Young People Ask
What Should I Know About Smoking?
Look at the following options, and put a ✔ in the box beside each item that you feel describes you.
□ I’m curious
□ I’m dealing with stress
□ I want to fit in
□ I’m concerned about my weight
IF YOU checked any of the boxes, then you have something in common with your peers who smoke tobacco or have thought about it.* For example:
Satisfying curiosity. “I wondered what it was like, so I took a cigarette from a girl at school and then sneaked out and smoked it.”—Tracy.
Coping with stress and fitting in. “Kids at school would say, ‘I need a cigarette,’ and then afterward, ‘Phew, now I can cope!’ During stressful times, I wanted that.”—Nikki.
Losing weight. “Some girls smoke to stay thin—it’s so much easier than dieting!”—Samantha.
But before you light your first—or your next—cigarette, stop and think. Don’t be like a fish striking at a baited hook. True, the fish may get a small reward, but what a price it pays! Instead, follow the Bible’s advice, and use “your clear thinking faculties.” (2 Peter 3:1) Answer the following questions.
What Do You Really Know About Smoking?
Mark each statement true or false.
a. ․․․ Smoking reduces stress.
b. ․․․ I would exhale almost all of the smoke.
c. ․․․ Smoking won’t affect my health until I get older.
d. ․․․ Smoking will make me more attractive to the opposite sex.
e. ․․․ If I smoke, no one is hurt but me.
f. ․․․ It doesn’t matter to God whether I smoke or not.
a. Smoking reduces stress.—False. Although smoking temporarily relieves the stress of withdrawal symptoms, scientists have found that nicotine actually increases your level of stress hormones.
b. I would exhale almost all of the smoke.—False. Some studies indicate that over 80 percent of the cigarette smoke particles you inhale stay inside your body.
c. Smoking won’t affect my health until I get older.—False. While the risks increase with each cigarette you smoke, a few effects are immediate. Some people become addicted from just one cigarette. Your lung capacity will be reduced, and you’ll likely develop a persistent cough. Your skin will wrinkle more and prematurely. Smoking increases your risk of sexual dysfunction, panic attacks, and depression.
d. Smoking will make me more attractive to the opposite sex.—False. Researcher Lloyd Johnston found that teens who smoke are “less attractive to the great majority of the opposite sex.”
e. If I smoke, no one is hurt but me.—False. Secondhand smoke kills thousands each year; it will harm your family, your friends, and even your pets.
f. It doesn’t matter to God whether I smoke or not.—False. Those who want to please God must cleanse themselves of “every defilement of flesh.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) There is no doubt that smoking defiles the body. If you choose to be unclean, harming yourself and others by using tobacco, you cannot be a friend of God.—Matthew 22:39; Galatians 5:19-21.
How to Resist
So, what will you do if someone offers you a cigarette? A simple but firm response, such as “No thanks, I don’t smoke,” will often work. If the person persists or even taunts you, remember that it is your choice. You might say:
● “I checked out the risks and decided that it’s not for me.”
● “I have some important future plans that involve breathing.”
Like the youths quoted earlier in this article, though, you may find that the greatest pressure comes from inside yourself. If that’s the case, answer this ‘inner voice’ by reasoning on questions such as these:
● Will I really gain benefits by smoking? For instance, if I decide to smoke just to be accepted by others, will I somehow fit in despite having little else in common with them? Do I even want to fit in with people who would be happy to see me damage my own health?
● How much will smoking cost me in money, health problems, and loss of others’ respect?
● Would I be willing to sell out my friendship with God for the price of a cigarette?
What, though, if you’re already hooked? What can you do to break free?
How to Quit
2. Get help. If you’ve been smoking in secret, now is the time to come clean. Tell those you have been hiding your smoking from that you are quitting, and ask for their support. If you want to serve God, pray for his help.—1 John 5:14.
3. Set a quit date. Give yourself two weeks or less, and mark on your calendar the day you are determined to quit. Tell your family and friends that you are quitting on that date.
4. Search and destroy. Before you reach your quit date, scour your room, car, and clothing for any cigarettes. Destroy them. Get rid of lighters, matches, and ashtrays.
5. Deal with withdrawal symptoms. Drink plenty of fruit juice or water, and allow more time for sleep. Keep in mind that the discomfort is temporary, while the benefits are permanent!
6. Avoid triggers. Stay away from places and situations where you would be tempted to smoke. You may also need to cut off social contact with associates who are smokers.—Proverbs 13:20.
7. Avoid rationalizations. Don’t fool yourself by saying, “I’ll only take one puff.” Such rationalizations often lead to a full relapse.—Jeremiah 17:9.
Don’t Be Duped
Each year, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars on advertising. How can they not know that many youths will be lured by their bait and even become tomorrow’s addicted adults?
Don’t allow tobacco executives to get their hands into your pockets. Why take their bait? Neither that group nor your peers who smoke have your best interests at heart. Rather than listen to them, listen to the advice found in the Bible and learn “to benefit yourself.”—Isaiah 48:17.
More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
Although this article discusses those who smoke cigarettes, the problems and dangers that are highlighted also apply to those who chew tobacco.
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WHAT YOUR PEERS SAY
“If someone asked me why I don’t smoke, I’d say, ‘Because I don’t want to blacken my lungs and shorten my life span.’”
“If someone offered me a cigarette, I’d say, ‘No.’ If they tried to push me, I’d say, ‘Are you denying me my right to make a personal choice? That’s pretty shocking in this day and age!’”
[Box on page 28]
● DID YOU KNOW?
Smokeless tobacco—such as chewing tobacco—can deliver more nicotine than cigarettes and contains more than 25 cancer-causing compounds that increase the user’s risk of developing cancer of the throat and mouth.
[Box on page 28]
WHY NOT ASK YOUR PARENTS?
Coping with peer pressure is much easier when you are prepared. Why not ask your parents to have practice sessions with you so that you’ll be ready to reply if someone offers you a cigarette? Have a parent play the part of a pushy peer. Hint: Use the “Peer-Pressure Planner” on pages 132 and 133 of Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2, to get some good ideas on how to respond.
[Picture on page 28]
Like a fish striking at bait, a smoker gets a reward but pays a terrible price