Smoking Is Cool. . . . Not!

Smoking Is Cool. . . . Not!

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Smoking Is Cool. . . . Not!

There’s right, and there’s wrong. You get to do one or the other. You do one, and you’re living. You do the other, and you may be walking around, but you’re as dead as a beaver hat.

John Wayne

Last summer, I went to Los Angeles to visit my cousin, Victoria. My dad had been outside smoking a cigarette when my aunt called him into the house. He left his cigarette on the front porch steps so he could continue smoking it when he came back out.

My cousin was curious to see what smoking was really like, so she picked up the cigarette to check it out. She asked me if I had ever smoked before. “No way,” I sneered. I couldn’t believe what she did next. Victoria put the cigarette in her mouth and sucked in smoke. The next thing you know, she’s coughing her head off. She looked like she was about to throw up, but she still stretched her hand out toward me to offer me the cigarette. “Come on, try it,” she said. “It won’t hurt you.”

I just grabbed the stupid thing out of her hand. Then I threw it on the ground and smashed it with the heel of my shoe. I did it so fast I didn’t think about what Dad would do when he came back out. Just then, my dad came back outside and looked at the place where he’d left his cigarette.

“Where’d my cigarette go?” he asked. I just stood there, not wanting to admit what I had done, or what my cousin had done before that. But I knew that this was the moment of truth. I took a deep breath and began to explain.

I told my dad that I couldn’t really believe that he would choose to smoke. I was sure he knew how bad it was, so why did he do it? He said that he started a long time ago, when he was just a teenager. They didn’t know how bad it was for you back then. Now he was so addicted that he couldn’t stop. It was just too hard to quit.

Here was a grown man, my own dad, admitting there was something that he couldn’t control that was probably slowly killing him. I stood there in disbelief. I had always thought of my dad as the strongest man I knew. Then I remembered this commercial that I had seen on TV. There was this lady who was so addicted to cigarettes that she’d gotten really sick. But she still couldn’t stop smoking. They had to cut a hole in her throat for her to breathe, and she was still smoking through the hole! It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. Standing in front of my dad, I began to cry. What if that happened to him?

Ever since that day, I think my dad has tried to cut back on cigarettes. I’m still telling him how much I love him and don’t want to lose him because of smoking. I know one thing: I want to live a long time. And I don’t want to be sick or out of control of my life, the way that lady was. I’ll never smoke. I’ll take fresh air, thank you.

Valeria Soto, age 12

[EDITORS’ NOTE: To learn more about the effects of smoking, contact the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids at their Web site: www.tobaccofreekids.org or call 800-284-KIDS to get involved in their campaign against the tobacco industry.

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