teen_smoking

Hello Rene,

I’d really love your advice!

All of my friends smoke and they’ve been pressuring me to give it a go.

I tried a couple of cigarettes but I don’t really like the taste, but everyone around me is saying how cool they are and that if I don’t smoke I’m being a baby.

I know my parents would be mad if they knew I was smoking, but I don’t have many friends and I want to fit in.

Also my older brother, Nick, smokes – although he doesn’t know that I know!

What should I do Rene?

Rachel, 13

 

Hi Rachel:

This question has a one-word answer, NO!  One of the things I like to do in life when presented with a dilemma is to list the pros and cons, the good and bad. So let’s take a look, shall we?

GOOD:

Um… still thinking.  Wait, I think I might have one. No, never mind.

BAD:

Health issues: Cigarettes contain the incredibly addictive drug nicotine. Once you get hooked it takes a long time and several tries to quit. Cigarette smoking is linked to lung and other cancers as well as a host of other health issues.

They’re expensive: Let’s do the math. The average pack of smokes runs four bucks. Let’s say you smoke half a pack a day; that means you’re buying more than three packs a week, $4×3 (packs) = $12. $12×4 (weeks) = $48. $48×12 (months) = $576.00. Nearly 600 bucks a year up in smoke and that number will go up as it takes more nicotine to satisfy your burgeoning habit.

They make you smell: Your hair and breath will smell like you just left a casino. Have you ever looked at the hands of a longtime smoker? The tips of their fingers are yellow and gross. Take a look at their skin. It’s wrinkled and resembles crepe paper. Yes, we’re all going to wrinkle but why hurry it along? Don’t spend a lot of money on nice clothes because they’re gonna smell too.

Ask your doctor about the immediate affects: He/she will tell you it really does a number on your blood vessels.  That in turn, affects your blood pressure, which makes your heart have to pump harder. Ask your dentist to see or look up online, the gums of someone who’s been a slave to cigarettes their entire life. You know those pretty white teeth and pink gums you work so hard to take care of? You can kiss those things goodbye and (possibly) say hello to gingivitis or other diseases of the mouth, including oral cancer.

Talk to someone who’s smoked their whole life: If you’re too embarrassed to ask or you don’t know anyone, read some accounts online. I’ve spoken to quite a few of them and not one of them ever said, “Wow I am so glad I took up cigarettes.” In fact, it’s just the opposite; they talk about how much they regret ever lighting up.

Regarding your brother, well, that’s an issue too big for you to deal with so I recommend telling your folks. It’s really for his own health and well-being. Ask your folks not to tell him you told if you’re worried about his reaction.

One of the things you will learn as you travel through life is that some people do bad stuff and in an effort to make themselves feel better about their poor decisions, they try to get others to go along with them. They’ll say, “Everyone does it and it’s cool”. Listen to Good Enough Mother; see that for the smokescreen that it is. Not everyone does it and it is very definitely NOT cool.

So here’s my advice; tell these so-called friends to “butt” out and get yourself a new pack of folks to hang with. You will find friends, those who are truly interested in you and not just looking for a way to excuse their own bad behavior.

Good luck Rachel.

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