Should I smoke or should I not smoke? It can be a tough decision. Sooner or later someone is going to offer you a cigarette and you will have to decide whether or not you want to try it. It can be helpful to think about what you might do in this situation before it happens.

Should I smoke?

Many kids feel pressured to smoke because their friends do and they want to fit in. Some young people decide to try smoking a few times and then choose not to do it again. Some young people get hooked on smoking and continue to smoke.

Smoking can be dangerous. In addition to the health problems that smoking can cause, it only takes a short time to become addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. You will know you are addicted to smoking when you find yourself craving cigarettes and feeling nervous without them.

In addition to peer pressure, there are lots of reasons why young people try smoking, including:

  • They think it helps them cope with stress and strong emotions
  • They think it is a way to take a break
  • They think it will help them lose weight
  • They think it makes them look “cool” or grown-up
  • Their family or friends smoke
  • They are addicted to it

If you smoke, you may be thinking about quitting. Quitting smoking has almost immediate health benefits – and the longer you don’t smoke, the more the health benefits you’ll see. If you are thinking about quitting, here are just a few of the things you can do to make it easier:

  • Talk to your family doctor about the best way to quit
  • Quit with a friend
  • Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit and post it in a place where you will see it frequently
  • Tell other people that you are going to quit and ask them to support you
  • Choose a “quit date” and stick to it
  • Join a support group or form one of your own
  • Make a list of all the things you could buy with the money you will be saving
  • Reward yourself for your success

Most importantly, don’t give up if you have setbacks. Most people have to quit more than once before they finally stop smoking. Just try again when you are ready.

If you want more information about smoking or support with quitting, please call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

Should I not smoke?

If you decide that you don’t want to smoke, try to think about different ways to say “no thanks” – this can make it easier to say no when someone offers you a cigarette.

Some of the reasons non-smokers give for their decision include:

  • Smoking is gross – it causes yellow fingers and teeth, bad breath and smelly clothes and hair. It can also cause shortness of breath and decreased performance in sports.
  • Smoking is dangerous to your health – the earlier you start to smoke the harder it is to quit and the greater risk it is to your health. Here are just some of the health problems associated with smoking:
    • Cancer
    • Heart disease
    • Respiratory problems
    • Lung damage
    • Problems with pregnancy
    • Damage, decay and disease to teeth and gums
    • Nicotine addiction
  • Smoking is dangerous to the people around you – second-hand smoke can cause increased coughing and chest discomfort, lung infection, ear infections, asthma and cancer in non-smokers.

It can be tough to go against the flow, especially if you think your friends won’t want to hang around with you if you don’t try smoking. But remember, good friends should understand and respect you if you make different choices than they do.

Last Reviewed September 2012 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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