Where there’s smoke, there’s denial.
U.S. officials step up anti-smoking efforts as teen smoking continues to rise.
The surgeon general claims the states are failing to curb teen smoking. Experts are baffled as public service announcements are found to have little impact on teen smoking rates.
Honestly, were these people born old?
Finger pointing. We all know that advertising is continually blamed for the sway smoking continues to hold over our nation’s youth.
What advertising? We no longer have dancing cigarette boxes on our television screens and no one walks a mile for a Camel, or much of anything else for that matter.
No, while a concentrated advertising blitz may explain away the Backstreet Boys, I think we have to dig deeper to explain smoking.
Endless youth. Teen smoking continues to rise because immortality is irrelevant to a teenager. This is how they manage to pilot an automobile owning exactly 15 minutes of actual driving experience, and feel blithely confident about the whole endeavor.
It’s a gift really. Anyone who can even dimly remember their own teen years can explain why the fuddy-duddy (yeah, I know, I’m dating myself with that one) anti-smoking campaign, fraught as it is with dire warnings of future cancers, is a dud.
Teenagers are never going to be “old.” It is impossible.
To a teen “old” is no more plausible than dancing on the surface of the moon. Smoking-related illness is no more likely, to their minds, than the world imploding upon itself.
And even if either of those things does happen, they’ll be ancient by then right? I mean like 44 at least!
I never took up smoking. However, not being one to let my prime cancer-bearing years pass me by, I slathered myself with baby oil, draped myself across an aluminum-foil-wrapped lawn chair, and misted myself with a garden hose for good measure.
I’m sure any of our remaining neighbors back on Woodard Avenue remember me as a neighborhood curiosity. The girl who, like a rotisserie chicken, turned every once in a while to insure even broiling.
What were future malignancies compared to a cute tan?
Adults, on the other hand, slowly grow to “get it.” That dawning realization that death is unpredictable, and everlastingly real.
So adults who don’t smoke, don’t start. And those who do bravely soldier on trying to quit, or at the very least preach “do as I say, not as I do,” which frankly, gets a lot of undeserved bad press. How is learning from the mistakes of others such a bad plan?
Meanwhile, secure in the arrogance of youth, too many teens light up for the first, but sadly not the last, time.
Up in smoke. Let’s forget harping incessantly on future risks that most teens find no more threatening than Scooby Doo reruns. Instead, we’ll start one of those urban legends that wing their way instantly across the nation via e-mail.
Instead of a choking Doberman or vipers in the fast food ball pits, we’ll say that smoking causes acne.
If we all work together perhaps we can take the myth of an endless supply of tomorrows to be squandered in a puff – and send it right up in smoke.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt urges safer habits than smoking. Such as juggling flaming knives. She welcomes comments c/o P.O. box 38, Salem, OH 44460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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