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Diving Into a Pool of Tobacco

No one used to think anything of smoking, and in fact, it was pushed upon us during the 1800’s. It was being heavily promoted as it became issued along with rations of food and drinks. In 1917 the U.S. War Department sent huge amounts of cigarettes to World War 1 soldiers, but when Hitler said that tobacco was "wrath of the red man against the white man for having been given hard liquor" and began the very first national anti-tobacco movement, everything changed.

We are not really sure when tobacco was first used, but research shows it being used over 2,000 years ago! The native Aztec and Mayan people must have used tobacco in religious rituals, because archaeologists actually found a Mayan vase with a picture drawn on it of dancers and smoking skeletons - a symbol of the death god. Even that long ago, tobacco represented, or was a sign of, death. We should have kept that in mind before all this started, because now I am witnessing my once innocent friends go through the harsh affect of smoking tobacco. Children are taught in schools why smoking is so bad, people are conscious of the affects, but don't seem to care. Why do I keep seeing more and more people smoking everyday? Why is that when I walked into Walgreens there was a big sign saying, “Don’t want to croak? Don’t smoke.” But the entire wall behind the counter wass cigarette boxes? They were right next to each other, contridicting one another, and people fell into the trap of tobacco.

The American Lung Association says that each day, nearly 6,000 children under the age of 18 start smoking. Some people might think this is normal, but what is the definition of normal? I know that this is definitely not it. 5% of 8th graders smoke at least one cigarette daily. That means that 13 and 14 years olds are smoking and ruining their chance at a good education and a healthy life. 12% of 10th graders and 20% of 12 graders smoke, and have the same consequences. Cigarette advertisements tend to go after the young, because as a well-known saying states; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The advertisements show the young that it will increase their sexual attraction and independence, which appeal to the ones with these issues. Even the ones without these issues want to keep those things, so they will buy the cigarettes, or they find another reason or excuse to have them. Advertising reaches everyone. Certain companies will try to get you to buy cigarettes and to start smoking, but then turn around and tell you it’s a bad thing, and those same companies come up with the things for you to buy to stop smoking. It’s one big vicious circle.

Just the other day, I was walking with my friend and he pulled out a cigarette. I was speechless and soon became overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. I couldn’t stop him even if I tried, he would only be able to stop if he wanted to. I was ashamed and sad even more than I was shocked, though he acted as if it was nothing. Just a week before, my best friend said that one of our friends offered her a drag. She didn’t take the offer and I showed her praise, but receded when she told me that it was more tempting than anything. She said that because everyone in her family smokes, she most likely will too and at that moment she set herself up for failure. Since then hasn't gone anywhere but down. It's hard, because my friends just ruined their lives, because they will most likely smoke for the rest of their days and no one wants to see that happening.

Some people wonder how it can ruin a person's life, but I'm here to tell you that it can and will. Imagine yourself rolling around in a heaping pile of dirt or mud. Every little grain of dirt sticks to your body and then you walk around with dirt or mud stuck to you all day. It's gross, gets in the way, it's dirty, and bad for your skin. If that dirt were tar, you wouldn't think it's so fun to become the "Sand Man", because tar is bad for your lungs, which impacts your breathing as well as your health tremendously. You're not safe if you just smoke once, because unfortunately, you can't just wash this off like dirt and get a redo.

Knowing this, it’s amazing that about one in five teenagers (aged 13 to 15) smoke worldwide. I talked to one of my friends, and he seemed to listen and agree, but then turned around and smoked like I said nothing and my words just passed by with the wind. I told him that even if he didn’t take my advice to at least think about it. He said he promised, though, I'm not sure I believed him. Today he called me up and said that he was done and his smoking habbits were over with. He was also considerate enough to thank me for being there for him and I realized that there is hope in this long lost world. Now let's see if that spark of hope is big enough to start a fire.

So many people are smoking nowadays, and when you look back at history, you can see why. People promoted cigarette smoking very heavily in the mid 1800’s all the way through the early 1900’s, but then turned around and told us all it is a bad thing. All of this is having an affect on teenagers wanting to rebel, because with our hormones and emotions, we can't take the contridictions. Many of us are now witnessing our children and friends taking the dive. A 2001 national survey of high school students showed the overall prevalence of current cigarette use was 28 percent, and that's too high.





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Xiaoyu W. said...
Mar. 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm
I must say that this is a fantastic article. you use good specific examples and utilize them in order to make a point.
 
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