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    Smoking rates hold steady despite awareness of negative consequences

    Smoking rates hold steady despite awareness of negative consequences

    By Janai Cunningham

    Nicely packaged boxes in pink and green sit on the shelves behind store clerks. A teenager gives the money over to receive a nicotine high, removes the cigarette out of the cardboard box, and holds the flame to the tip of the roll, eager to feel the smoke inflate their lungs.

    Studies show that tobacco companies have been attracting young adults in their marketing campaign. The legal age to have possession of tobacco, in Virginia, is 18. In 2007, Camel No. 9 tobacco company packaged their cigarettes in hot-pink and teal-green boxes. Studies showed that this enticed young girls ages 12 to 16 to try their product. The R.J. Reynolds company, which make Camel, insisted that was not their intention.

    Senior Lewis Zingaro, Jr. was 14 when he first experienced the sensation of smoking a cigarette.

    “My friends and I were bored one day and decided to try it out. Seeing everybody else do it we thought it was a cool thing to do,” Zingaro said.

    Tobacco companies spend millions of dollars on advertising campaigns. Visions of glamour and success entice teens to try their cigarette brand. Insecurities that teens experience become a weak point that tobacco companies take advantage of.

    Senior Chelsea Traylor was 15 when she first smoked a cigarette.

    “It was more peer pressure than anything else. I hung around a bunch of older people that were 18 and did smoke, so they did influence me,” Traylor said. “I think my family also influenced me. My mom smoked and I repeatedly asked her to stop, but she didn’t. It made me think that it wasn’t a big deal.”.

    Cigarettes today are pushed more and more into teenagers’ lives. Music videos zoom in on artists smoking and doing drugs. Posters at the local gas station are positioned at a low eye level for kids. It’s becoming less of a taboo and more normal every day.

    The school policy states that tobacco products cannot be on school property. This includes in lockers, personal book bags or vehicles in the student parking lot. Also, in a new policy enforced last year, individuals cannot smoke at school functions such as football games and banquets.

    “We recently had signs made and put up to make people realize that smoking is not permitted. Many people don’t know and so we’re trying to put the word out,” Officer Butch Pearson said.

    Over 4,000 chemicals are wrapped up in each cigarette. Toxins that are used in prison executions, like hydrogen cyanide, and urea, which is found in urine are just two of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes..

    “Yeah I know about all of the negative side effects, but I don’t care. My mom and family have all had cancer so I’m bound to get it eventually,” Zingaro said.

    Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the world. Nicotine is highly addictive and can reach the brain in 10 seconds. 60.9% of U.S. students who smoked on a regular basis admitted to trying to quit smoking,   however, only 12.2% were successful.

    “I did quit smoking for two years because a friend asked me to. We don’t talk anymore, though, so I started back up again.” Zingaro said.

    “I smoke about a pack a day,” Traylor said. “I think that I’m addicted now, but in the beginning it was more like a bad habit.”

    Cancer is a big health concern when it comes to smoking, but there are many more complications and side effects that can occur. Chronic bronchitis, emphysema, a stoke, or heart attack may later affect the body. Physical concerns include premature wrinkles, yellow teeth and fingers, and bad breath.

    “You never stop coughing. You will always have a tickle in your throat. After a while it puts a toll on you. The worst part is that you smell and knowing that others know you smoke. The phlegm that you cough up, it’s disgusting,” Traylor said.

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    • U

      Unique LarryJan 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      I was happy that this article was published to enlighten teenagers and adults alike about what they are putting into their lungs ,Smoking is a horrible habit that I will never understand.Everyone that picks up a pack is fully aware that it causes your lungs to fill with tar and that it is known to become addicting yet they continue to do so.

    • J

      Jessica TaylorJan 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Bottom line, smoking is a disgusting habit. Many people in my family smoke so I have spent much time around smokers, and I have no desire whatsoever to give it a try. I have repeatedly tried to get some of the people in my family to quit, but they won’t. My great grandma died as a result of being a smoker most of her life. It was hard to see her plugged up to an oxygen tank, barely able to talk, and coughing up blood.

    • R

      Raya GirardNov 7, 2010 at 4:05 am

      It is difficult for people my age to grasp the idea that smoking will shorten their lives. By the time people mature enough to realize that,they are addicted to the drugs in the cigarette it is very difficult to have the will power to quit. It takes a very strong person to beat an addiction. I think the best thing that has happened recently to help people either stop smoking or not start smoking is that the price of cigarettes went up. I think the government should raise the tax on cigarettes again and put that money toward health care to take care of the people who smoked their whole life and now have health care issues because of cigarettes.

    • A

      Alex MartinezNov 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

      The school must not be working too hard to cut down on smoking because every time I go to my car in the parking lot to leave school in the afternoon, I always see people smoking where the teachers are only a mere thirty second walk away. Similarly, it is common to see people smoking at football games and the like at our school contrary to the regulation mentioned in the article.

    • H

      Haseena Abdur-RahmanOct 18, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the world and I can’t believe that even with all of the positive influence on teens about how smoking is wrong, that it is still happening to my fellow peers.Of all the complications that occur with smoking, I’m transfixed and amazed that it’s still happening. I understand that in certain enviroments, some people are subconciously affected by smoking habits, but most of the time, teens do it to look cool; which it’s not.

    • O

      Olivia TritschlerOct 18, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      I am surprised that people really do start smoking at ages such as 14 and 15. I mean most of us all hear stories of people smoking at young ages, but I guess it really hits home when you hear it from someone. I was also surprised to find out that it takes only 10 seconds for Nicotine to reach the brain. I wish this information was know when everyone is still young, which I mean over the past few years it has definitely gotten better with informing the public, but it is still sad to see people consumed by this addicting habit. Great job Janai!

    • T

      Trey CarterOct 18, 2010 at 7:15 am

      Although there are several awareness techniques to attempt to prevent smoking, the rates remain high, which is understandable. Tobacco is a stimulant, that causes a sensation within the user, which in turn leads to relaxation. The way the economy is going, stress levels are rising, therefore people are going to reach for different methods of relaxation, obviously smoking is one of the most popular.

    • J

      Joseph P.Oct 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      I will never understand why people decide to smoke. I guess back in the old days, it was the cool thing to do since not everyone knew about all the health risks, and those people have kids now and those kids see their parents doing it. I have been trying to get my parents to quit since I can remember. For about 2 months this summer, my dad actually quit, but because my mom never stopped, she ultimately caused my dad to give in to smoking again. It disappoints me because I know one day it will finally catch up to them. Oh well, I won’t stop trying though.

      Nice article, btw.