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 on page 237, 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 will reduce my stress.
□ True □ False
b. I would exhale almost all of the smoke.
□ True □ False
c. Smoking won’t affect my health until I get older.
□ True □ False
d. Smoking will make me more attractive to the opposite sex.
□ True □ False
e. If I smoke, no one is hurt but me.
□ True □ False
f. It doesn’t matter to God whether I smoke or not.
□ True □ False
a. False. Although smoking temporarily relieves the stress of withdrawal symptoms, scientists have found that nicotine actually increases the level of stress hormones.
b. False. Some studies indicate that over 80 percent of the cigarette smoke particles you inhale stay inside your body.
c. 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. False. Researcher Lloyd Johnston found that teens who smoke are “less attractive to the great majority of the opposite sex.”
e. False. Secondhand smoke kills thousands each year; it will harm your family, your friends, and even your pets.
f. 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.”
● “Are you denying my right to make a personal choice?”
Like the youths quoted earlier in this chapter, 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 from 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 yourself more time for sleep. Keep in mind that the discomfort is temporary, while the benefits are permanent!
6. Avoid triggers. Stay away from situations and places where you would be tempted to smoke. You may also need to cut off social contact with associates who are smokers.—Proverbs 13:20.
Don’t Be Duped
Each year, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars on advertising. Whom do they particularly target? An internal tobacco company document states: “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.”
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.
Do your friends pressure you to drink alcohol? Learn why you need to know your limits.
Although this chapter discusses those who smoke cigarettes, the problems and dangers that are highlighted also apply to those who chew tobacco.
“Stay away from everything that keeps our bodies . . . from being clean.”—2 Corinthians 7:1, Contemporary English Version.
Avoid rationalizations, such as thinking, ‘I’ll only take one puff.’ They often lead to a full relapse.—Jeremiah 17:9.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Smokeless tobacco—such as chewing tobacco—can deliver more nicotine than cigarettes and contains some 25 cancer-causing toxins that increase the user’s risk of developing cancer of the throat and mouth.
If a schoolmate pressures me to smoke, I will ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Even though you know the dangers, why might you still be tempted to smoke?
● What has convinced you that smoking is a bad idea?
[Blurb on page 240]
“When I’m offered a smoke, I just smile and say, ‘No thanks, I don’t want to get cancer.’”—Alana
[Box/Picture on page 241]
Is Marijuana Really That Bad?
“Some say that using marijuana is a way to escape problems,” says Ellen, who lives in Ireland, “and that it doesn’t have any bad side effects.” Have you heard similar statements about marijuana? Compare some common myths with the facts.
Myth. Marijuana is not harmful.
Fact. Known or suspected lasting effects of marijuana are as follows: damaged memory, impaired ability to learn, and suppressed immune system, as well as damage to the sexual health of both males and females. It can induce anxiety attacks, psychoses, and paranoia. Children born to women who smoke marijuana are more likely to have behavioral problems, be less attentive, and have greater difficulty making decisions.
Myth. Marijuana smoke is less harmful than cigarette smoke.
Fact. Compared with tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke can deposit four times as much tar on your airways and carry five times as much poisonous carbon monoxide into your blood. Smoking five marijuana joints can deliver the same amount of cancer-causing toxins as an entire pack of cigarettes.
Myth. Marijuana is not addictive.
Fact. Teens who have mental or emotional problems can quickly become addicted to marijuana. Others can become addicted after long-term use. In addition, studies show that teens who smoke marijuana have a much greater risk of using other addictive drugs, such as cocaine.
[Box/Pictures on pages 244, 245]
What Tobacco Does to Your Body
Look at the healthy people portrayed in cigarette ads; then compare those images with what smoking actually does to your body.
Mouth and throat Can cause cancer
Heart Hardens and narrows arteries, starves the heart of oxygen, and increases the risk of heart disease by up to four times
Lungs Destroys air sacs, inflames airways, and increases the risk of developing lung cancer by up to 23 times
Brain Increases the risk of stroke by up to four times
Skin Can cause premature aging
Teeth Causes discoloration
Stomach Causes cancer
Pancreas Causes cancer
Bladder Causes cancer
Kidneys Causes cancer
[Picture on page 239]
Like a fish striking at bait, a smoker gets a reward but pays a terrible price