Parents Should be Ruthless to Stop Teenage Smoking

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Written by Chris Carr

My 17-year-old brother is a smoker. He has been for about a year (probably longer, but that’s what he tells me). I’ve never seen him smoke, because as the brother, I have exclusive rights to pin him to the ground and chide him to, “stop hitting himself” as I guide his own hands into his own head. I mean, if he ever had the plums to light up in front of me.

He knows the facts about smoking. He knows it can give him lung cancer or a litany of other health problems. He knows it makes him smell bad and his fingers yellow. He knows it pisses me off, not to mention our mother (an ex-smoker), to no end. But still he persists. Why?

If you ask him he tells me it’s too hard to quit and all his friends do it. Peer pressure is nothing new, its something most—if not all—of us have had to deal with at some point in our lives. However, the stats should be enough to overcome. According to lung.ca, between 82000 and 99000 teenagers start smoking cigarettes every year. No one can tell me it is from ignorance, they know it’s toxic. Oh they know.

From the lexicon of anti-smoking reading material available online, in the paper, on billboards to the cigarette packaging with black lungs and impotence scares branded abound, they know.

It’s addictive, I’m told, from my sibling (I know it is, but this is one of his excuses), it’s too hard to quit. I’m sure it is. I am not impugning the plight of millions of other people stuck in the same fate as the boy whose mother we share. It must be addicting because I cannot see any pros to the cacophony of cons shouted by people smarter than I.

You see it too, when you drive by any high school, at any time of the day. The kids, far enough away from the school to be legal, huffing smoke and blowing plumes of toxic clouds into the face of their compatriots. There is nothing the school can do, they are off property. The parents, well they can’t be around their kids all day to stop them. They exist, smelly and coughing, in a rift where they are untouchable by the school and out of  the long reach of their parents.

There are programs in place to help smokers of all ages quit. Doctors are able to give information on how smokers can get treatment. There are options like groups, discussion classes, even protocols for addicts (because smokers are addicts, let’s not pull punches now) to get stop-smoking gum, patches and other quitting aids.

However, that’s all fine. But the problem is not access to these things that are prohibiting smokers from quitting, it’s drive. Why would my brother stop smoking? My family’s ridicule and punishments seem to be having no affect, besides how could we know for sure? We have offered treatment, but he is still reluctant.

Here is my point: it is the responsibility of those responsible for the smoker to engage the addiction and make them stop. These guerilla tactics may not work for everyone, however if a loved-one of yours was willfully causing harm to themselves, would you not intervene as the more knowledgeable and able person. This may not work on adults, however for kids who smoke are nothing resembling adult since they made the childish decision to continue smoking.

It may be tough love, but I elect to lead the charge. So, in that light, I elect we declare marshal law on smokers. Do everything in your power to help them, even at the risk of tarnishing a relationship. What is more important, alive acquaintances or dead friends? I for one, will never be okay with my brother smoking, especially at such a young age. Why is everyone else okay with teenagers committing slow suicide? Don’t tell me there isn’t anything you can do.


Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon.ca. Inordinate Ordnance publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.



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