My Decision to Begin Smoking Cigarettes (And Why It’s Advisable to Avoid)

Like many teens, I thought smoking would make me look mature and cool in high school. But inhaling those first harsh puffs of smoke would eventually launch a lifelong addiction. What began as an innocent attempt to fit in quickly spiraled into a daily habit I’ve now struggled to quit for over a decade.

TRYING THAT FIRST CIGARETTE

I still vividly remember the sights, smells, and tastes of that first cigarette at a sophomore-year party. The flickering orange lighter. The smell of tobacco as I brought it to my lips. An immediate burning sensation in my throat as I inhaled. I coughed violently, my eyes watering. But I played it cool and took another drag. This time, a smooth, slightly sweet tobacco flavor filled my mouth. As the nicotine hit my system, I felt a dizzy rush of adrenaline. Now I understood the appeal – it gave me a buzz. By cigarette three, the coughing subsided and I started to enjoy the lightheaded high. Little did I know how quickly addiction could take hold.

BECOMING A REGULAR SMOKER

After that party, smoking remained a weekend social activity for a while. But soon I bought my first pack of Camel Lights and was smoking a few cigarettes daily. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal since I didn’t smoke that much. But each cigarette made my young brain crave nicotine more. Whenever I tried quitting, irritability and restlessness kicked in within a couple of days. I quickly realized I was becoming dependent on cigarettes both physically and mentally.

In college, smoking became deeply intertwined with my social life and daily routines. Taking smoke breaks between classes bonded me to new friends. Lighting up while drinking became automatic. Smoking served as my quick relief from any stress. I went from just smoking socially to needing several cigarettes a day just to feel normal.

FAILED QUIT ATTEMPTS

Now in my 30s, I’m still hooked on a pack a day. I’ve tried quitting cold turkey, slowly cutting back, nicotine gum, patches, vaping – but nothing has worked long-term. The brain associations I’ve built up over the years make smoking an automatic response to any activity or emotion. And the nicotine withdrawal symptoms are debilitating – intense cravings, depression, anxiety, and lack of focus. Relapsing feels like the only way to get temporary relief.

Last year, a bad case of bronchitis scared me into quitting again. The painful wheezing and coughing was a wake-up call. But after two months smoke-free, work stress sent me back to old habits. The moment I lit up, it frightened me how quickly my brain reacted with that familiar dizzy pleasure.

WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER START SMOKING

If you’re a teen who thinks smoking is no big deal, don’t make the same mistake I did. Nicotine addiction sets in faster than you realize. According to the CDC, 80% of adult smokers started smoking before age 18. Breaking the addiction early is critical.

Instead of smoking, find healthier ways to manage stress and anxiety. Exercise, meditation, talking to a friend, or even chewing gum can be substituted. Getting support from resources like smokefree.gov also boosts your chances of quitting.

Take it from me – don’t put yourself through a lifetime of struggling to quit. The short-term social benefits of smoking simply aren’t worth the long-term health risks. Your future self will thank you.