<< Dad, please stop smoking

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L.A. Youth staff writers Amanda, Victor, Chantelle, Wendy and Amy said that even though they know about the dangers of smoking, it can sometimes look appealing.

Editor Amanda Riddle: Does having family members or friends who smoke influence your views of smoking?

Wendy Paniagua, 17, Kennedy HS (Granada Hills): My mom smoked a lot. We would ask, “Where’s mom?” and we’d look for her and she’d be outside smoking. It was giving her health problems and she went to the hospital. She stopped after that. I’ve never really been interested in smoking, seeing my mom do it.

Chantelle Moghadam, 16, Viewpoint School (Calabasas): I have a good friend who smokes and has been smoking for a couple years. He’s tried to stop a couple times but hasn’t been able to. I think one of his parents smokes and maybe that’s why. If one of your family members smokes, that’s the first view you see of smoking. Whereas the first thing I saw was in school where they tell you smoking is bad.

Victor Beteta, 17, University HS: I have friends who smoke. We were in a play together. They’d be outside the auditorium smoking. Every time I’d go outside they’d say, “Do you want to smoke?” I always see commercials that say smoking is bad for you. You see people with holes in their throats and it looks really nasty. I guess they think it’s not going to happen to them.

Editor Mike Fricano: Where do you think your attitudes toward smoking come from?

Amy Fan, 16, Temple City HS: For me it’s school. In first grade the guy who was speaking scared us. He told us not to smoke and he had all these scary demonstrations. Ever since then I was terrified of smoking. Of course now I’m less biased and I have a better view. I’m not going to smoke and I don’t like it but I won’t judge people who choose to do it. That’s their decision.

Amanda Federis, 14, Whitney HS (Cerritos): My dad used to smoke. He always tells me he wishes he hadn’t done it and it probably cut his life short by a little bit. Now he’s really fat because he replaced it with food. He’s always like, “If you start, you don’t want to be like me, you don’t want to be fat when you get older.”

Patricia Chavarria, 19: I don’t want to smoke because I don’t want to let my family down. One day I was in biology class and I saw one of the pictures they had about smoking. It was very clear about all the things that happen. Your fingers and teeth start to get yellow, you can get cancer. I was really freaked out. I took a picture with my phone and I forwarded it to my mom so she could show it to her boyfriend, who smokes, as a reminder about what could happen.

Mike: Have any of you ever been tempted to smoke?

Victor: Since I knew people who would do it, it looked kind of cool I guess. I never got to the point where I did it, but it was always there.

Amy: In the media it honestly does look sort of appealing to me. You see this bad guy on TV and he’s taunting the main character and he’s smoking. Then he blows smoke in the main character’s face and he throws his head back and laughs. It makes a person seem powerful. I would think, “Smoking, it seems kind of cool.” But if you consider all of the things that could happen to you after smoking, it really isn’t.

Jessica Marin, 16, Culver City HS: I have this big poster of Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She has a cigarette and she’s my idol. So at times—not that I ever wanted to—I thought it looked cool. The cigarette looks pretty.

Christian Santiago, 17, University HS: There are programs telling you it’s bad for you but you see people around you doing it and you get used to seeing people smoking.

Patricia: Sometimes it was tempting when I’d go to punk shows. But I still wouldn’t do it because of the thoughts of the consequences.

Mike: If one of your good friends started smoking, what do you think you’d say to them to try to get them to stop, or would you even try?

Jessica: Did you guys watch America’s Next Top Model? Well, there was this one photo shoot where they did the effects of smoking. What really sticks to me is what it will do to your skin and teeth. I would bring that up to a friend, especially a girl. Look what could happen to you. Your teeth are going to get yellow, and all the effects on the skin.

Christian: I would attempt but I wouldn’t go to an extreme point where I’m angry with them. It’s their decision but there’s that factor where you care about them.

Chantelle: I think if my best friend started smoking I’d try to talk them out of it at first. If they didn’t listen to me after that I’d probably be a little more forceful. A person who goes to my school was at a party and he threw his friend’s cigarettes in the pool. I think I’d have to do something like that because just talking isn’t going to do anything because they’ve already decided.

Patricia: I just found out my best friend smokes. I was shocked. I gave him a ride home. I asked him, “What’s new?” “Well, I started smoking.”  I was like, “How often?” “Sometimes a whole pack a day.” When I dropped him off, he said, “As a memory of me” and gave me a cigarette. I’d never held one. As soon as I got home I threw it away because I knew I’d get in trouble.

Chantelle: Even though smoking is bad I can definitely understand how once you’re addicted it can be incredibly hard to quit. Because I’m addicted to caffeine. People tell me, “That’s not good for you.” My boyfriend tried to get me to stop. I don’t listen to him. If I don’t have coffee for three or four days, I get headaches, I’m really tired. It’d be even worse with cigarettes. I can’t even imagine.