Eyes watering, throat and lungs burning, upset stomach and a cough that brings you to your knees.
Do you remember what it was like to smoke your first cigarette? I would imagine that most people don’t unless they think about it really hard. Over the years smoking has become a best friend to many, helping them in tough times, keeping them thin, and giving them something to do. But if you can step into the “way back machine” you might remember things a bit differently.
You and your friends are huddled around; laughing, having fun, and contemplating what to do next when someone pulls out a pack of cigarettes. Not wanting to feel like a dork or a wuss you agree to try one. With a flick of the lighter, the spark ignites into a flame, you hold it to the cigarette as the paper and tobacco crackle and smoke. It feels unnatural holding the cigarette between your lips but you continue and with your first inhale you encounter an awful taste, your throat and lungs begin to burn as you cough uncontrollably from the poisons entering your body, your eyes water and burn, and you begin to feel queasy and lightheaded… this is the wonderful feeling of your first puff from a cigarette.
Each day in the United States, approximately 3,450 young people between 12 and 17 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 850 youth become daily cigarette smokers.
It does not take long for a person to become addicted to nicotine and once that happens they are faced with another uncomfortable situation – avoiding nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Everyday a person experiences nicotine withdrawal as it works it way through the body and everyday the smoker has to smoke in order to feel normal. If not then they start to go through withdrawals and as your dependence increases so does the number of cigarettes you have to smoke.
With the pain of starting to smoke and the discomfort of managing nicotine cravings it is a mystery why people start smoking, nevertheless, they do.
10 Reasons Young Teens Start Smoking
- Low socioeconomic status
- Use and approval of tobacco use by peers or siblings
- Lack of skills to resist influences to tobacco use
- Smoking by parents or guardians and/or lack of parental support or involvement
- Accessibility, availability, and price of tobacco products
- A perception that tobacco use is the norm
- Low levels of academic achievement
- Low self-image or self-esteem
- Aggressive behavior (e.g., fighting)
- To be cool
Smoking in the United States
Over the years there has been a large push on education and quitting smoking cessation programs. In 1965 over 40 percent of the population smoked; now it is half that. However, that still means that over 46 million people smoke and the people keeping the trend going are our youth.
They don’t understand that smoking is responsible for over 443,000 deaths each year and thousands of them are from exposure to secondhand smoke. 8.6 million people suffer from serious illnesses associated with smoking. When you smoke you damage nearly every organ in the human body and on average for each cigarette you smoke you knock 11 minutes off your life.
If you are a smoker the odds are against you, eventually it will catch up to you and you will die prematurely. Saying, “it won’t happen to you” won’t work because it very well could happen to you and before you know it the quality of your life stinks because of the health effects of smoking. The earlier you start the harder it is to quit and the longer you smoke the more damage you do. There is no safe level of exposure to the poisons and toxins of tobacco smoke.
Do yourself, your loved ones, and society a favor and quit smoking. Today is the day you turn your life around and take back control.