Thursday, November 15, 2012

One Drag, Lifelong Impression

I don’t smoke. I believe I have my big sister to thank for that, at least in part.

When I was little, maybe 7 or 8 years old, she was smoking with her friend while our parents were gone -- presumably hiding the smoking from them, since she was only about 16. She offered me her cigarette, to try it.

Curious, I took the lit cigarette and did what I thought you were supposed to do, what I had seen my dad do hundreds, maybe thousands of times. It was smoky, foul-tasting, and pretty unpleasant.

Then I coughed.

“Yuck!” or something similar probably blurted out of my gagging, smoke-filled mouth.

Did that simple little move dissuade me from taking up smoking in my later years, when some teens around me picked it up? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I did not like it.
Yuck indeed.

When she offered me that Marlboro, did she know what she was doing? Was she ensuring her little brother wouldn’t tell on her because now he was an accomplice? Or did she understand that giving me a bad first impression of cigarettes would prevent me from succumbing to them one day? Was she already hopelessly hooked on them? Did she realize that most adult smokers (9 out of 10) started as teens? Did she know if I started I might not stop, since half of all smokers try to quit but less than 1 in 20 permanently escape tobacco’s grip?

I don’t know what she knew, or what motivated her that day, and I can’t ask her.
She died of lung cancer several years ago.

I wish something could have prevented that. Maybe if she, too, gagged on a cigarette the first time she tried one, she’d still be around today.
By Brent Annear
Media Relations Manager, Texas Medical Association -- and little brother to my big sister

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Let's all remember our friends and loved ones who are no longer with us, because in some part due to cigarette smoking... a father, a dear friend. Write your legislator and ask them to support legislation making Texas a smoke free working state!

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