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Smoking fetishism (also known as capnolagnia) is a sexual fetish based on the sight or image of a person smoking. For many, the fetish appears to have had its roots in early childhood. It is classically conditioned and shaped by many variables. These could include seeing the smoker as a stereotypically sweet, innocent individual behaving in ways that are considered taboo. For others, it stems from an attraction to more worldly people whose smoking epitomizes their strength and self-confidence. Within gay culture, this fetish often stems from the image of masculinity. A 2003 study found that the fetish was not previously the subject of academic study but had been mentioned in "a few newspapers".
The reasons why a man or woman has a smoking fetish may vary from person to person.
Some fetishists[who?] have a fascination with the addictive properties of nicotine, and its ability to cause harm, and there is a sub-fetish relating to people being harmed by smoking, sometimes called "the dark side", "black lung fetish" or "lung damage"..
The increasing intensity of anti-smoking campaigns has turned smoking into a transgressive and taboo act in some cultures; eroticized images of men and women smoking may take some of their power from depicting a taboo being broken. Another cultural source for the fetish may be eroticized depictions of men and women who smoke in older motion pictures, especially from the film noir era.
According to a 2003 study, in fetish videos of smoking women, nudity is not necessary, and what matters is (they quote) "the look, the attitude, the mannerism of smoking." The Wall Street Journal reported in 1996 on the success of a $35 video called "Paula" which featured a woman "inhaling, exhaling and blowing the occasional set of smoke rings."
The diagnostic criteria for fetishism are:
People who experience one or more of the symptoms below are considered to have a smoking fetish:
However, capnolagnia is not considered a disease but an unusual sexual practice, and many of the fetishists do not seek medical help unless this behavior strongly interferes with their daily lives. The majority of people simply learn to accept their fetish and manage to achieve gratification in an appropriate manner.