Teens and Smoking: Why?

On the way back from dropping my son off at school this morning, I pulled up alongside an older Volvo
at a stop light. I smiled when I saw two girls, about 17 years old, in
the car, thinking that the driver's parents had probably made darned
sure she was driving a safe car.

They were so young and beautiful. Smiling, chatting, downing their Starbucks coffee drinks. Then, almost in unison, they both stuck their hands out the car window and flicked ashes from a cigarette.

My heart sank.

My mother in law, Pat, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when my son, Matt, was just in first grade. A lifelong smoker, she tried many times to quit. But the habit, which she picked up in college, was too tough for her to give up. I remember her telling all this to Matt and then telling him to NEVER start smoking. To this day, he still talks about that conversation with his grandmother.

This morning, I wanted to get out of my car and go tell all of this to those girls. Those lovely, healthy young women with beautiful skin, bright eyes and (I hoped) still-healthy lungs and hearts.

I didn't, of course. The light turned green. We went our separate ways. And I don't expect those two girls to be seeking out a parenting blog… Until they are parents themselves, of course. When they're addicted to smoking and worried like hell that the second-hand smoke, and the example they're setting, might be hurting their kids. When they're looking up articles on Google about how to quit smoking or how to make sure their own kids never smoke.

How much easier it would be for today's teens to not pick up that first cigarette. Or to quit now, after a few months of smoking, rather than having to stare down that nicotine beast after a decade or more of damage.

If you're a parent who is smelling cigarette smoke on your kid's clothes when then come home, please show them this post. You may not be the parent of those two particular girls. But then again, there might be an older, gold-colored Volvo sitting in your driveway right now.

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2 Responses to “Teens and Smoking: Why?”

  1. Abby Dad says:

    My grandmother died of complications due to smoking and I’ve always been thankful my father stopped smoking (cold turkey, too) when I was about 12 years old. His father died at 53 of heart disease and my Dad has since outlived any male in his family due to that major change in his life, along with better habits in exercise and eating. I have never smoked so I hope my one year old daughter will have me around for a long time to come.
    My heart sinks, too, whenever I see a young teen smoking. I always wish they would ‘snap’ out of it on their own rather than experience the loss of a loved one to do so…

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