Level 16 - Colossus
Teen Smoking Teen smoking. Those two words mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. To some it means nothing. They are just two meaningless words found under T and S in the dictionary. To others it is as if these words symbolize some sort of treason or crime against society. Yet to others it is just another stereotype to be placed under. And to some it is a salvation. An escape. Unfortunately I am writing this paper so you will get my positions on teen smoking rather than other peoples. Teen smoking gathers a lot of emotions when I think about it. It makes me very angry sometimes. My first draft of this was good but I saw myself getting angry and lashing out on everyone, so I revised it. But enough of that, I find teen smoking to be a very controversial subject. To be completely honest with you I am smoking right now as I am writing this. Obviously I am a smoker. I am 17 years old and I am a smoker. In the late 1990’s, the statistics showed that approximately 25% of teens smoke. That’s one out of every four teenagers. High school is a tough time for teens. These years are critical to a teens future. This explains why a vast majority of smokers start at 16 years or younger with the most common age being 14 years old(freshman). It has also been proven also that teens who score lower in school smoke more than higher scoring students do. It seems that everyone smokes in our school. Our school is overrun with smokers. It is right now at least 50% smokers and 65% if you count the people who will smoke before their high school career is up. We practically encourage it. I mean Fireman’s Field practically condones teen smoking. Teen smoking is defiantly a problem in our school, as well as schools all over the United States. I feel that teen smoking is a huge problem. I feel that too many teenagers smoke cigarettes. It is something that needs to get dealt with. But before I get into that I should probably start with the causes of teen smoking. There are several factors that start teens on smoking cigarettes. There has to be considering that over 1 million new teenagers will start smoking annually. The most common is peer pressure. For any of you who have never heard these words before, I will define peer pressure. Peer pressure is when your peers influence you to do something. Many people comply with peer pressure because they want to impress their friends or they want everyone to think their cool or maybe its just fear of being rejection. Another reason people start is because they get off on the shock. I have a friend who was always 100% straight edge. He never touched anything bad/illegal. At some party he decided to try a cigarette because he thought it would be funny to smoke in front of all these people who know him as a straight edge. Everyone was like “Ha Ha. Look at him, Look at Mr. Straight Edge smoke.” Well, That was is right there at every party he’d smoke a cigarette and everyone would laugh and be amused. He loved it. All this attention was great to him. Poor kid smokes a pack a day now. Another reason kids may start smoking is their parents. Parents who smoke are much more likely to have their child smoke. A child who is around it all the time and seeing you parents smoke sets a bad example. Parents are supposed to be role models for their children. These kids generally start smoking younger and tend to be the first children to smoke. Then out of fear of rejection of whatever they use peer pressure to get others to start smoking who in turn get others to start smoking etc… Another reason people start smoking is shear curiosity. This is how I got started. I was always the curious type. The one who would pick up a rock to inspect what was under it without fearing a snake or bug. A large majority of my friends smoke. I would always be with them when they were smoking and I would always hang out with them. One day we were playing hackey sack outside and “Yo, Can I get a cigarette just popped out.” I really wanted to try one. For 3 years my friends smoked while I just hung out. Curiosity got the best of me. My first time the cigarette just flowed. No coughing or choking. And the feeling. Ohhhhhhhh the feeling. Simply marvelous. I felt like I was reenergized. I loved the way if flowed and the way it felt. There are other causes that start teens on smoking but most of them are individual circumstances applicable to only one or two people around the nation. Some, ignorant, people ask, “Why is teen smoking a problem?” For those people who have been living in a hole for the past 25 years, I’ll explain it. Tobacco kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fires and AIDS combined. Smoking is the number one cause of almost every type of cancer including but not exclusive to lung cancer and throat cancer. It also leads to other lung problems such as emphysema. In addition, smoking has been proven to affect people’s blood and blood pressure making people more prone to heart disease and heart attacks. The diseases and problems associated with smoking all take years to develop. Therefore the earlier a person starts smoking; theoretically the earlier they will become ill with smoking related diseases. A person who starts smoking in their teens can be diagnosed with cancer in their 30’s but it usually doesn’t affect them until they are 40-60. More than 434,000 people die each year from tobacco related illnesses, making it the single most preventable cause of death in the U.S. In Florida alone, more than 28,000 deaths annually (23% of total deaths) are tobacco related. Still not convinced on why stay away from smoking? Well besides the fact that it can kill you, as mentioned above, it is just gross. It stains your teeth yellow. It makes you, your clothes, your car, and your home all smell like cigarettes. Also, it bothers non-smokers. People who don’t smoke shouldn’t have to inhale your smoke, although when I didn’t smoke the smell never bothered me. Any smoke that is emitted by a cigarette that is not inhaled goes into the air. Once these toxins are in the air, they are free to corrupt non-smoker lungs too. Second hand smoke it is called. Second hand smoke causes non-smokers to get the same smoking related diseases and cancers as smokers. That’s just wrong. My habit and the habits of other smokers are actually harming and killing innocent people. That is a wrong done to everyone involved. Also nicotine is widely considered one of the most addictive drugs. It is all but impossible to quit. Some people do quit but not an overwhelming majority. Here is another statistic. Over 95% of daily smoking high schools seniors think they will have quit smoking within five years, but follow-up studies show that 73% of daily smoking high school seniors were still daily smokers 8 years later. I found that most of the books I checked out really didn’t help me accept for some statistics. I already knew this stuff. I am very informed on smoking and the dangers of it. Also my grandfather passed away with lung cancer about a year and a half ago. What can be done about teen smoking? I have formulated, actually I would be lying to say I thought of these first, a few ways to deal with teen smoking. The first way would be the easiest way. Do nothing about it. The government just backs off and lets it be. “Let them smoke if they want.” This would be the easiest way but defiantly not the best way. Smokers would begin to run rampant. All these statistics would sky rocket. Prices would drop as more smokers started and lower prices would attract new smokers. All this smoke would just mean more pollution and death. Some people figure the “mystique” gone, after everyone does it, it will lose its power. Unfortunately, it is addictive, so as new generations try cigarettes the older generations continue to smoke. Outlawing cigarettes is also an option. Once again, this may not be the best way. Smoking would just go underground much like liquor during the 20’s. A new prohibition period will have started. Now cigarettes become more “mystique”. Prices shoot up causing the new cigarette dealers to prosper. And since cigarettes are addictive, the black market could get away with charging these new insanely high prices. Another way to deal with this would be take precautions, heighten standards, and stricken laws. This, in my opinion, would be the best solution. It would be the most effective which is bad news for your average teen smoker. Raising prices, increasing the fines for underage sales, and double-checking every I.D. would work as long as they are ENFORCED. If they are enforced you will notice teen smoking will decrease. Also encouraging parents, teachers, priests, and all other influential figures to enlighten kids on the facts and dangers of smoking at young ages would also decrease teen smoking. The key there is to enforce and reinforce the dangers to kids from the time they are 6 until they are 18. Parents who tell their kids not to smoke once when their kids are 10 are more likely to have smoking children then the parents who constantly talk to their child. In conclusion, I state that I am against teen smoking. Even though I am a teen smoker. It would be impossible to keep all teens from smoking but it is defiantly possible to greatly lower the number of teens who smoke. It just takes a little effort. On everybody’s part from the president, to the governor, to teachers, to parents, and even the teens themselves. A little effort, a little trial and error, and some time and you will notice teen smoking will no longer be the problem it once was.
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