Putting Things In Perspective


I’m Tina. I’m the 15 year old girl who smokes. Shock! Horror! Seriously, if you really are that much shocked or horrified you really need to get a life!

My mother has written a couple of articles here about the fact that I smoke. She got mixed feedback about it. We left some of the more normal replies up but there were a few that weren’t “normal”. There were a few that were insulting and abusive to my mother. We deleted them. For quite a while I wanted to write a reply about it but my mum said no. But I showed her the text for this and she agreed I could post it. If you disagree with anything I say here you are free to say what you want as long as it is polite and not abusive.

If I am going to say anything here it should be honest, so here I go… It is not really unusual for people my age to smoke where I live. About half my friends who are the same age as me smoke. Before you think it, I don’t smoke just because they do! I will try to explain why I smoke a bit later. I will admit that by now I do smoke a bit more and a bit more regularly than most people my age. During school days I smoke about 5 or 6 cigarettes in the day. At weekends I smoke more because I meet my friends in cafes where you can smoke and I sometimes go out in the evening. Also my boyfriend smokes. So to tell the truth, I smoke a whole pack at the weekends or sometimes more.

I am lucky in some ways that I have two sets of parents. I live with my mum and her partner Cassie and they both give me an allowance. My Dad also gives me an allowance. On Saturdays I have started working in a shop and i get paid for that. I also sometimes do volunteer work in a zoo for which I don’t get paid. But all this means I have enough money to do the things i want. Actually I save most of my money but I still have enough to buy two packets of cigarettes in a week and pay for coffees and clothes and go out. Plus I get cigarettes from my boyfriend and from my family sometimes too.

So why do I smoke? Good question! I know it can be unhealthy, but I will tell you what I think about that later… Well, I always thought I would smoke. I could blame my mum and dad and cassie because they smoke but that would not be fair. I can’t prove it, but I know for sure I would have smoked even if they didn’t. I always wanted to. I never thought “I wonder if I will start smoking”. I always thought “I wonder when I will start smoking”. I admit I kind of like the image part of it. But I would never do anything just for image. The simple thing is I just like the feeling of smoking. One day I was at a party with some friends. Cigarettes were being offered around. I took one. I was a bit nervous because I always thought I would smoke but suddenly I thought, “Shit, what happens if I hate it?!” Luckily I didn’t hate it. I knew in that moment that I would be smoking regularly from that time on. If my mum had forbidden me, it would have complicated my life but I would probably still have smoked. I’m glad I didn’t have to lie to her. Funnily enough, it isn’t really the taste of smoke that is the best thing at first; it is just the feeling it gives you. There is nothing like it. Then after a while of experimenting you get to know the tastes of different brands and the ones you like best.

Maybe you think I’m just a silly rebellious teenager who is going through a trend or a phase. Well that just isn’t true. I think my mum would say I am pretty well behaved as far as is possible for teenagers! I hate following fashions and acting like a sheep. I am a bit shy most of the time. I like school and I’m a good student. I work pretty hard on my studies. I used to feel a bit young for my age and then suddenly for some reason I overtook a lot of people and now i would say I am more mature than average for my age. I will admit that smoking makes me feel a bit more grown up. Is that wrong? I don’t know. I don’t really see why it should be.

One thing about smoking I have realized is that it feels like part of me. It feels natural. If I have a morning when I can’t smoke i feel grumpy and bad tempered. Maybe I am a little bit addicted already but to be honest I like that feeling. Being addicted doesn’t mean you can’t stop; it just means it would be more difficult to stop if you wanted to. I don’t want to. I think we all have an idea of who we are. I always knew I would smoke. Just like I always knew that one day I will get tattoos. I know the kinds of places I will hang out in, the kind of people I will like, the kinds of things i will do, the kinds of job I will do. The kind of person i will be… And smoking is part of that, and it is completely my choice.

I seriously don’t care at all about it being unhealthy. It is frightening to think I could get cancer. I know the chance is higher because I smoke. And probably like my mum and dad and cassie I will be smoking for a long time…  I just think it is stupid to not do things because of what might happen one day in the distant future. If you think I’d feel differently if I knew somebody who had cancer you are wrong. I have known a few…

It is more about how I see life. Some people think we live more than once; that we get reincarnated many times… I don’t know. It’s a nice idea but I am not convinced it is true. I think we can only be sure about this one life we have now. Probably this is the only chance we get. So here is what I think. We don’t know how long we will live. I could be a very good person, never drink, never smoke and always stay healthy and still a bus could crash into me or a meteorite could land on my house and kill me! We just don’t know. There are no guarantees. But it is a bit deeper than that. Last year I saw a picture of a tiny little boy who was a refugee and he got washed up dead on a beach. That was his life! His short and sad life… There are some children born in Africa who will die of illness or because there is no food before they become teenagers. There are some children in my own country who will be born into abusive families and will get beaten or even raped all the time. That is their life and it is very sad.

I am lucky to be safe, healthy and happy for now and live in a country where there are not many problems. While I have this luck I will make the most of it and do all the things I want to do while I can. I think it would be insulting to those who don’t have the chance of doing all these things if i just tried to be safe and well all the time so I could live as long as possible. I don’t believe anything or anybody is totally good or evil but I do care about people and animals and i will do a job that helps them. But I will also smoke and drink and probably do other things that people don’t think are right. It’s my life!

If you want to write something here saying that my logic and reasoning are all wrong and smoking is a terrible thing and i should be more sensible, please go right ahead. But not until you feel strongly enough to also write something about refugee children dying at sea, people starving to death in Africa, animals being hunted to extinction and global warming making the future dangerous for everyone.

People need some perspective.