It’s so fun to smoke when you’re a Kid.

Via Waylon Lewis
on May 10, 2011
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How do we get kids to stop smoking?

Why do young’uns love to smoke so much? Is it a way of saying they’re adults? Is it a symbolic counter-balance to their seemingly limitless youth?

I just saw photos of a family friend, who can’t be more than 18, smoking on Facebook. That’s all well and good, kids smoke I know…but…I felt rather paternal or brotherly and had that good ol’instinct to tell her to stop.

Why do kids love smoking, so? Because you’re kinda saying, Eff You, Immortality? I may feel young and perfect and have no wrinkles, but I can eff my body up every day! Drugs! Alcohol! Smoking!

It’s dumb. It looks good. It’s bad. It’s wrong. Momma wouldn’t approve. All of that equals a recipe for cool.

Only idiots smoke more than a little. Case in point:

That said, in my defense, I only ever really smoked one a day, or one a week. In my smoking prime, I smoked as much as three or four a day, if I was out drinking. It was always a kinda special thing, and for whatever reason I never felt addicted. When I got sick, I’d stop.

So: smoking a little—if you’re smoking with some sense of sacredness and mindfulness, and you’re smoking something that’s natural and not laced with rat poision as are most “normal” cigarettes…well—that’s cool, too.


But now, I’m an old man. When I see kids smoking, I want to say, ah, skip that phase. It’s stinky and dumb and cancer sucks and life is awesome.

So how do we reach our younger brothers and sisters and friends, without making smoking even cooler and rebellious in the process?

Bonus…the (in)famous video:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


7 Responses to “It’s so fun to smoke when you’re a Kid.”

  1. Mill says:

    I think it is because there are so very few positive milestones to adulthood in our culture, so kids make them up: smoking, drinking, piercings, tattoos. If we had rituals and ceremonies that were meaningful, I think kids would not be forced to invent them. How else except for a drivers license and drinking can we deviate between childhood and adulthood?

  2. anon says:

    that outfit is BANGIN'.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Organic, fair-trade crack is better than the stuff that feeds drug wars and is laced with crap! Not much better…but much better! ~ W.

  4. Kath says:

    Smoking is gross. No matter how old you are.

  5. J.A. Roney says:

    I "smoked" early–didn't inhale much at first, then found the little tobacco-packed elegant Virginia Slims Menthol to be oh-so-very-cool.

    Fortunately, at an early-ish age, I started to be bothered ny the burden of wondering if I had enough cigarettes to get me through a night of drinking (and if I ran out did I have cig-cash and would my brand be available?), did I have a fueled lighter and would ashtrays be available? Not long after that, I started to realise how my clothing reaked, yes, reaked of stale cigarette odor when throwing in a load of wash–what newly emancipated-from-childhood young woman (who liked expensive perfume) wants to smell like that? Plus I noticed little things like how good the first few puffs with morning coffee would taste, only to feel, literally, my pulse pounding uncomfortably after the nicotine really hit home in the struggling bloodstream. Yuck!

    One more to follow…

  6. J.A. Roney says:

    I can only hope, that the kids who (and there will always be these kids) feel the need to find themselves through deviant behavior, all too often which compromises their good health, will see the "light" of really bad skin in the older-smoking set, tire of being downright stinky and desire to die a death other than suffocation or heart disease.

    Apologies for the length!!

  7. Dan says:

    If I get a chance to just talk for a minute to teens I see smoking, I usually ask them something about "doesn't it seem weird about time going faster" each year. Just chit chat, easy and light. Then I usually remark that before they know it, they will be 20. Usually I can get a smile. Then as I walk on, I mention that "by the way, I've never met anyone who was 20 who said, "I'm really glad I started smoking". I know you think you can quit anytime you want, so you might as well do it now." Does it work? Probably not at all. But I feel like I ought try and plant one seed of doubt without resorting to a lecture or a confrontational conversation about cancer and so forth, especially since they are people I don't generally know. Never had anyone tell me to mind my own business. Maybe I get flipped off behind my back. I don't know. I don't look.