Teens Self Help

A medium to express myself and talk about my feelings, hoping to inspire you... "Believe in yourself, in the power you have to control your own life day by day. Believe in the strength that you have deep inside and your faith will help show you the way. Believe in tomorrow and what it will bring. For things will work out if you trust and believe there is no limit to what you can do!" (Larry S. Chengges)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Puffing Away

I know it's hard for non-smokers to understand how addictive cigarettes can be, and how satisfying it is for smokers. I'm a non-smoker. I know that smokers feel urgent needs and cravings to smoke cigarettes, since nicotine is so highly addictive. I know cigarettes are stimulants and some people even consider them a calming force. Like any other drug (once the user is "addicted") cigarettes become a necessity. Smokers cannot live without them and it's extremely hard to quit - cigarettes end up literally controlling their lives. They're certainly not the ones in control!

I know there are many studies proving the toxicity of cigarettes (just like the dangers of drugs). Smoking is definitely hazardous to your health, and the dangers of smoking are serious. More than 400,000 people die every year in the US due to cigarette-related diseases. They have also estimated that more than 4 million Americans smoke. A smoker inhales a substance containing 43 cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds, besides four hundred other toxins including nicotine and tar. Nicotine is highly addictive. Tar clogs the lungs and inhibits the body's capacity to breathe; it causes lung and throat cancer, heart disease, emphysema, bronchial and lung disorders.

Many states are banning smoking in public places; and I feel this is only fair for non-smokers, since it's been proven that second-hand smoke is very damaging. But despite all the findings and all the advertisements confirming the dangers of "smoking", many people, especially young people, are still choosing to smoke. I know, someone might say: "it is their choice, live and let live..." and in many ways I agree with this; but I also feel that we have the responsibility, as parents, teachers, friends, aunts and uncles, to give our children and others a good example. Besides, we have to learn to be strong and not allow the cigarette companies to brain-wash us. Have you seen some of the advertisements lately? They show very healthy-looking happy young people, in great physical shape and with perfectly clean teeth, smoking. Who are they kidding? I guess many fools...

I assume that some see it as a way to be like the REST, to be accepted, to be cool... Maybe they like to be "copycats". Others have an "addictive" personality and this is the addiction they picked (basically). They are too weak to say NO to cigarettes (like some are too weak to say NO to drugs, or NO to alcohol). The sad thing is that when teens start smoking, their health is affected negatively right away. The ingredients and additives in cigarettes when burned, create toxic, harmful chemical compounds; there are over 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, more than 40 of them are known carcinogens - and I also understand that they are even more addictive now compared to 20 or so years ago.

The lungs of teenagers aren't fully developed yet, and smoking will certainly damage them. And yet, despite all this information - which is available everywhere - many teens still choose to smoke. Why? I ask myself this question many times. Some people would say they're just plain STUPID! Others may say for teens becoming an adult means to be "free" to do "whatever I want" (like smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and embracing destructive behaviors). Maybe they're right in many ways, but in my opinion they're mostly weak, sensitive and have a low self-esteem. They don't know how to respect themselves and their bodies! Also, they don't have a strong support system and it's easy to fall for it. Maybe many of their friends smoke and they feel the pressure to do it too. Maybe their own parents smoke, so they're just following their example (and since they've been inhaling the smoke of their parent's cigarettes for so long they have the uncontrollable need to smoke too). They are many reasons, I'm sure... and since cigarettes are highly addictive, like I said before, once you start smoking (for whatever reason) the chances are you'll have an extremely hard time trying to quit.

The sad thing is that a great number of students (in elementary schools, high schools and colleges) are lighting up every day. Many are very addicted already and sadly they are spending a great deal of money buying these cigarettes (what a waste!) It is really sad... and I don't even want to mention here the many other highly addictive substances and drugs that teens and adults are using and experimenting with just to get "high" - how sad! The cigarette companies want you to smoke, the liquor companies want you to drink, the drug cartels and drug dealers want you to do drugs - stop making them rich! Think about your health, your loved ones, and your future! Think about the pain you're inflicting on your loved ones and stop being so selfish!

I can only hope that more places, including private colleges, start creating more smoke-free zones and that more teens and other smokers realize how dangerous and stupid it really is to smoke. Your life and your health should be your top priorities, please don't choose to smoke! Be strong and don't smoke! When you think about it, it is really STUPID to do it!

Good news: very recently Pennsylvania's state-owned universities banned smoking anywhere on campus, including outdoors - action that has sparked protests by some of the 110,000 students in the State System of Higher Education. More than 130 colleges and universities across the country already have such policies.

Check: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/tips/smoking.html