Caring about the Next Generation
In spite of all the health warnings, teenagers continue to get hooked on tobacco even though they all know that it's bad for them. It is therefore logical to conclude that a shallow knowledge of the health risks is not enough to convince teenagers to not smoke. I have given this issue a lot of thought and feel like we are missing the real reasons and the real issues behind smoking, and therefore I'm going to try to break new ground on this issue in an attempt to save future generations from the cycle of nicotine addiction.
I'm going to first start off by giving you a lot of much more powerful reasons to not smoke that you've never heard before. These will be reasons that you can easily verify are true. This will help lay a new foundation of understanding. I will then talk about human nature and how you will be tempted to smoke even though it is very bad for you. I will talk about how people are herd animals and how nicotine is introduced into your tribe. I will also talk about how the tobacco industry uses sex to get you to smoke.
It is my sincere desire that teenagers, like yourself, will read this message and pass it around as much as possible and that it will cause you to stop smoking if it isn't to late for you, or to not start smoking. My generation (baby boomers, Vietnam, Rock n' Roll, Hippies, Bill Clinton) were made addicts by our parents generation (World War II, Bob Dole). As our parents generation scrolls off the top of the screen, my generation is now coming into power. And it is now our turn to take responsibility for sending a new message into the future so that some day that your children won't grow up in a Nicobrain world.
Why am I doing this Web Page?
Some of you have sent me email asking why am I doing this page. I am trying to persuade people who don't smoke to not get started. This web page isn't targeted at those who are already smokers. If you are already hooked, good luck. I don't know what to tell you because that is beyond the realm of my experience. This page also isn't about smokers rights vs. non-smokers rights or trying to make cigarettes illegal. I am not here to try to tell you what to do or to moralize at you. And I am definitely not part of a religious group. I am merely hoping that after reading this page that if you don't smoke, you won't start.
This web page is dedicated to the memory of Rebecca Carolan who died of lymph and lung cancer on June 6th 1989 at the age of 39. You are not forgotten.
Life as a Smoker
Everyone knows that "smoking is bad for you". You know that if you start smoking that 1/3 of you will eventually die from it. And for the most part, that's about all you know. Is this enough reason to not smoke? No, it's not, and here's why.
Teenagers are immortal. Teenagers live forever. At least that's the way it seemed when I was a teenager. People's perception of time is logarithmic and when your 18 a "half lifetime" is 9 years. Your parents are 2-3 half lifetimes older than you and your grandparents are 4-6 half lifetimes older than you and in your mind that is like eternity and beyond the scope of your imagination. Thus, in your mind, the health effect form smoking are so far off in the future that it's beyond the limits of your imagination. Besides, surely by then they will cure cancer, right?
People of my generation (I'm 43) have a half lifetime of 21 years. We are looking at best at one more half lifetime of having good sex and then a half lifetime of growing old and dying. We are past the age where it is obvious that smoking is a bad idea. For those of you who don't know it, if you don't smoke before you're 20 you won't start. By the time you get to 25 you have developed the mental skills to be able to resist the social pressures to start. That's my theory at least. But the facts are that people over 20 don't start smoking. Smokers come from teen smokers who can't quit.
However, there are a lot of other reasons to not smoke other than taking a chance with cancer and heart attacks. These reasons are actually a lot stronger and affect you a lot sooner and affect all smokers. And I want to talk with you now about these reasons to lay a logical foundation as to why you don't want to be a Nicobrain.
Once you are addicted you have to have it. There isn't any choice because it's compulsive. You will smoke. Resistance is futile. You don't want to smoke. You wish you could quit. You intend to quit someday, but not today. Today you will smoke. And every time you smoke you'll think back and wish you never started. Am I right? Talk to anyone who smokes. They will tell you themselves. Both smokers and non-smokers alike agree that a person who doesn't smoke shouldn't start.
When you get to smoking two packs a day your lifestyle will be greatly altered. You will find that no matter where you go the first thought will be, "Where do I have to go to smoke?" Every event in your life will be based around being in places where you are close enough to go somewhere to smoke. And if you are going somewhere where smoking isn't permitted, the issue will be how long you will have to go without smoking and if the event is good enough to give up smoking for that period of time.
Cigarettes are so addictive that you'll even smoke when your sick. You can be in be coughing your head off and so sick you can barely get out of bed, and you'll still get up, put on a jacket, and go out on the front porch in the middle of winter to smoke one. If you wake up in the middle of the night needing a cigarette and you don't have one, you'll put on some clothes and drive to the nearest open store at 3:00 in the morning to get a pack. During the war in Bosnia smokers were so addicted that they would trade food for cigarettes even though they were starving. Do you want "gotta have a cigarette" to be part of your life? Before you start smoking you should consider if you want to spend your life addicted.
Life is short. It's may seem like forever when you're young, but it's just a blip and then your gone. During your life you will experience a lot of things and who you are and what you think about is what defines you as a person. You are what you think and what you do. Imagine if you will that at the end of your life that your thoughts are downloaded and put into a great database and sorted by category of thought and added up by time spent thinking about it. If you are a smoker, you will find that the number one activity in your life was either smoking or thinking about smoking. If you are a non-smoker you number one activity is getting laid or thinking about getting laid. When choosing between cigarettes and sex, I'll take sex.
When a smoker smokes, the cigarette smoke fills the room. Everyone has to breathe it. And to a non-smoker, it stinks. There can be a room with 200 people and if just one person smokes it changes everything. You are now in a smokey room. The smell goes everywhere and gets into everything. Even after the smoker leaves, his smell is still there. It also gets into my clothes and my hair. If I'm in a room with smokers, I have to go home and change clothes and take a bath to get rid of the smell. Sometimes I have to put my clothes outside so as not to stink up the house.
Thus, non-smokers don't like being around smokers. And it's not like smokers don't care. But smokers have to smoke and they will smoke. So non-smokers have to deal with it around them and let them go outside and throw cigarette butts all over your yard. And even if you have a smoker over and they don't smoke you can still hear their troughs. You look in their eyes and they're thinking, "Please, please, please, just let me smoke one cigarette, please, please, please."
Getting you Hooked
The tobacco industry wants your soul. In order for big tobacco to keep making the big bucks, they need to get you hooked while you are still young. Their own studies have shown that the earlier you get a kid addicted, the deeper the addiction. They need to get nicotine into your brain chemistry while your brain is still forming so that you will develop what I call the Nicobrain. A mind that is addicted so strongly that it alters your thought patterns to accommodate keeping you addicted.
Teenagers can be compared to young birds that are most vulnerable just about the time they are about to leave the nest. They are too old and mobile for the mother to keep protecting them, but to inexperienced to avoid those who would prey on them. In today's society there are those who prey on human young. And among the worst is the tobacco industry.
These people have spent millions of dollars in research money studying teenagers like rats in a cage to determine what kind of stimulus will make them want to smoke. And they have succeeded. That is why so many teenagers smoke today and they don't even know why they started. Do you think you might be being manipulated by the tobacco industry? Probably not. But that's what they want you to think.
A lot of people say that they started smoking to "be kool". But did you ever wonder what it is about smoking that's kool? When you think about it, smoking is not kool. So why do we think it is? Because big tobacco is making sure that teenagers believe smoking is kool. Sex is kool, and sex is very adult. In fact, that's what really separates kids from adults is that adults have sex and eventually babies and that's what makes the adult. Teenagers want to be adults. They can't wait. Therefore, if smoking is linked to sex then smoking becomes an adult thing and that's how they get ya. They make you feel adult so that you will be their customer for life.
In order for humans to be a tribe we have learned to synchronize behavior so as to act as if we share a common mind and intent. We have a biological advantage to being alike. We act from a common mind and established behavior pattern. And that behavior pattern can be best described as what the tribe considers to be "kool". For those of you who were wondering what kool really was, now you know.
Big tobacco understands this. They spend millions of dollars every year studying teenagers and learning ways to manipulate you using your tribal and sexual instincts to get you to smoke cigarettes. So what big tobacco does is to make smoking the tribal norm. They put their messages everywhere. Give you Marlboro and Camel clothes, make sure that both the hero's and the villains in movies smoke. R. J. Reynolds bought the "Weekly Reader" magazine you get in grade school so that they can start getting their message to you as early as possible. They make sure that you know that smoking is kool, and if you don't smoke, you're not kool, and you're not going to get laid.
Have you seen the movie "In dependance Day"? Pretty good movie I think. However, watch the movie again and you'll see something different. The movie is an ad for cigars. Every significant event in that movie is celebrated by smoking a cigar. The tobacco companies paid the producers of that movie a lot of money to get those cigar scenes in there to make sure that kids will start smoking cigars. You watch that movie again and tell me that the whole movie isn't a cigar ad. Since that movie came out cigar smoking among teens has risen significantly.
One mistake that parents make is that they don't teach their children how to make good choices. They just "tell them what to do" and expect them to learn the pattern. But they don't let the kids make their own choices and feel the consequences of their own mistakes. This invites rebellion, actually forcing teens to be rebellious as the only way to develop their own reasoning skills. And you can't rebel unless you defy your authority figures. So since the authority figures are usually right on the issues, to rebel is to be forced to make a lot of wrong choices.
You as a teenager need to rise above your parental failures. Although smoking is an act of rebellion, there are plenty of other ways to rebel that don't involve becoming an addict. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own mistakes. You will have to live with the consequences of the choices you make. It ain't no skin off my butt if you mess up.
I wish it were easy to talk teenagers into not smoking. Many of you who read this will understand it and agree with me, but you will still go out and smoke. That's because you'll be with your friends and some of them will be like tribal leaders and they will smoke. Then when they smoke others in the group will smoke, and then someone will hand you a cigarette and you are expected to smoke it.
When this moment happens you will find it easier to smoke that to go to the effort to not smoke. If you don't smoke you will have to say why you don't smoke and you are likely to piss off those who are already addicted. As a youngster you may have never been taught the art of saying NO.
The word NO is the most important word for a teenager to know well. When other want you to do things you don't want to do you need to learn to say NO to them and to be strong enough that they have to back down and accept NO for an answer. If you can't say NO when they say "Aw Com'mon" you end up doing a lot of things you don't want to do.
As you get older you learn a lot of things you don't know when you're just a kid. People will always try to sucker you into things that aren't in your best interests. As a youngster you are more trusting and more foolish that people who are older and more experienced. In other words, kids like you are easier to sucker.
I know a lot of you don't like the idea that I think you're easy to sucker. You tend to think you know a lot more than you really do. It better though to be aware that there are people out there that want to take advantage of you and are very good at getting you to do what they want. If you know this then hopefully you will be more careful about the decisions to make.
To grow up is not only about making your own choices, but to take responsibility for the choices you make. What you do affects who you become and if you make bad choices, you will get bad results. You are at an age where the choices you make will affect the rest of your life. If you screw up it is you who are screwing up. You are faced with a great many things. Do I smoke? When do I have sex? What if I get pregnant? What do I want to be? What do I believe in? Who do I trust? What drugs should I try? Who will I marry? Do I want kids? Do I want to go to college? These are important decisions and if you realize that if you make wrong choice that you will have to live with the results, it is my hope that you will choose more carefully.
So, what do you think? I'd like to get your comments and suggestions about this web page. Talk to me about what you think about smoking and the issues I've raised. I want to know if you found my argument to be interesting. Did I talk you out of smoking? Which points did you find most persuasive?
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