Nobody really knows what makes a teen (or younger child) take a cigarette and light it for the first time. Maybe it is peer-pressure; all your friends are smoking and you don’t want to be the only one of the group who isn’t. Or the actor in the movie just looked so cool and tough when he blew out the smoke, his head surrounded in a cloud, then flicked the burning stump into the air. One day you decide you are an “adult” now, no one is going to tell you what to do, and that includes smoking. Nobody really knows what makes someone light up, but some things remain the same.
It will be memorable when you light up for the first time. The first draw of the smoke will burn your tongue and nose, and the back of your throat will feel raw, like a sore throat. You will probably squint because the smoke will also burn your eyes. But you will get used to the burning sensation, and over time your eyes will develop more wrinkles from all that squinting. You will probably cough too, but it’s normal. Smokers are known for their “smoker’s cough.” It’s the phlegm your lungs are trying to bring up after being irritated from all that smoke. After you have smoked for several years you will probably have a chronic cough, sort of like the cough you get when you have a bad cold or bronchitis. Smokers also get sick more often because all that extra phlegm is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. If you make the decision to smoke, you have to also put up with all “extras” that come with that decision.
People will notice the smell, and many will be turned off by it. It sticks to your hair and clothes and just screams “smoker.” If people get close enough to you they will probably notice the tiny burn holes from the lighted ash falling unnoticed by you on your clothing. Just make sure not to wear any of your favorite clothes when you smoke. If you are driving your parent’s car, opening the window and hanging the lighted cigarette out the window won’t stop the smell from invading the interior of the car. If your parents don’t notice the smell, they are sure to notice the burn marks from the cigarette. It’s okay because if you have money to spend on cigarettes, you have the money to spend on replacing your burned clothing. It might be more difficult to fix the burn marks in the car. It’s a small price to pay to do something that makes you look cool.
People who smoke tend to get persistent bad breath, gum disease and stained teeth. In some cases smokers have gotten black, hairy tongue. If you want to keep smoking carry some mints, a toothbrush, some antiseptic to gargle with, and have your teeth whitened often. None of that will help with the gum disease, and all the trips to the dentist are costly. But that won’t matter because all your friends smoke too, so no one will really notice your yellow smile.
The tobacco companies know what it takes to make you want to use their product. They advertise your freedom to smoke, but then you become dependent on nicotine. They tell you how cool you will look if you smoke, but neglect to tell you smoking will ruin your looks and destroy your health. Sometimes the decisions about what is best for you are difficult. This really isn’t one of those decisions, because smoking has no positive outcomes.
Students need the truth about tobacco in order to make informed decisions about using a harmful product, and educators can learn how to help their students make good decisions through the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention course. This online course is available 24/7 and is offered at no cost to Florida public and private school educators. After completion of the content portion of the course, educators teach six (6) lessons to their students in order to earn up to 60 in-service credits towards re-certification of their DOE license. Click on the above link for more information.