The Scoop On Smoking from ACSH: what every teen should know about tobacco
John Doeage: 20
started smoking at age: 13
smoking frequency: currently 2 or 3 a week
monthly expenditure on tobacco: Um, maybe like $250 a month
tried to quit at age: 15, 19 and 20... now
the basicsWhat is your current status of tobacco use and in what form? (# of packs/cigs daily, quit, trying to quit)
I recently cut down to 2 or 3 cigarettes a week and maybe one cigar. Occasionally, I dip too. A few months ago, I was smoking about a pack of cigarettes a day, and at my max I had two packs a day.Is smoking very popular among your friends?
It is very popular among some, and not so much among others. My closer friends generally don't smoke.Do your parents know that you smoke?
YesIf they do know, what do they think about it?
Clearly they would rather I didn't, but they didn't act surprised or disappointed.Do you know the current dangers of smoking?
Yes.Are you worried about how tobacco will impact your health in the future?
Minimally. I think I fit within the limits I set for myself in terms of how long I would smoke.
the beginningWhy did you start smoking?
It had something to do with experimentation, deviance, tempting fate, and it became a social activity. As more friends started smoking, I smoked more heavily. I also always found smoking sexy.If you obtained tobacco products before you were 18, how did you get them?
Looking back, it's surprising how easy it was when I was 13 to bum them off people on the street, especially when I see how young 13 year oldslook to me now. Then I also started bumming them off older friends and also got a fake ID for when I started buying them myself. It was never really a problem.Do you worry that you will not be able to get tobacco products when you need them?
Yes, but that's a situation I just try to avoid.Did anything or anyone influence your decision to smoke, i.e. friends, movies, ads, family?
I would say no, not noticeably, just experimentation and curiosity.How aware were you of the health dangers when you started smoking?
Oh, fully aware of them.Did the health dangers scare you when you started?
Well for one thing, when you're young most of us haven't experienced death very closely. You have that invincibility that young people have. And also the intangible-seeming danger added to the pleasure of smoking.
the effects of smokingWhat were some of health effects you experienced when you smoked a pack a day?
quittingHave you ever tried to quit?
YesIf you have tried to quit, what was your motivation?
A bet with my brother - that I couldn't, and to get in better shape and was worried about my future health.How did you quit (cutting back, cold turkey)?
This last time, cold turkey for the first 3 weeks and then I allowed myself to have one occasionally. My goal is to buy a pack and be able to keep them for when I have an appropriate social situation and not to have to smoke them just because I have them. That's why I started buying cigars. You just can't smoke those like cigarettes.Have you had any lasting health problems since quitting/cutitng back?
My stamina is still reduced, but I think I can build it back up again.Have you experienced any health improvements since quitting?
Increased energy.If you have not tried to completely quit, why not?
I've cut down a lot and I consider myself to have pretty much quit. I don't think quitting has to mean never having a cigarette again. It is a power struggle between the chemical and my resentment towards being controlled by something. Quitting like this, I am fully in control (pause) of having a cigarette once in awhile. It's still a great comfort and I don t think it is unhealthy to have one once in a while if you can keep it under control.Do you think you will have trouble quitting when you decide to completely quit?
Yes, 'cause you give up that comfort and nostalgia... an old friend. I is hard to train myself to do things I have never done without smoking like driving, and when I get off the subway and automatically reach for my pocket.Do you think you are addicted to cigarettes?
the pictureWould you like to see a graphic picture of what happens to a smoker's body?
I wouldn't seek it out, but since it's here....Comments?
That's just gross, can you put it away now?If you had seen this picture before you started smoking, would you have started?
parting wordsLastly, do you have any words of advice you would like to give to other teenagers who are either considering starting to smoke or already smoking?
Last year, my brother asked me if I see myself as a life-long smoker. I said no. It made me realize that I'll quit when I'm ready. So maybe I'd say that all this anti-smoking stuff, the interview, the gross picture, the lung they show you in school, won't make you quit if you don't want to. You have to be ready to quit. But I also don't regret smoking so I don't know what I'd say.
The American Council on Science and Health is a consumer eduction consortium with a board of 350 physicians, scientists, and policy advisors.