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Up In Smoke This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Smoking is a major part of my life. It affects me almost every day. I don't smoke, but my best friend does. We often have arguments about it, but the matter is always left unresolved: I vehemently oppose him doing it, while he says it's his right.You know what - it is his right to smoke. After all, it's a free country. He took it up because he "had nothing better to do" and continues because he "wants to." These are perfectly valid reasons - if you're a 7-year-old (which he's not).I try not to let it bother me, but it does. It has no beneficial effects and is harmful in thousands of ways. When I hang out with him, I have to inhale smoke and I don't believe my health or my life should be in his control. It's not just him, either. It's clinically proven that second-hand smoke is worse than first-hand smoke. Why should smokers be allowed to put someone else's health at risk? In my case, I could stop hanging out with him, but he's my best friend.Besides chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes is the dirtiest habit I can think of. Every day, millions of people around the world light up. I don't understand why! People put their well-being in a position that it's almost certain they will get cancer, emphysema, or some other health problem. Why would so many people resort to slow suicide for no reason?Questioning people about their reasons for smoking, a frequent answer is that it's too hard to quit. I'm prompted to ask, "So why did you start in the first place?" Like my friend, these people are often hard pressed to come up with an intelligent answer. At this point I usually transform into a "nuisance" - at least that's what I'm told.For a long time, my friend denied that he was addicted and told me that he could quit "anytime." I just laughed to myself, not at his misfortune, but that he was a textbook addict. After constantly listening to my witty and informative (although often verbose) lectures, he agreed to quit within a month, about the time when school was starting. He asked me how long he should quit for. I turned, looked at him, and asked what he meant. He said, "Do you think I should quit until summer?" Again, I was dumbfounded. He's not a stupid person, even though he may lack common sense from time to time. However, he had decided to continue smoking when the school year ended.The long-awaited epilogue to my story: my friend quit smoking for about two days, but gave up when it proved too taxing. Needless to say, the debate rages on. I can only hope that, one day, I am able to persuade him to quit for the sake of his life - and mine. tf


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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