In a fast-moving world, we are dealing with increased levels of stress, and some people claim that they get relieved by smoking.
Smokers report that they get an instant reduction in stress levels when smoking, and they feel that this is a quick method to manage anxiety. Many people start smoking in their youth, some as adolescents, because they learn that smoking might be an effective tool to reduce stress (Scales 637). The component in cigarettes that is thought to help with relaxation is nicotine, a fast-acting chemical that also was proved to induce dependency. Even though the exact mechanism and neurochemical effect of smoking is still a research subject in long-term smokers, studies show that nicotine improves attention and cognitive performance. Nicotine was demonstrated to reduce activity in the area of the brain involved in self-referential thought, awareness, and episodic memories. Also, nicotine is thought to increase visual attention during the processing of external factors and stimuli and is involved in dopamine release in the brain, a chemical that was demonstrated to stimulate positive feelings. Dopamine increase is temporary, and in time, the brain no longer produces it on its own, but only when stimulated by nicotine (Tanabe 287). During the day, nicotine depletion occurs relatively quickly after smoking, and tension levels tend to increase afterward (Hajek 1466). This process is thought to be involved in prompting people to smoke more and, in some cases, even depression (Tanabe 287).
Long-term smoking is related to depression or aggravation of other negative emotional states. Research regarding the changes in the mental state and anxiety levels is still to develop as new data might bring information to support or maybe disprove the capacity of smoking to reduce stress.