You think you look cool? I disagree!
The other day as I walked across a parking lot, a noisy bunch caught my attention. As I glanced in the direction of the ruckus, I noticed a mom and a dad unloading four small children from their car. The kids looked to be anywhere from age 7 or 8 all the way on down to a brand-new baby. I noticed the mom leaning into the car to unfasten the infant from the car seat while the oldest child reached in from the other side to help his mom. As she leaned over her baby’s car seat, I was dismayed to notice a lit cigarette dangling from her mouth.
Yes, folks, here it is: A rant about parents who smoke. If this applies to you, please accept my apologies in advance because the chances are good that there might be something herein that you will dislike reading. On the other hand, I hope that as you read these words, a light bulb will pop on. Perhaps you will snap to your senses and run to the garbage disposal to stuff all your cigarettes into disintegrated oblivion while vowing never to smoke again. I know; I’m a dreamer. But, you would probably be lying if you said you’ve never thought about quitting. Truth is, I’ve never met a smoker who hasn’t tried to quit at least once or twice. All smokers seem to know how dangerous it is for their health. No one has ever tried to convince me that it wasn’t. Yet, the smoking continues. Knowing and doing are vastly different things. But, to make it worse, some folks even do it around their children!
You say you smoke around your children?
STOP DOING THAT!
YES, THIS MEANS YOU!
Okay, so, all disclaimers aside. Back to my story: The smoke was wafting right into the baby’s face! In the meantime, the dad stood nearby lighting his own cigarette. While I usually try to avoid jumping to snap judgments or drawing conclusions about strangers, I have to admit that I did indeed think bad things about these irresponsible parents. I even found myself wondering if the lady had smoked throughout her pregnancy as well.
It seems to me that some people have no common sense. But perhaps what I view as common sense isn’t so common. Maybe these folks just don’t know any better? The facts are frightening. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, every day nearly three thousand young people try their first cigarette and another 700 become regular smokers. That adds up to a quarter-million new underage smokers annually in our country. 90% of adult smokers began in their teens. One in three smokers will die from smoking related diseases. This adds up to 5.6 million children today who will grow up only to die prematurely because of a poor decision made as a teen. The tobacco companies spend $24 million dollars each and every day to promote their deadly products. And the sobering fact is that studies show children to be more susceptible and receptive to all that advertising. The addiction rate for cigarettes is stronger than marijuana, alcohol or cocaine!
Your children will most likely become smokers too!
But here’s the worst part. (Heck, yes, the news gets even worse! I saved the really upsetting part until the end!) If you are a smoker, one in three of your children will become a smoker too. Some studies even indicate a rate as high as 50%. (Be on the lookout, most teens begin smoking at age 16 through 18.) And while we all know that peer pressure can be a huge contributing factor, when it comes to smoking, the even higher influence comes from parent behavior. That’s right, folks, you won’t be able to blame this one on peer pressure. It’s all on you.
The bottom line is this: It does not matter if a smoking parent says not to smoke and tells their child that smoking is unhealthy. What matters most is the parent’s actual behavior. Smoking parents lead to smoking children. Smoking children grow up to become smoking adults. Many of these smoking adults have children… and guess what? You see where this is going? These are real facts. It is a cycle that must be broken.
TOTALLY GROSS! MAKES ME WANNA BARF!
All this negativity and I haven’t even mentioned the terrible health consequences. Smoking is unhealthy. We’ve all heard it before. We’ve all read it before. We all know it’s true. It is best not to smoke at all, but if you make that choice, please don’t do it anywhere near your children. There will never be a perfect time to quit. So, why not today? Your grandchildren will thank you. Phew, was that a breath of fresh air?