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Like a Cigarette? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     “Hey! Would you like a cigarette?” Teens are asked this question all the time. Some just don’t know how to answer. You could respond with a cool “Nah, I’m good” or a polite “No, thanks” or a simple “No!” It’s not hard at all - I am sure it doesn’t compare to questions on a math test.

So why do teens still say “Sure”? It confuses me, because cigarettes don’t do anything more than calm you. Everyone coughs the first time they smoke, and society doesn’t think smoking is cool anymore. It turns your teeth yellow and makes your breath smell like an ashtray, and it isn’t cheap with all the government taxes.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost a half a million people die of smoking-related illnesses each year. Unfortunately, this winter my aunt was one of them.

My aunt was a teen when she started smoking. She smoked for four years, and then my uncle made her quit because they were getting married and starting a family. They were living a life where everything was going right: They owned a great house, had three

beautiful children doing well in school, and money was not a big issue.

Then, about two years ago, my aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer is one of the most difficult types of cancers to cure, but she and my uncle were determined to beat it. She went everywhere to find a treatment, and she went through chemotherapy. Still, she only lived two years after she was diagnosed. She lost the fight.

From one point of view she lost the fight when she was first asked, “Would you like a cigarette?” She died at the age of 44 and left behind a heartbroken husband and three kids who think, Why did this happen to us? Their life is not going to be easy. She also left her family and friends who could do nothing but cry at her funeral. My aunt didn’t know that her smoking would lead to this. I am sure if she had known, her answer to “Would you like a cigarette?” would have been different.

After reading this, I hope that the next time someone asks you that question, you will know the answer without hesitation. Unfortunately for my aunt, it was too late. Don’t allow her story to happen to you.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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