Laurianne's Hope

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why Do People Smoke?

The past few weeks (yes, weeks!) I have been thinking a lot about smoking. In today's society, we have so many anti-smoking messages. But, when you think about it, as much as there are anti-smoking messages, that is causes cancer and other ailments to your health, there are also pro-smoking messages. Today, in the New York Times, there was an article on the hypocrisy of the government. Despite putting out an anti-smoking message, smoking is still permitted in Congress. Even a certain actor turned California governor has encouraged the message of non-smoking, while continuing to smoke giant stogies.

Speaking of actors, Hollywood also continues to perpetuate the myth that smoking is elegant and sophisticated. I think about how when my parents were in school, they and their peers were probably bombarded with images of smoking, it sophistication and elegance. If their role models smoked, why shouldn't they? If they smoked, maybe they could acquire the same elegance and sophistication, even the same attention that the movie stars have. From the beginning, smoking in movies has been encouraged.
I remember activists stating if Hollywood stopped smoking in movies, then maybe our youth would not be encouraged to smoke. Yet, even today, we see our popular actors and actresses still smoking, even if it is in their free time.

And let's face it. If it is cool for James Bond to still smoke, the guy who oozes coolness with his privilege of having access to the coolest gadgets and great places to travel, then why shouldn't today's teenager smoke. They want to be sophisticated and cool also. They continue to get mixed messages. And so they start smoking. They have children who look up to their parents and see them smoking. They think "Hey, my parents smoke, James Bond smokes, why shouldn't I?" Or maybe their parents don't smoke. Maybe it is peer pressure, because if Joe Popular wants me to smoke, then he will accept me into his group and I will be cool. Like James Bond. Or Sharon Stone. Or Matt Damon. (Though I did see something that said Matt Damon may have quit.) And then, the addiction is so strong, they don't know how to quit. Or maybe they like it enough they don't want to quit. And slowly, the health problems start to begin. Impotence, emphysema, cancer, premature aging.

I think, to a certain extent, if our role models get sick, we don't want to hear about it. We don't want to hear they have cancer. We want them to stay young, sophisticated, elegant. We want to be like that person they personify. We want to believe that with money and power, anything can be fixed. Maybe some of us even want to believe that smoking can help cure our health ailments.

Or maybe not. When all is said and done, though, smoking still makes your beautiful and elegant. Right? Right?

My sister, who grew up in non-smoking California, wasn't a fan of the habit. My dad said the only time he ever saw her run was when she ran passed a group of smokers because she didn't want Calem exposed to the second-hand smoke. Did I mention she had a collapsed lung from lung cancer? And my mom remembers that someone asked from money from them when they went shopping. My mom ignored it, but my sister heard it. And when they came out, the bum muttered something again, and my sister turned around and told him he was smoking and she wasn't going to give him money to support his habit, because she had lung cancer.

Laurianne knew the dangers. Most of us do. Laurianne didn't want Calem to have to worry about lung cancer. I think it is a valid concern. Parents want the best for their kids.

I went to my blog buddy SpiderWalk, to read her blog. She got an anniversary reminder that this would be her quit date. She had started smoking 5 days after her quit date. This anniversary email reminded her that she hadn't really quit, but she wants to. People who comment on her website say they understand. It is addictive. My dad, a former smoker, says he admires people who quit, because it is so addictive and one of the most difficult things a person can do. (For the record, my dad quit when I was a baby.) And from SpiderWalk's blog, I found a new website,, for people who want to quit. Like weight loss, sometimes all you need is a little support to break the habit.

Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 9:44 AM :: 4 people are more aware