Monday, September 5, 2011

Teen Smoking - Jason Gets an Earful from His Uncle

Jason and Uncle Earl were sitting on folding chairs in front of his uncle’s open garage door. They were cleaning and oiling tools.

“You don’t smoke, do you, Uncle Earl?”

“No, I don’t. I’ve never had one puff of a cigarette. Not once. I did smoke a pipe once, though. For a while. And I’ve puffed a few cigars. But I didn’t inhale. And I got high on marijuana once.”

“What was that like?”

“I didn’t like what it did to my brain. It screwed up my perception and made it hard to think straight. It took two days for the effects to wear off. Also, I later found out that using it regularly can damage your brain. Permanently. So I never tried it again, and I don’t plan to. Why do you ask?”

“Some of the guys at school offered me a cigarette.”

“Did you try it?”

“I said no thanks.”

“Good for you. Cigarettes are addictive. It’s amazingly easy to get hooked, and it’s amazingly hard to quit. I know people who’ve tried to quit several times and couldn’t do it. Smoking affects your lungs. It makes it harder to breathe. That’s why most athletes don’t smoke. It causes lung cancer and increases your chance for heart disease. Plus it’s nasty. Cigarette smoke clings to your clothes, your house, your car. People can smell you several feet away. It’s a crazy, disgusting habit.”

“Then why do people smoke?”

“I told you, they’re addicted.”

“But if it’s so bad for you, why did they start doing it?”

“Why do you think, Jason?”

“I guess they thought it’s cool to smoke.”

“That’s probably why your friends do it. Kids don’t think about the getting addicted part when they start smoking. Maybe they see adults smoking and figure it’s an adult thing to do. What do you think, Jason? Do you think smoking cigarettes makes your friends seem more like adults?”

“Most of the kids I know don’t smoke. But one of my friends asked if I wanted to try it.”

“Were you tempted?”

“I was curious. But I knew my parents would go ballistic if they caught me smoking. I knew you wouldn’t like it.”

“That’s right, Jason. I’d be pretty disappointed. It’s such a stupid thing to do. It’s like committing slow suicide. I knew a woman who died of lung cancer. She was fifteen years younger than I am. And expensive! Do you know how much it costs to support a cigarette habit?”


“If you smoke a pack a day, it adds up to over a thousand dollars a year. It’s not uncommon for a smoker to go through two packs a day. That would run you about three thousand dollars a year. You got that kind of money, Jason?”

"I wonder where my friend gets the money.”

“Who knows? Maybe he has a job. Maybe his parents give him the money. It’s crazy.”

“I’m never going to smoke.”

“That would be a good idea. If you’re going to get addicted to something, get addicted to exercise. Get addicted to travel. Get addicted to learning. A lot of people do. Get addicted to something that builds you up, not tears you down.”

This excerpt is taken from my book for teen boys, Conversations with the Wise Uncle.

A similar book for girls - Conversations with the Wise Aunt.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from

No comments: