Caroline, 13, schoolgirl: I smoke because I like it, OK? We all do. Get them from people in the street or round at the shop if they split packs. My mum doesn't know, though.

Emma, 26, freelance writer: I had my first cigarette when I was 13. I don't get a rush, or any physical feeling, and to be quite honest, I don't even like the taste of cigarettes: the next morning I'm always, like, ugh! at the taste in my mouth. I only ever smoke in the evenings, especially if I'm with a bloke. I think it can be quite chic, I suppose.

Sarah, 21, insurance clerk: I get a real buzz off the first fag of the day, then I just do it out of habit. I smoke 20 a day but I've cut down to lights. I don't feel right with a drink in one hand if there's no fag in the other.

Kylie, 13, schoolgirl: I only do it after school with my mates, just a couple before I go home. I don't really like it much. It makes me feel a bit sick.

Brenda, 53, housewife: I first started when I was around 15, it was so daring then and all the lads thought you were a bit of a one to be reckoned with if you dared to have a drag. I did feel a bit sort of sexy back then, but when you get to my age it has to be something else. I still love a cigarette with a drink and my first one with a cup of tea in the morning is bliss. But mostly it's habit, hooked on nicotine. It's just something I do, now, but you can't beat a morning cuppa and a cigarette to wake you up.

Jane, 28, PA: I started smoking at first when I was 17, in sixth form at boarding school, but it was all a bit of posturing and I didn't really inhale very much. It was at art school that I began smoking properly because everyone else did. We were all 18 and everyone else seemed to be from London and dead in the know - so if you were a smoker like them it let you in to this social circle. And then I soon realised that cigarettes were delicious anyway. I do love the taste of them and everyone I know smokes so I suppose there's a sense not that it would be unsexy not to, more a sense that it would be faintly puritanical. I still find the first one of the day makes me feel slightly sick but the rest are divine.

Anna, 30, legal secretary: I started when I was 22. I've no idea why. Everyone at school always did and I never felt any sense of peer pressure. I love smoking, everything about it. The action, the hand to mouth thing, lighting up. I suppose it's comforting but I generally smoke because I really fancy a cigarette. I count out five a day and try to stick to it but if I have a really bad day then I can end up having 15, that's if I've been out and got pissed and forgotten all about it. I think smoking's only glam if the person doing it's glam. I'd never think it was sexy to see an old person shuffling about with a cigarette. I just love smoking, it's a pleasure.

Helen, 19, student: I'd feel awkward if I didn't. All my friends do it and I think I felt like I had to to prove something at first. I was 14 when I started, you know all the extra strong mint stuff before you go home to your Mum and Dad. But I do like them, just not as much as I used to. If I'm out with a pint I feel embarrassed and a bit self-conscious if I don't have a tab in my other hand.