I started smoking when I was 24. That is unusual. According to the CDC, 80% of smokers started before they were 18 years old. Surprising to me that I started late because both of my parents smoked and smoked heavily. I managed to make it out of the house to my own place without ever being interested in smoking. I should have been immune for life by then.
I started because I found a lovely antique cigarette case at a junk shop and bought it thinking it would look very sophisticated on the coffee table. Back then, cigarettes were cheap, and I filled that case with thin, brown cigarettes that looked vaguely French. At the time, I rarely smoked them because although I had a lovely silver case and fancy cigarettes, I didn’t have matches or a lighter. They were just stage dressing; a prop.
Then I discovered smoking instead of eating and cigarettes were no longer props; they were essential to my ever day life.
I didn’t know about addiction back then. I had no idea how much control over my life I would willingly give up to nicotine. I had no idea how difficult it would be to take back that control. I always wonder why smoking prevention programs focus on the health aspects of smoking. Kids think they are immortal. Kids do know about the dangers of addiction, though. They have heard about it in connection with opioids and illegal drugs.
If I could back to my 24 year-old self; what could I say that would convince me to not start smoking? What could I say right now to one of the 30% of high school students that are smoking?