Advice by Sophie Law // Photograph by Emma Katka
I’ve always thought that people who smoked were either depressed, older adults, or low class bogans, but lately I’ve realised that it is quite a common thing for older teenagers and young adults. I’ve been brought up thinking that smoking is a bad thing, but now I really don’t know what to think as lots of people that I know smoke together for I would assume the image. They are lovely, interesting, and INTELLIGENT people but I just feel so confused into considering why they choose this lifestyle choice. I’ve noticed that most of these people are the creative/free spirited types, people who I would least expect to partake in this obviously detrimental(?) act who have been educated of its effects from a young age. Could you please provide some insight into casual smoking and whether it is an okay thing?
Dear Confused Teen,
Firstly, thank you so much for writing to us, we love hearing from you and will endeavor to help you to the best of our ability.
Smoking is one of those socially accepted habits that when you actually stop and think about it, it seems very bizarre. Inhaling toxic smoke and chemicals into your lungs sounds pointless, right? These days, most everyone who smokes is aware of its danger to our bodies—it’s hard to be oblivious to anti-smoking advertisements, warnings on packages, and taxes on cigarettes. However, as humans we often do things that are bad for us without thinking of the long-term effects–for example eating a lot of fast food!
The thing about smoking is that people who smoke cigarettes come in all different shapes and sizes. There is no one stereotype of a smoker and that’s because there are actually so many different reasons why people choose to smoke. Some of these reasons may be peer pressure, social integration, stress and anxiety relief, the feeling of rebellion, cultural standards, or just because they enjoy it—similar to people’s reasons for drinking alcohol, for example. It’s important to be wary of making snap-judgments about people based on our stereotypes—such as assuming someone who smokes must be less intelligent than you, for example. It makes us less empathetic people and can be harmful and hurtful to others and to society at large! Ultimately, people have reasons for doing all sorts of things that we may not agree with or understand, and that’s perfectly okay; we have to accept that and remember that we can never know what is going through people’s heads or what they are experiencing in their lives.
It’s really important to acknowledge the difference between a bad thing and a bad person. Smoking certainly isn’t good for one’s health, but that doesn’t mean the people doing it are bad people! Plenty of lovely, wonderful, respectable people smoke, and they are no less lovely, wonderful, or deserving of your respect because they smoke!! We all have bad habits that certain other people could never understand. On the flip side, just because a person is good, doesn’t mean what they are doing is good. SO just because someone you may respect and look up to smokes doesn’t mean you should. You’re right, smoking is detrimental to your health, so I would certain advise you to steer clear.
Hopefully that provides you with some of the insight you were seeking. Thanks again for writing to us!
Sophie & the Ramona Team[share]