you can space your nicotine sessions and sexual activity in a way that it doesn't become excessive.
"I've never had a cigarette after sex. I think it's kinda rude if you do so. But I perfectly get why someone would do that. Whenever I have a cigarette, my mind usually just relaxes after that, at the same time it's this state of satisfaction, like you have when you stretch for the first time in the morning. Imagine that after an orgasm!" says Yash.
"While I don't like the fact that I smoke whenever I'm tense or stressed, I do exactly that. It's the only time I smoke, to be honest. It's difficult to explain though. Smoking a cig helps just slow me down a bit and gives me a bit of clarity. That is what I exactly need if I'm a bit stressed." said Roohi, a 27 year-old physician.
The chemical romance between nicotine and your brain
The feeling of satisfaction experienced by a smoker is perfectly understandable if one is aware of the chemical effects of nicotine on the human body. Nicotine alters the balance of 2 chemicals called dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. It alters their chemical levels, thus changing the mood and concentration levels. Nicotine inhalation via a cigarette is followed by it rushing quickly to the brain where it produces feelings of pleasure and reduces stress and anxiety. Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco smoke are easily absorbed into the blood through the lungs. From there, nicotine quickly spreads throughout the body.
When taken in small amounts nicotine causes pleasant feelings and distracts the user from nagging feelings and thoughts. It is also believed to give a little bit of an adrenaline rush - not enough to notice, but enough to speed up the heart. If you're a smoker your brain is filled with nicotine receptors. When the nicotine from a cigarette unlocks the nicotine receptors, a feel-good chemical called dopamine is released, giving you a little "hit" or "buzz"
While the sweet buzz of a cigarette is certainly attractive when you want to chill out and reduce your stress, it is important to understand that the rush does not last for long. You may actually end up becoming immune to the sweet feeling that you experience after a smoke. Till then, enjoy your puff!