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Preempting the New Year’s Resolution Madness - #1 Quit Smoking, Before You Start
 
By Kayla Lemar
Teen Scribe
 
It's 2011.  And with it has come the long list of New Year's Resolutions each of us drafted during December.

While drudging up a list of my own I did a little research on what everyone else in the world wanted to do with their 2011.  I found twelve priority resolutions that year after year people post on the web, write in their diaries, and paint on their bedroom walls: #1 quit smoking, #2 lose weight, #3 manage debt, #4 help others, #5 enjoy life more, #6 learn more, #7 get organized, #8 fall in love, #9 spend time with family and friends, #10 get a better job, #11 manage stress, and #12 travel.  
 
Twelve must be a lucky number, because Professer Wiseman of the book Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives reports only 12% of us keep the New Year’s Resolutions we make.
 
Why the low success rate?  Well, in that list are two types of resolutions: a) you have a problem that needs fixing, and b) you want to do something you’re not doing.  Both of those are hard knocks, because a) changing something you’ve made part of your identity is difficult, and b) so is adding something to your identity that you don’t have room for.

Then I made an exciting discovery: some of us are still young!  We’re so young that we don’t have to struggle through the negativity and identity crisis adults do to fix some of those things that need fixing.  We’re also young enough to keep room for the things that adults are always wanting to add. Us young ones can preempt the New Year's Resolution madness!
 
So, teens, let’s start with #1: Quit smoking.  Since 90% of smokers start as kids, and 3,900 kids start every day, I won’t waste any time with the answer:
 
Don’t start smoking.
 
Avoid cigarettes at all costs.  Walk on the other side of the street if an un-smoked pack is lying on the sidewalk.
 
Put a blindfold on when you walk into the gas station, or squint at the cashier when you’re buying bubble gum so you can avoid seeing the cigarettes behind her.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter if she thinks you have a lazy eye or a nasty twitch.  It’s okay.
 
Sounds simple, right?  Good, because it is.
 
If you’re still not 100% sure, let’s go through a decision making process together.  Let’s list all the positives and negatives we can think of.  Why do I want to become a smoker?  Why do I want tobacco, gasoline, and tar rolled in a piece of paper becoming part of my identity?  Feel free to add bullets to the lists I’ll begin for us:  


Positives:

- I feel mature, tough, cool.

- Cigarettes are a signature for mature, tough, cool kids.

- My role model smokes.  I want to be just like him/her.

- I lose weight, or stay thin.

- They make me mellow.

- I feel relaxed after I smoke, until I start craving another one at least.
 
Negatives:
 
- Cigarettes can be as addictive as cocaine or heroine.  Some of us are trapped by the first one.

- I’ll be spending an extra $30 a week if I smoke a pack a day.  That’s over $1,500 a year, $105, 000 in my lifetime.

- Cancer.  It kills people, lots of people. It could kill me.

- It will decrease my athletic performance.  And I want to make the soccer team.  I should also think about that if I’m planning on a football scholarship to Ohio State.

- Smoking one pack a day will double the cost of my life insurance as an adult.

- The blinds in all my houses will turn yellow, and the white paint will stain.

- I’ll spend over $2,000 on professional carpet cleaning and painting if I want my house to look and smell nice again.

- Bad breath.  Ever tried kissing someone who smokes?  No, I’m not really all that excited about it, either.

- My health insurance will be $552 more each year of my life.

- I’d be susceptible to high blood pressure, bronchitis, and emphysema.

- House insurance for nonsmokers usually costs 10% less. I’ll lose out.

- My teeth will turn yellow, and Listerine Whitening Strips cost $14, for two weeks, then what?  Professional whitening can cost $200 upwards.

- I will spend $45- $130 more a year for house insurance as a smoker, because cigarettes cause house fires.

- Cigarettes change my natural mood.  I’m not sure I’d know who I really was if I was smoking.

- Social security money will be taken out of my check each month, and if I die young from a smoking-related disease, I’ll never receive any of it back.

- It affects my heart, lung, stomach, and nervous system health.

- Nineteen states have no laws protecting smokers, and a few companies like Union Pacific, Tacamo-Pierce County Health Department, and Alaska Airlines don’t hire smokers.  I wonder if that will become a trend.

- Lung disease.  Have you seen those nasty pictures of blackened lungs?  Eww.

- High end cars for at least $1,000 less if I smoke regularly in them. Interior cleaning still costs $150 extra when I go to sell.

- There’s a good chance my throat could always be itchy.  What if I start on a coughing fit in the middle of my best friend’s wedding reception?

- My smoking costs others, too.  The typical American household pays $630 a year in federal and state taxes because of smoking.
 
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking I’ll go with the cashier thinking I have a nasty twitch.
 
By the way, I did make a New Year’s Resolution.  It is to search out these twelve things adults get stumped on, and fix them now.  Join me, kids, and maybe by 2012 we will have decided on taking a year to avoid the pitfalls of our parents… could save us loads on car insurance. (When we pass the license exam, that is.)


 
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