Problems Over Smoking

If your parents are hassling you about smoking cigarettes, it may be a real bummer for you. Parents today are supposedly more worried about their kids smoking pot.


But hassles with parents about anything can make you feel bad, so we’re glad you called us about this particular problem. We can’t tell you exactly what you should do in this situation, but perhaps we can offer you some new ways of looking at this problem that will help you to decide for yourself what will work best for you.

Whether you have smoking or non-smoking parents, the message from them about smoking may sound the same. They don’t want you to do it. Let’s look at this argument, first from those parents who do smoke.

Maybe the thing that’s bothering you is that you think they’re hypocritical — you know, the old “do as I say and not as I do” thing. But if your parents smoke, they just may have the best reasons in the world for not wanting you to start. They know about worrying over bad breath. They know about filthy smelling clothes, hair, house, and car. They know how dangerous smoking is to your health — how cigarettes cause lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and trigger heart trouble. They know how expensive the cigarette habit can be — a pack a day for a year probably means quite a bit of money the family could have used in a better way. And if your parents have smoked for a while, they probably know how hard it can be to quit. So much for the parents who smoke and don’t want you to.

What if your parents don’t smoke and still don’t want you to begin smoking. They see their friends and co-workers smoking and they see its effects on them. Perhaps one or both of their parents smoked and is now physically ill as a result of years of smoking or they have watched them suffer or die from emphysema or lung cancer. Such experiences make the dangers of cigarette smoking very real for your parents. At the very least, your parents may have read or heard the Surgeon General’s report that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health and they may simply want to protect you from the danger. Your parents just want what is best for you, and no matter how you look at it, smoking is definitely not the best thing for you.

But whether your parents smoke or not, you still have a problem on your hands. They don’t want you to do something you want to do. And, you don’t understand why they’re getting so uptight about something that really doesn’t seem that important. Maybe you smoke only a couple of cigarettes a day, or smoke just when you’re out with your friends. How can that hurt you in any way? You might figure that it will take at least 15 or 20 years before cigarettes will affect you – if ever.

Well now, you may ‘lot want to hear this, but you won’t have to wait 15 or 20 years for cigarettes to affect your health. It takes 3 seconds. In 3 seconds, this is what happens: your heart beats faster, your blood pressure goes up, carbon monoxide enters your blood and cancer causing chemicals spread through your body. All of this happens every time you smoke a cigarette, not after 20 years of smoking cigarettes. With each cigarette the damage to your body increases. And the younger you are when you start smoking, the more time your body has to put up with the harmful effects of cigarettes.

So maybe your parents do have a right to get uptight about what you’re doing. Understanding their feelings doesn’t solve the problem you’re having with them, though. So, what can you do about that?

The most obvious answer, of course, is to give up cigarettes. That would make your parents happy and keep you healthy.

Remember that this will be easier for you to quit if you’re a young smoker because you haven’t been hooked as hard as people who have smoked for many years. Another good thing about quitting now is that your body will immediately start repairing the damage already done by cigarettes.

If you don’t want to quit smoking, you might try convincing your parents that you know what you’re doing and that you’ll be alright. The evidence against the real dangers of smoking will make this a difficult argument for you, though. Your best plan might be to try to work out a deal with your parents so that they stop lecturing you and you can continue smoking. Perhaps they will stop preaching if you agree to smoke only in your room and to be very cautious when you do so. Let’s face it, cigarette smoke is bothersome to some people and can be a source of fire in the home. So perhaps your parents will be more flexible if you promise to follow some special rules for smoking at home. Your chances of making some kind of deal with your parents has a lot to do with your age. They are more likely to allow a 17-year-old to smoke at home than a 13-year-old. Try to understand their thanking. At 13 you’re still so close to being a child, but at 17 you’re almost an adult. You will also be more effective with your bargaining if you and your parents already have a good relationship and if you tend to be responsible and trustworthy in other matters.

We cannot guarantee that the arguments and lectures will stop. Hopefully you and your parents can arrive at a compromise. But, they will probably still try to persuade you to quit smoking simply because they love you and cigarettes are hazardous to your health. If they still refuse to allow you to smoke, you’ll have no choice but to quit — at least at home. That decision may bring about more hassles from your parents though, and you’ll have to decide if smoking is worth all the trouble. When you choose to do something in life, you must also accept the consequences of your actions.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)


Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.