Looking behind clouds of smoke at teenage smoking

By Alberto Lugo Solís

; Knight Ridder Newspapers

Look around. Now more than ever, it has become obvious. It's everywhere.

Teenage smoking is more visible than at any other time. While some people think that smokers, namely teenagers, pick up the habit as a result of peer pressure, others disagree. Smoking is as individual as any other habit.

For those who are addicted:perhaps not to the substance itself, but to the habit:it provides a sense of escape, even if only for a few minutes.


"I don't smoke for anybody else. I don't smoke because it's the cool or trendy thing to do," said Shari Bisnaught, a freshman at the University of South Florida. "It gives me something to do.

"When I'm at work and the phones are going crazy and the entire place is in chaos, I can step outside for a break and leave on a trip with my conscience accompanying me.

"My body remains until I return. Something as simple as a cigarette can offer you, for one moment, a second to drop whatever it is that you're doing and reflect. Some people need that form of stimulation," she said.

Contrary to the notion that smoking is accepted and even admired by youth, teenage smokers are frowned upon, by adults and by their peers alike. Many feel they have become part of a select group, looked down upon by "non-smokers."

With the stylish image the media sometimes portrays as characteristic of smokers, it is no wonder so many turn to the habit.

However, parents should not feel they have failed if their kids take up smoking. Their children's habits have nothing to do with them. It is their decision and, however wrong it may be, their choice as individuals.

Alberto Lugo Solís; is a student at Coral Springs Charter School in Coral Springs, Fla.

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