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Not Smoking - A Choice for Teens

Why shouldn't I smoke?

You've seen the slick cigarette ads in magazines and on billboards. They show beautiful people participating in all kinds of fun activities while they smoke. The message seems to be, "If you smoke cigarettes, you can be as cool as we are."

Cigarette manufacturers have to tell lies like this in order to get people to buy their products. People surely wouldn't buy cigarettes if the ads told the truth about smoking. The truth is...

  • Smoking is unattractive. Smoking stains your fingers and teeth and creates wrinkles on your face. Smoking also stinks, literally! It leaves a stale smell on your breath, hair, and clothes. If you've ever spent time in a car or a restaurant where people are smoking, you know that the smell sticks with you long after you leave.

  • Smoking is bad for your health. The chemicals in cigarette smoke make you cough and they make it hard for you to participate in athletic activities. In the long run, smoking can actually kill you. It's a leading cause of heart disease, cancer and lung problems.

  • Smoking harms others. Think of how you feel when you're around a person who smokes. Your eyes, nose, and throat burn, your heart beats faster, and you get a headache. Secondhand smoke not only makes non-smokers uncomfortable, it also kills over 50,000 of them each year. It is especially harmful to pregnant women and newborn or unborn babies.

  • Smoking is expensive. People who smoke a pack a day spend over $1500 a year on cigarettes. Think of how many CDs you could buy with that kind of money! If you smoke, you also have to worry about replacing the clothes and furniture that you burn with your cigarettes.

What if others are pressuring me to smoke?

Sometimes people try to influence the way you behave or think. If you are being pressured into doing something, think before you act. Think about the things that are important to you (your values), and then decide if the behavior that you're being pressured into fits with those values.

Do you value your appearance, your health, being able to play sports, having extra money to spend, and not hurting others? If so, smoking doesn't fit with your values. Choose to remain smoke-free.

Once you've made your decision, let others know. If somebody offers you a cigarette, look the person in the eyes, and in a firm, clear voice, simply say, "No thanks. I'm not interested."

What if I do start smoking?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to quit. But the longer you continue to smoke, the harder it is to stop. That's because nicotine, a chemical in cigarettes, is addictive. Your body starts to crave cigarettes and feels sick without them.

If you try to quit and don't succeed, try again. Many smokers have to try more than once, and try more than one method before they are able to quit for good. It's hard work, but you can do it! Ask your friends and family for their support, and be sure to ask your doctor for support and medical advice.

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