When it comes to most things that are toxic or otherwise unhealthy in anything but small quantities, people build up a tolerance. You drink caffeine and you start needing more and more of it to achieve the same effects. Of course, tolerance for drugs is an extremely big deal as junkies consume more and more to try to get that same high. Generally speaking, people with a vice try to acquire stronger and stronger variations of that vice to keep going.
Two exceptions that I’ve noticed, though. In my experience, it seems like the more regular a drinker and the more regular a smoker is, the more likely it is that they consume notably inferior product. Instead of building up a tolerance, there is a sort of reverse tolerance where it the quality matters less and less so long as you’re going through the motions.
Very, very few veteran smokers I know still smoke brand name cigarettes. Obviously, if you’re a full-time smoker, cost becomes more of an issue so you don’t want to waste your money on a premium brand if you can get something cheaper that’s almost as good. That’s just common sense.
It goes beyond that, though. First, even those that do smoke brand names seem to smoke lights instead of regulars. And those that go off-brand typically do not gravitate towards brands that produce a similar taste. They instead move towards blandness. Sometimes even light variations where the flagship product is relatively tasteless.
I’m not sure why it’s different for cigarettes and alcohol (where the people I know that drink the most beer frequently drink light beer). Maybe because these products are relatively cheap and accessible compared to drugs. You never have to worry about where you’re going to get your next one from.
A bigger issue, though, I would be that both cigarettes and alcohol serve a cause beyond the infiltration of chemicals into the system. Despite the hit that it’s taken in recent years, smoking remains something of a social activity (outside Deseret, anyway). Drinking, of course, is social as well. They’re also both things that you do while doing something else. I honestly don’t care for the taste of beer, but I enjoy beer as part of a beer-and-football or beer-and-music-show combo.
Because of this, if you partake in the heavier stuff, you can’t do as much of it. One of my favored brands of cigarettes, Maverick, simply can’t be taken in large quantities. It’ll make you sick. Meanwhile I could smoke Cheapo Lights all day (though really, that crosses a threshold of pointlessness for me).
On the whole, I really haven’t fallen prey to the reverse tolerance. In fact, I wonder if I’ve built up real tolerance.
When I started smoking, I started with Marlboros. It’s pretty much the default brand. When I became cost-conscious, like many smokers I started going for discount brands. I settled on Doral at first, though made the shift to Pall Mall. Doral was always pretty inexpensive and the difference in taste was mild enough that it was worth it. Pall Malls had the advantage of often being quite cheap and tasting similar to Doral but with much slower burn times, allowing a smoke to take closer to 10 minutes than 5. I would also smoke Mavericks, though as I mention earlier they act as their own deterrent sometimes.
At some point, though, Pall Malls changed or my taste buds have. My former brand-of-choice may have changed their formulas. They taste like Light cigarettes now and so the main point of buying them anymore is that I enjoy them less and will smoke less. Mostly, though, they taste like the ultra-cheap cigarettes that I could never really get in to. I find that I mildly prefer to get Maverick cigarettes now. Mavericks have a similar benefit in that you can’t smoke too many of them without getting sick and that acts as its own deterrent. When I’m not in the mood to make myself ill, I get USA Gold, which is a sweet spot in between the two.