Why children start smoking

One of Kohlberg’s moral dilemmas he used was of Heinz. This was one of his most common known. It was of Heinz’s wife who was dying from an uncommon form of cancer. She needed a special drug in order to get better, but was unable to afford it, so asked the druggist if he could pay half now and half later. This was not possible so Heinz broke into the store and stole the drug instead. Kohlberg’s dilemmas are criticised because they are too difficult to relate to. They were also too hypothetical in the sense that not every situation is black and white.

Many of his criticisms have centred around on the possibilities that is culturally biased and that it underestimates the moral sophistication of young children. Critics have said that Kholberg has only really considered a western ideal and has not considered non western societies who do not value individualism and individual rights highly enough to want to challenge societies rules. For example, Hindus regard it as morally necessary for a man to beat his disobedient wife in order to uphold his obligations as head of the family. In the western society, this is morally wrong for any kind of domestic violence.

It has also become a law not to beat your partner. There is also criticism of Kholberg that his theory was gender biased. His theory centred too much on male morality, such as justice, rather than a female approach like caring, responsibility and sympathy. Carol Gilligan (1982) had criticised Kohlberg’s theory of development and asked her researchers to assess if gender or even gender role has an affect on moral judgement. After her research had been carried out, it was concluded that women did worse on Kohlberg’s dilemmas as they were too male orientated and they did much better on Gilligan’s dilemmas as they were more care orientated.

It would be interesting to see how these theories would tie in with social morals such as crime or illegal drug taking. First it is helpful to try to understand the concept of drug misuse. The concept and studies of drug abuse and treatment of drug problems were organised around addiction. This view follows the line of thought that people who had problems with drugs were addicted because the drug made them addicted. An addict was compelled by a psychological need to take the drug and if they didn’t they would experience some sort of horrible physical and psychological symptoms when trying to stop.

Furthermore, they would become worse without the drug so would commit further crimes in order to pay for the drug and neglect their normal roles in society, which could be harming anyone around them including their most loved ones. The case is that some drugs are more addictive than others. For example heroin, tobacco and crack cocaine are the most prime candidates for physical addiction if gone beyond pure experimentation. Alcohol, temazepam, valiums, solvents amphetamines have users who are not addicted. This is not to say however that they can not be addicted.

There are thousands of users of amphetamine users who use the drug purely for clubbing and partying most weekends and carry on in society as expected. There are also on the other side of the coin individuals who have been affected by the drug physically or psychologically and are unable to function properly in society without the use of one of the above named drugs – perhaps as many as ten percent. (Brown R. I. F. 1987. ) Cannabis, hallucogenic drugs like LSD, ecstasy and magic mushrooms lead to addiction more rarely.

This again is not to say there is no psychological effect as this is an area no one knows for sure the long term effects through the use of these drugs. There have been however a few accountable cases of individual cases of drug induced mental health illnesses as with most drugs. Cannabis has been tried by as many as forty percent of people under the age of thirty years old. About ten per cent of cannabis users will become dependant, although the dependence is not as severe as some other drugs. Cannabis is used in conjunction with a lot of other drugs however.

People with mental health problems appear to use cannabis as often as anyone else. This is not an area that has been well researched, yet clinical impressions are that cannabis use often worsens the mental health of people who already have existing problems. (Commentaries,1996). The key idea is that substance users can be divided into addicts with problems and non-addicts, who have no problems due to their substance use. One of the defects in the concept of addiction is that the division is too simple. These days most users are not exactly addicts but there substance misuse will have contributed to or worsened their particular problems.

To illustrate this we can take cigarette smoking as an example. Apart from the obvious risks which is advertised on packets posters and the media all the time there are still a relatively large amount of smokers. Most smokers are addicted, yet compared to alcohol or heroin it is a benign addiction. It can be a huge drain on peoples finances, especially those on low incomes, it is a common cause of fires, which can have catastrophic effects. Less obviously, it also encourages young adolescents with their first consumption of an addictive drug and breaking the law if they are under sixteen years of age.

Young smokers are associated with doing badly academically at school. Having poor social skills and have an inclination to be delinquent. (Goddard, 1990) Perhaps society has just accepted smoking addiction now. Juvenile delinquency once consisted of smoking cigarettes. Now, the illegal drug trade moves more money around the world than the economies of some countries. (Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. ) The concept of addiction is not very helpful as some people are dependant and some people are abusers of some drugs.

The concept of addiction to a drug remains so popular because it brings a helpful belief to some people in society. This belief being that the benefits it brings to them can release them for some of the blame. For example, it enables them to gain help from society in the form of leniency with the judicianal system or gain more medication for their misuse. There is a theory linked to nutrition and behaviour. Peter Bennett is of the opinion that addictions and social stress, including mental health illness are rising to the point of destroying the very social fabric of our societies.

Thus being that societies morals are being destroyed through the destruction of societies behaviour. He suggests that nutrition is the main cause of behavioural problems and can affect behaviour in many ways. These include food additives, food allergy, vitamin and mineral imbalances and essential fatty acid deficiencies. Peter Bennett states that prescribed drugs, street drugs and smoking are all considered to have adverse physiological effects, even if there is some psychological effects as well. Recent addiction research had been focusing on how nutritional conditions can cause or contribute to drug abuse.

The conclusion had shown that there were certain nutrients and food that was found in addicts and criminals. However, psychological and environmental considerations had to be taken into account. In my opinion this is a very thoughtful and perhaps important consideration. There could be a number of factors that tie in with morality and anti-social behaviour such as drug misuse. In conclusion, morals are usually based on nothing more than common sense. Promiscuity has been discouraged in most cultures because of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, infidelity because it breaks up the very core of the family.

Murder is not tolerated because it is the very antithesis of survival. Moral codes are as old as man himself and have been developed in every activity in which people interact. It has become evident that trying to understand moral reasoning is very complex. There are so many different theories and different ways of ‘measuring’ moral development, and so many different stages. We have to ask if there really are stages to moral development, and if behaviour such as drug taking or crime is because of lack of moral development.

Over time , men have learned that in order for a group to survive, the individuals within it have to agree upon codes of conduct, or what is considered as proper. In it’s essence, then, a moral code is no more and no less than simply a series of agreements to which a person agrees.


GROSS, RICHARD. (2001) Psychology. The Science of Mind and Behaviour. Fourth Edition. BROWN R. I. F. (1987) “Pathological gambling and associated patterns of crime. ” Journal of gambling behaviour. GODDARD, E. (1990) Why children start smoking. London: HMSO.

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