The war on tobacco in America is gradually being won by the non-smoker -- and good for them. Everyone knows that cigarettes (while delicious) are deadly things. I say this as a former smoker. I say this as the granddaughter of a woman who smoked until her death, a broad who used to call them 'coffin nails.' Cigarettes will kill you. It is not news.
I say I'm a former smoker, but like an alcoholic, though I'm a year down the pike, I'm tempted to say that in my heart, whether or not I'm actually holding a cigarette to my lips, I'll always be a smoker. I started relatively late. I was 17 when I had my first cigarette. Studies say that if a teen makes it to 19 without trying a cigarette -- they are significantly less likely to pick up the habit ever. I just made the cut. Lucky me (she said, dripping with sarcasm).
More from The Stir: Smoking Baby Has 40 Cigarette-a-Day Habit
As the war on smoking enters its 50th year, a lot is being made of getting teens in particular to keep from ever picking up a cigarette. One of the most touted means is by upping the price. It's worked in some places, but let me tell you -- I was a stubborn teenager and I'm a stubborn adult. The cost isn't going to stop me. I'll do what I want until I don't want to anymore, babysitting money be damned.
I think the thing that really got me to stop smoking was the dramatic, TRAUMATIC anti-smoking advertising campaigns. These in your face true accounts of what smoking does to your body, your family, and others? Being constantly hit with that on TV, in magazines, and eventually on the packs I'd buy? That's finally what did it.
I also think that if my parents had been as strident about smoking as they had been about sex, alcohol, and drugs when I was growing up, that might have changed things. Like so many other dangers teens encounter, knowledge is everything. Discussing the dangers of smoking early and often at home could curtail a problem before it starts.
What do you say to your teenagers about smoking?