Smoking: like drinking ice water?

A high school student featured this morning on National Public Radio said she started smoking cigarettes at age 13 (and recently quit, after much difficulty). Interestingly enough, she compared the initial experience to the feeling of re-hydration.

“They make you feel better when you first start,” Kindra Tanner told the reporter. “You feel good — refreshed, like drinking water after running all day.”

Interesting. I thought it was mostly about imageor weight loss or nerves. Shows you how much I know.

The radio piece reported that teen smoking rates have leveled out at 20 percent, after a decade of decline. Jonathan Klein, a pediatrician at the University of Rochester, said shows like Sex and the City  — where the main character lights up in stressful situations — are partly to blame.

Why do you think the decline in teen smoking has stalled? Will kids always smoke, even if they know the health risks?

image from waynewhuang’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Why not segregate smoking students at different schools – so their undesirable addiction is not exposed to the normal kids?

    I do have experience with smoking adolescents over the last 30 years. It is a very reliable indicator of behavior problems nowadays. It’s one of the real reasons some workplaces have gone to “smokers need not apply” – that policy screens out people you don’t want to have around (Unless smoking is the norm for the occupation in question).

    Juvenile Hall inmates, Jail inmates, Mental patients, Rehab patients and Prison inmates smoke like chimneys. It’s an excellent marker…

  • Sue

    Just be sure you aren’t relying 100% on your marker, Nextset.

    My mother has never smoked a cigarette in her life. But she’s been in and out of various mental institutions every couple of years since 1964.

    I started smoking at age 20, and quit within a year. Joined the Air Force at 22, and started smoking again because the nicotine buzz was the only *legal* substance that could keep me awake from 4:30am when I started my day until 10:30pm when I finally collapsed. I quit again when I finished tech school – and got a sensible daily schedule at my permanent base. I started (again) when my first marriage broke up. I quit (again) when I finished my enlistment. I started for the forth time when I accepted a job in CA and my husband needed to stay in the Midwest for several months after I had to move across the county. And I quit for the last time when I became pregnant with my older son.

    If you depend on smoking criteria, you’d have had to reject me – the stable, responsible employee who has been supporting her family on one income for 17 years – and you’d have accepted my bipolar schizophrenic parent as the better alternative. Status as a smoker would have been a terrible marker.

    I have lots more anecdotes about smokers who are skilled and effective workers, but I won’t burden this blog with any more. And I doubt that tattoos or piercings are reliable markers for much either…

    Yes, Katy, the buzz from cigarettes is quite real and enjoyable, at least until the smoker becomes habituated. I didn’t have much trouble with quitting each time I decided to do so. For me, the difficulty was finding some other means of feeling good when my life was overloaded with stresses, and not using tobacco for my coping mechanism.

  • Nextset

    Sue: I’m not relying on any one marker but rather a profile – and remember – remember – we are not talking about individuals. Or at least I don’t when I’m discussing these sort of things. I’m talking about groups of people.

    Smoking is a reliable indicator of trouble especially when you are dealing with a California Population of adolescents. In combination with other warning flags your confidence in prediction of trouble gets stronger.

    When you are running a business – or running a school for that matter – you deal in profiling and odds of success so that you don’t run the place into the ground. This is why nursing programs reject ceratin applicants, even poor law schools won’t let anybody in with a LSAT below 30-50% and why well run banks and credit unions don’t indulge in sub prime lending.

    Oh, and by the way, Tattoos are also great markers of the lifestyle and attitudes of the people who have them. Especially the facial & neck tattoos. A few days ago I ran into a high schooler who had his arms covered with various cigarette burns. He claimed they were done by his “friends”. They are certainly self inflicted. With a jacket on you would not have picked up how disturbed he is so quickly. Nice of him to mark himself so potential employers and friends are fairly warned.

    Back to smoking, I’m not saying it’s evil, that’s not the point. It is a marker for the way the person involved is – in combination with other data, you can draw inferences.

    Credit scores tell you volumes about a person also.

    Do I think schools should tolerate smoking in primary, middle school, high schools? Generally no. There are places for smoking adolescents, just not in a good school with normal kids. Do I believe adolescents have freedom to do whatever they want? No, I don’t.

  • http://sexandthecity-dvdbox.co.uk Lian Sorensen

    In the last scene of Sex and the City, the movie, Samantha was wearing a nude, crystal covered short dress when the girls and her are having their cosmos. If someone knows which designer had made that dress, please let me know.

  • http://www.reddit.com/r/jobs/comments/1b2195/cna_job_description_ever_wonder_what_a_cna_is/ Ahmad Pindell

    Becoming a CNA is probably the best things I ever did for myself.