Sitting in a crowded restaurant with the tinkling of ice in wine and water glasses, small children crying and playing with their dinner and cheerful voices filling the air I notice a cloud of smoke hanging over my table. The thick cloud of smoke is not coming directly from my table but from numerous tables surrounding it. I am not a cigarette smoker but I am very quick to add that “I am a second hand smoker, and a good one at that” Inhaling the terrible scent of nicotine and ashes I excuse myself to go out side where I can breath. My appetite is now gone. I have always tried to be a person who allowes people to make their own mistakes and live their own lives if it did not harm me directly. Needless to say cigarette smokers harm me directly. I have three reasons why people should not buy cigarettes. Not only for the obvious health risks but also for the potential savings. I have a friend who loves to smoke cigarettes almost three packs a day. They also like the idea of winning a lump sum of money for the lottery they aren’t willing to play.

The first reason began one day I decided to take a moment of my time to become my friend’s very own financial advisor. I wanted them to see the potential savings they are missing out on because of their very costly nicotine habit. As we sat at the dining room table with my friend lighting up a thin cancer stick one for them to enjoy and me to gag on we began the process. A pack of cigarettes can range in price up to five dollars a pack. They smoke three packs a day averaging out to $15 dollars a day. That is $105.00 dollars a week. I was completely taken back by the amount of money they spent on cigarettes. Not to mention the fact that they were paying to put tar on their lungs as well as give themself a lingering possibility of lung cancer, or heart failure. $105.00 dollars a week averages out to $420.00 dollars a month and $5,040 dollars a year. They have been smoking for the past twenty three years. If my friend had started a savings account at the beginning of their smoking career they would have $115,920.00 dollars saved as of today and still counting. That figure did not include the interest earned on the savings account through out the years. My friend inadvertently spent their lottery winnings on cigarettes. Sure they would have waited twenty three years to see that big lump sum but how many actual lottery hopefuls won when they first started playing.

Not only are cigarettes a potential health hazard to the person who smokes but to the non smokers who surround them but it is a bad way to give away $115,920.00. I don’t know anyone who would willing give away that kind of money at one time so why do it during the course of time. My second reason people shouldn’t buy cigarettes is for social reasons.
You are standing out doors on a breezy winter morning on the outside of a building huddled close to the wall with a cigarette in hand and a lighter close by. You see a pretty attractive person walk out of the building lifting an eyebrow with interest. Their eye quickly takes note to the thin white stick you hold so gracefully in between your fingers. They bow their head with disappointment and disgust as they walk away. You temporarily feel bad for the habit you’ve been trying to kick for three days now however you can’t get rid of the nagging feeling left by the attractive stranger. This may ring familiar for some cigarette smokers. I personally don’t like dating men who smoke cigarettes mainly because it smells bad and the smell gets into everything from my hair to my clothes. Not to mention kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray filled with ashes and cigarette butts it’s just not appealing. Are cigarette smokers “bad people” not necessarily however they make non smokers feel uncomfortable when they light up. I usually find myself going through extreme coughing fits when I am in direct contact with a smoker. I also find myself wanting to bail from the area as quickly as possible.

The third reason to stop smoking is pretty simple. The people you could possibly leave behind. Picture yourself lying in a hospital bed surrounded by loved ones. You are attached to breathing machines and tiny tubes going into your arms. You have a small hole in your throat to help you breath and speak. Your young daughter looks at you with sad eyes filling rapidly with tears. You allow yourself to remember the past when she hid a pack of your cigarettes as an attempt to get you to quit. As you lay motionless in the cold hospital bed you wish you would have not went to find that pack of cigarettes. If that is not a great enough reason not to buy cigarettes I don’t know what is.

Would you buy your teenager cigarettes?

I can relate to your neighbor’s situation, it’s almost a photocopy of mine in 2001. I was 37, hopelessly hooked, and my 15 year old daughter decided she also wanted to start smoking. At first I tried to forbid it, but eventually I gave in. Your neighbor has only 2 choices.

1) Try to forbid it, and risk her daughter smoking anyway, but getting cigarettes from the wrong crowd.

2) Provide her with cigarettes, make for a safer situation for her daughter, but risk problems with teachers, other parents, or the social services people.

After talking at length about the future risks and consequences of smoking, and letting her make the decision, I too, allowed her to smoke, as well as agreed to provide her with cigarettes. But I had 3 rules. 1) she provided cigarettes to NOBODY. 2) She would bum from nobody if she wanted to try a pack of something different, all she had to do was ask me. And 3) any friends that she would have that also smoked would not smoke in our home if they were under 18 (though I did make one exception in her senior year, she became friends with another senior who was a smoker, and her mother and I became good friends). Between #1 and #2, I still felt like I was in control, plus I could tell how much she was smoking.

Your neighbor probably could have, as I definately could have, done a better job dissuaded or discouraging her daughter from starting. But once the decision was made to become a smoker, it’s in most cases too late for that. So your neighbor made the right choice.