Students smoke despite consequences

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Maggie Kramer, asst. web editor

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In the 1950s and 60s, smoking was the thing to do, as it was popularized through movies and T.V. shows. Nowadays, smoking is banned in most public places, and the danger it has to one’s health has become common knowledge.

Even though smoking may not be seen as glamorous as it was before, according to an Oracle-conducted survey of 163 students, 68 percent of students currently smoke or have in the past.

Out of this 68 percent, 89 percent smoke or have smoked marijuana, including junior Cindy Johnson*.

Johnson began smoking her sophomore year with her older brother and his friends. She now usually smokes with her brother or cousin.

Johnson explained that smoking has changed things for her socially.

“You meet a lot of people through it,” Johnson said. “Like when people drink, it’s a social thing.”

Most often Johnson smokes in a forest, a car, or her bedroom. She explained that she never smokes alone, that someone always has a place and she never does so during school.

Johnson usually smokes what her friends already have, but she explains that there have been instances where she has gone out to get it.

“The people you least expect sell it,” Johnson said. “It is not very hard to find. You hand them the money and it’s not a big deal.”

Johnson said that although she also drinks, she typically does not smoke and drink at the same time. She believes it is a bad idea to have both items in the body simultaneously because there is a higher chance of making poor choices when under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol.

Johnson does not regret her decision to choose to smoke marijuana because she believes she is able to control herself.

Although Johnson is a smoker, she explained that it does not make a person cool or popular, and it is not something someone should feel pressured to do.

Jane Smith* graduated from South two years ago, but while in high school she smoked both marijuana and cigarettes. She began smoking marijuana the summer of her junior year and started smoking cigarettes the summer of her senior year.

Smith smoked with her friends, usually getting the marijuana from friends who dealt it. She mentioned that although some people choose to smoke at school, she usually did not.

“I only smoked during school sometimes because for me it wasn’t worth getting caught,” Smith said. “I was able to wait until after school because I knew it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I had to wait six hours.”

During her years at South, Smith also drank, usually drinking and smoking at the same time.

“I smoked more when I drank,” Smith said. “It made me feel less drunk and less sick. It helped me calm down more and be able to drink more after I smoked.”

Although she got caught and grounded for doing such activities, Smith continued smoking and still does today.

“I don’t really regret smoking weed,” Smith said. “The only bad part about it is how hungry it makes me, and the next morning I have to try and work off all the weight I gained from eating so much the night before.”

While she does not regret smoking marijuana, Smith does regret ever starting to smoke cigarettes because they stain her teeth and affect her voice.

Junior Samantha Kerry* explained that although smoking is bad for the body, it was her way of dealing with hardships in her life.

“I smoked cigarettes for a while just because things in my life were so incredibly stressful,” Kerry said. “My first boyfriend [emotionally abused] me […] I went out with him for a whole year, and when I was with him I basically threw my life away. Smoking marijuana was a release from pretty much everything and was the only time I felt really good about myself, but after a couple times it just made me sick, so I started smoking cigarettes. I was never addicted to anything and am thankful that I got out of that situation. I [wanted] to be healthy.”

Senior Landon Veroni* , feels similarly and does not smoke, due to the various health problems it causes.

“We have so much education about what it does to your body and how it can cause all sorts of respiratory problems or even cancer,” Veroni said. “Why would I want to increase my chance of dying at an early age? Life is already too short.”

According to smoking-facts.net, about 20 percent of American teens smoke. Roughly six million of them smoke despite the knowledge that it is addictive and leads to disease.

In addition, kids who smoke experience changes in the lungs and reduced lung growth. They risk not achieving normal lung function as adults. Kids who smoke have other significant health problems, including cough and phlegm production and decreased physical fitness.

Having experienced the effects of smoking first hand, Veroni knows the damage it can cause.

“My dad died from using drugs, and the thing that got him started using drugs was smoking,” Veroni said. “I’m not saying smoking is a gateway drug for everybody, but it definitely is for a lot of people. My mom also smokes and it’s really painful to see her killing herself because she is one of the most important people to me and I can’t even imagine losing another parent.”

According to abovetheinfluence.com, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Between 1964 and 2004, cigarette smoking caused an estimated 12 million deaths, 4.1 million of which were from cancer, and 5.5 million of which were from cardiovascular diseases.

Senior Caroline Heckler understands the effects of smoking and has chosen not to.

“I think everyone can make a decision for themselves, and if it’s that they want to smoke, so be it,” Heckler said. “Some people I know smoke, and it’s hard to see it because they’ve tried so hard to stop, and they can’t because they are so addicted. It sucks to see them make the decision they do, but it’s their decision not mine.”

Veroni stated a similar idea, that smoking is not something that is a group decision, it comes down to the person and what they believe is right for them.

“I have grown to just accept the way things are,” Veroni explained. “The important thing to me is that I don’t smoke. I can’t control other’s lives, I can only control mine.”

*Name has been altered to protect student’s identity

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