There are probably thousands of stories similar to this one that go without being noticed every year, but to actually see and have it explained to me in this manner gets me furious with every word I read.
A young child, but old enough to speak in clear sentences, was taken to the emergency room by his parents. The child could barely say his own name, and sucked in his chest with every breath he took. He was trying to explain to the doctors that he was an asthma patient and usually his inhaler does the trick, but one morning he just felt awful. While there could have been many reasons for this, the doctor claimed he was smelling cigarettes, and his suspicions were correct, as the young boy’s teenage mutant ninja turtle jacket wreaked of them. The doctor then turned the parents to confirm that they were the ones who smoked around the child, and they claimed that they usually smoked outside of the house, but they did sometimes smoke inside after the child had gone to sleep. The child was okay, since he was given steroid medication to enhance his breathing capabilities once his asthma had calmed down, but the doctor said that he will be back at some point, since neither of the parents said they would stop smoking, even after such a terrible incident. The parents claimed that they had started smoking in their early teens and were addicted by age eighteen.
I do not know about you, but this story makes me extremely angry. Why? Where do I begin?! There are many reasons, but I am not sure if the parents’ blatant disregard for their child’s health, especially with asthma, the fact that despite them having to take their child to the emergency room because of their foolishness, they are still continuing to smoke, or that they are continuing to endanger their child’s health because of it is the primary reason.
The same doctor was saying that a lot of these people who are still smoking in their mid thirties and older begin smoking in their teens, and that the age for smoking should be raised to twenty-one. Many studies show that people who do not begin smoking in their teens do not ever end up being addicted to cigarettes. I personally think this idea is great, because teenagers are very immature and will do whatever it takes to fit in to a group without thinking twice, and smoking is a big part of being “cool” in some cliques around the high school age. Some may question why I think this idea is good, since I stated in another article related to alcohol that parents should let their children know somewhat what they are getting into, but this is the difference. Drinking alcohol, even at the underage teenage years where it is seen as a cool thing to do, is not done everyday. It is usually done on Fridays and Saturdays, and maybe the rare Tuesday evening. Also, even though there may be some addictive ingredients in alcoholic beverages, they are not nearly as strong as nicotine, and the infamous hangover and the dehydrated, death-like feeling that comes with it the next day will prevent teenagers from drinking everyday. However, smoking is done daily, and people are capable of going through multiple packs a day if the addiction is severe enough. On top of all of this, there is one more argument I would like to identify to finalize my point on the matter. Parents are in a rather difficult situation with alcohol, since their children may be seeing them drink it all the time and they seem fine. However, with cigarettes, a good parent should be able to explain to their children that there is a reason it is done outside and away from them where the smoke cannot reach, why they are doing it all the time, and why they may be short of breath often or unable to run short distances without becoming extremely tired.
Along with the restrictions on where you are allowed to smoke being in place already, the no smoking zones in certain areas, the raise in price of cigarettes, the pictures of what cigarettes do to your body being on the packaging of cigarettes and all the products and programs in place to help people stop smoking, I think that raising the legal age to smoke cigarettes is yet another step in the right direction to keeping cigarette smoking to a minimum in order to have healthier human beings and a stronger and more durable environment.