Smoking: The Burning Question

16 Jul

By Akshara Sekar

Audrey Hepburn has been a movie icon for many girls. Her style, poise, and petite figure have made her role model. As a fan of Audrey, I remember the time I first watched Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the question that crossed my mind many times was: Why was she smoking? Usually followed by: Didn’t she know she was going to get lung problems? Now the question is: Why did I immediately think Audrey was bound for death after I watched her drag a cigarette?

Photo Courtesy of Fred Baby

The answer is clear, it all has to do with the propaganda that United States deems “proper” for elementary school students. Programs such as DARE are often hired to give stickers and pencils to children and explain to them that smoking is a terrible act. The key line in these speeches was often: Your mind will be different when you are older, just remember to never smoke. I decided to test how effective this overused line is, by asking some Columbia students if this propaganda changed their opinion on smoking in any way. Zoe Fuchs, a non-smoker from California, stated, “ Propaganda didn’t really affect me, and I thought they (non-smoking organizations) were hypocrites, because my parents smoked.” Similarly, Jersey, a smoker from Indianapolis, stated “In terms of smoking cigarettes, there are so many laws against advertising for cigarettes that I don’t think that tobacco propaganda really has an impact on kids.”

If these attempts have failed on teens today, isn’t all of the effort a waste? This l led me to wonder if other countries were organizing similar groups to influence their youth. Norah Sadek, from Casablanca, Morocco, stated, “[Morocco] has no smoking precautions.” Much like Morocco, in Italy, an anonymous student stated that “There is no propaganda, and cigarettes are sold in vending machines.”

Photo Courtesy of lanier67

If the United States’ goverment is the only ones using useless propaganda, yet in the past three weeks there have been twice as many foreign students smoking as American students, doesn’t this mean that something is working? Jaclyn Fu, from New Jersey, stated “Certain places smoking is considered okay. The country you come from definitely influences this.” An anonymous student, who lives in France, stated, “Cigarettes are part of everyday business.” So, the real question becomes: Does the country you come from affect your chances of smoking? I believe the answer is yes. The more you are socially immersed into smoking, the higher chance you have of starting. Zoe Fuchs, who lives in a family of smokers, stated, “I think it’s gross, but some people can’t help their addiction.”

Photo Courtesy of Hamid Masoumi

As an avid second hand smoker, she said, “The smell of tobacco reminds me of home.” According to the 2010 smoking statistics, 25% of American high school students smoke, and a thousand teens become new smokers daily. If teens think smoking is “a wretched habit” and “a slow and painful death,” then why are these percentages so high? Hopefully someone will have the answer to that question, but at the moment the most we can do is find a different method of informing youth of the dangers of smoking. As Mark Twain truthfully stated, “To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times.”


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