Smoking Pretty Much Sucks, So Don’t Start

    When I was young, I never imagined that I would smoke a cigarette. My parents smoked — which I thought was disgusting — those antismoking ads on television made me think cigarettes were for losers and I sunk away in fear after examining those grotesque, black, wrinkled, preserved smokers’ lungs floating in formaldehyde at school assemblies.

    Throughout my days at Costa Mesa High School, as more and more of my friends started smoking (the statistics were true!), I held my ground, faltering only to half-heartedly puff a Djarum clove here and there at parties because in my own world of self-justification I imagined them to be somewhat less unhealthy than their whiter, less-good-smelling cousins. Plus, they taste kind of sweet, so I didn’t choke on the smoke.

    From there I moved on to hookah, as my friends and I discovered local lounges where 18-year-olds could sit for hours and puff away on exotic tobacco flavors like white peach, guava, lemon mint, rose and even prickly pear. The practice became even more common as we unearthed small, hidden hookah dens run by Middle Eastern businessmen who never checked our IDs, allowing my under-18 friends the opportunity to assert their hipness as they joined in the smoking festivities. All the while, I consistently told myself that hookah wasn’t as bad as cigarettes — couldn’t be, actually — because it didn’t come plastered with a surgeon general’s warning.

    Then, one fateful day, I caved. I was sitting with a friend who smoked, and she offered me a Marlboro Light, which I accepted. I sucked it down quickly and from that moment on, my antismoking wall slowly began crumbling as I said “yes” to more and more cigarette requests, even though I knew in the back of my mind it was unwise. But I kept convincing myself that smoking one here and there wasn’t a big deal and that there was no way I’d get addicted. I was wrong. College happened, and, consequently, I ceased living at home. Smoking became easier because I no longer had to hide it from my mother (sorry if you’re reading this online, mom) and I began buying my own packs — Marlboro Blend No. 27, which isn’t as harsh and doesn’t reek as much as other cigarettes — telling myself I wouldn’t get hooked and would only smoke socially. Wrong again.

    Fast-forward to now. I am fiercely trying to quit, but it’s hard. Really hard. I find myself craving a cigarette when I go on a break at work, when I’m sitting in traffic, after a meal, walking to class, out at bars with my friends. So I’ve quit buying my own packs and have gone basically cold turkey for the past two weeks, cheating only a scattered handful of times. But I’m determined to desist. And to all Tritons out there who still puff their cancer sticks, I extend an open offer to join me in quitting. We all know that smoking is unhealthy, expensive and essentially pointless. So put out your butts and enjoy waking up wheeze-free again. There’s absolutely no good reason not to.

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