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Up in Smoke Transcript
I was tuned in to The Real World one night and it suddenly struck me that everyone in the cast of MTV’s hit show about the supposedly “real” lives of young people today was smoking. Not awkward, peer bonding puffs, but fully, addictive drags. Just like the kind, unfortunately, that I learned to do years ago in high school, back when the cool thing was to roll up your pack of unfiltered cigarettes in the sleeve of your tee shirt, so that you had both hands free to comb your d.a.
The first Surgeon General’s Report on the subject really put a crimp in the joy of smoking in the early 1960s. And until I finally kicked the habit twenty years later I could never rest easily with this costly, consuming, and increasingly less popular addiction. In fact, I gave it up at the impassioned request of my then teenage daughter–when I’d asked her what she’d like for her birthday, she told me the only present I could give her was to stop smoking. And wise, outraged teenagers (especially those from families with smokers) have always played a steady part in this healthy reform.
But now the habit is back again, by some estimates giving us nearly 3,000 new teenage smokers a day. It’s been brought to us largely by indifference, affluence, and the irresponsibility of film makers, among others, who have been putting cigarettes in their characters’ (especially their young characters’) hands for a decade now. I’m convinced, in order to give them something to do with their fingers, and to float clouds of risk-taking nonchalance above their heads–also to help finance their pictures through strategic product placement.
But there’s something new blowing in the wind, especially for parents who are watching their children take up this old habit–one of these promising gusts of fresh air comes to us in the form of a new book by Michael Mannion called How to Help Your Teenager Stop Smoking, which appears this month from Welcome Rain Publishers. Mannion, a well-known medical writer, provides important information for parents about how to understand the problem’s dynamics today–at a time when many teenagers stubbornly insist that they would rather be thin smokers than fat quitters. Mannion also offers sound advice about how parents can help, and, most importantly, how teenagers can to reclaim their own bodies and psyches.