The apparent increase in smoking among Generation Z is likely a combination of celebrity influence and a nihilistic outlook on life.
That’s according to Guardian writer Alaina Demopoulos, who recently wrote about the increasing number of young celebrities photographed smoking.
She noted one photo of actress Anya Taylor-Joy drinking coffee and smoking on a footpath, which was described as “iconic”.
Another Tweet featuring influencer Kylie Jenner said, “heroin chic and skinny is back in”.
Ms Demopoulous told Moncrieff celebrities – and by extension, their young fans – now want to “project this sort of party girl, early 2000s image”.
“Lily-Rose Depp [was photographed] walking to her car from a party in Cannes,” she said. “She's lighting up and she knows that there are going to be paparazzi there.
“It definitely seems to be an image that people want to project - just sort of like grungy, edgy, indie-sleaze, if you will.”
these pictures of anya taylor-joy drinking coffee and smoking on the sidewalk will never not be iconic pic.twitter.com/CdwbLaWnyt
— hourly anya taylor-joy (@everyhouranya) September 2, 2022
Trends are “totally cyclical”, according to Ms Demopoulous, so it seemed about time Gen Z took inspiration from the late 90s and early 2000s to bring back smoking.
“But I think there's something a little bit deeper about that too,” she said.
“We do have younger people who just came out of a pandemic, and there definitely seems to be a desire to party, to care a little bit less.
“And what is a more classic image of rebellion than smoking?”
There is more “nihilism” among Gen Z, which could prompt them to smoke more.
“[They think] there are bigger problems that we're going to have to deal with than smoking a cigarette every once in a while,” Ms Demopoulous said.
A shift from vaping to smoking is also likely, despite e-cigarettes being invented largely to get people off tobacco.
“[A vape] doesn't have the cool factor that a cigarette does,” Ms Demopoulous said. “Seeing someone hit a vape is never going to be the same as seeing someone take a long drag on a cigarette.”
Host Sean Moncrieff noted he has seen many Dublin teenagers roll their own cigarettes rather than buy a pack.
“There is something more tactile about [rolling],” Ms Demopoulous said. “A little bit more interesting and a little bit more intriguing.”
Ms Demopoulous said the rise in smoking among the younger generation likely won’t last.
“You smoke cigarettes for a few years and then you kind of wisen up,” she said. “I don't think Gen Z is doomed to be the generation that totally brings back smoking.”
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