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Smoking and Cognitive Dissonance Theory


Among the extraordinarily vast range of habits that hurt one’s health, smoking is often seen as the most common one. Smoking is typically associated with a plethora of health issues, including respiratory complications, increased threat of heart disease, and other multiple concerns. However, due to a set of preconceptions and the unwillingness to abandon the habit of smoking, patients are rarely inclined to abandon this habit. This paper seeks to study smoking from the perspective of the Cognitive Dissonance Theory (CDT) and dissect the issue of dissonance-reducing beliefs in smoking people.

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Smoking and CDT


The problem of smoking has been in existence since the discovery of tobacco, yet very few solutions to the dependency that the specified substance causes have been provided. The lack of willingness to accept the threat of smoking, which most patients have shown, can be explained from the standpoint of the CDT, which suggests that the development of habits such as smoking occurs in cognitive dissonance to the understanding of the harmful effects thereof (Yip et al., 2020). Specifically, the theory suggests that to create an environment in which smoking becomes ethically acceptable and even morally conformable, smokers need to reduce the extent of cognitive dissonance. Consequently, a therapy that increases the levels of cognitive dissonance can be considered a suitable suggestion for assisting smokers in managing their addiction.

Problem Scale

The extent to which the problem of smoking has been growing is truly immense. According to the World Health Organization (2020), the problem of smoking has reached the scale of the global epidemic since nearly 65% of the world population are currently defined as smokers. Therefore, understanding the nature of the issue and creating the framework that would help smokers to abandon their habits is vital for addressing the specified public health issue. In addition, due to the adverse impact that smoking produces on people’s health status, the introduction of strategies aimed at reducing smoking rates will help to manage other common public health concerns, such as respiratory conditions in smokers.


Examining the issue at hand, one will realize that smoking has been addressed multiple times by healthcare organizations and experts, yet to no avail. Despite numerous campaigns produced to prove the harm and damage produced by smoking, the specified problem remains a major concern (Baliunas et al., 2020). Therefore, an immediate course of action is required to convince people to cease smoking or, at the very least, to reduce their daily intake of nicotine to a minimum.


As emphasized above, the adoption of the CDT framework and the development of the strategy based on the main CDT premise is needed. Namely, the fact that smoking is facilitated by the artificial reduction in the extent of cognitive dissonance must be used as the foundational premise of the new strategy for addressing the problem of smoking on a public health level (Orcullo & San, 2016). As a result, people will be able to recognize the presence of an obvious denial in their attitudes toward smoking. Consequently, the target demographic will feel the need to abandon smoking, thus creating the grounds for a massive improvement in health rates.


By incorporating the key CDT premise concerning the presence of cognitive dissonance in decision-making when choosing to smoke, one will be able to create the foundation for successful therapy against smoking and the further promotion of public health management. Since smoking remains to be a massive global health issue, the increase in the efficacy of strategies used to help people cease to smoke or avoid it at all costs is vital. In turn, the CDT-based approach is likely to improve the management of smoking.


Baliunas, D., Zawertailo, L., Voci, S., Gatov, E., Bondy, S. J., Fu, L., & Selby, P. L. (2020). Variability in patient sociodemographics, clinical characteristics, and healthcare service utilization among 107,302 treatment seeking smokers in Ontario: A cross-sectional comparison. PloS One, 15(7), 1-15. Web.

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Orcullo, D. J. C., & San, T. H. (2016). Understanding cognitive dissonance in smoking behaviour: A qualitative study. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 6(6), 481-484. Web.

World Health Organization. (2020). WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2019. Web.

Yip, D., Gubner, N., Le, T., Williams, D., Delucchi, K., & Guydish, J. (2020). Association of Medicaid expansion and health insurance with receipt of smoking cessation services and smoking behaviors in substance use disorder treatment. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 47(2), 264-274. Web.

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