A Different Reason Kids Might Not Want To Smoke
I think that by now most kids and adults have been hit over the head with so many health reasons not to smoke that they might even be doing studies on how anti-smoking studies could be harming your health. But if I had children, or were to be talking to young people about smoking I think I would take a very different direction. Sadly it probably would not work for any who are already smoking with any regularity.
It has to do with choice.
I think that many young people are very sensitive when it comes to what choices they have in their lives and what limitations they have placed on them. In fact I believe that many young people might take those first puffs -- if not out of pure experimentation - do so for a large part in a form of rebellion. Smoking is not something that will kill them outright, but is a bit dangerous and probably would get them in trouble with their parents if caught to one extent or another. Perhaps they might consider it safer than drinking or doing other recreational drugs, or doing some other dangerous activity and they can always stop -- right?
That is where my own personal discussion on why not to smoke comes in. I know far too many people -- smart people, strong people, people with great will power, people who have accomplished great things -- who can not break their dance with this smoky dragon. That goes for people who are trying to quite after a few years of smoking in their teens or twenties or a decade in their twenties or thirties or after decades. That is whether they have health reason to quit or a reason like a religious one or simply wanting to go out with people who are non-smokers who simply do not like to get too close to someone who smells of tobacco smoke.
With all of these people who are finding it nearly impossible to quit smoking that there is a huge industry in patches, gums, acupuncture, and hypnosis "stop smoking" systems, I figure it is not just so simple as saying "I'm going to quit and I just need a little will power."
I figure that if I were talking to a young person I would ask, if all these people are having such big problems, and if smoking really is no big deal to you, then why risk becoming hooked to something that might trap you into a habit you'll be stuck with for the rest of your life?
I watch people dutifully go out once an hour at work for a few puffs, I'll see them dress up to go out into freezing and soaking weather, I'll see them "needing" to go out first thing when they get up in the morning and last thing when they go to bed. They are hooked.
They all had to start somewhere, some time. Perhaps one puff doesn't turn you into a chain smoker, nor one cigarette, nor a pack. I don't know when or where it happens -- the thing is I don't think that any smoker really does and I do not think any young person does either who hasn't smoked and I ask, "Is it worth getting chained to a life long habit?"
Now I don't have any children and don't really speak in front of any as a speaker, but that is the argument I would give. They all know the score as much as it will have sunk in about the health issues.
Now there are some studies showing that indeed teens do greatly overestimate their ability to quit smoking -- so it isn't just my own anecdotal observation on this.
I have this quote of epidemiologist, Jennifer O'Loughlin talking about teens' ability to quit smoking after even having smoked a short while:
. . .
Many made a first serious attempt to quit after 2 1/2 month of sporadic smoking - and most failed.
"And by the time they've have smoked for 21 months they have lost confidence in their ability to quit," O'Loughlin said. "As soon as they experience craving, the story is over."
Despite early and increasing difficulty in quitting, it took about three years for the smokers to realize that they could not quit smoking of their own free will.
. . .
©Montreal Gazette 2008
Quotation from Canwest News Service - published July 16, 2008 "Teen smokers can't quit: study" author not cited
Now of course, if not smoking, what other form might this mild form of rebellion take?