It was 21 years ago when I started smoking socially. It began with me trying to impress a young man who was about five years older than me I had a crush on.
I was standing outside of the nightclub called Focus at the time, now called the Government in Toronto, with two of my girlfriends from high school. Focus was one of those clubs where you needed to be 19-years-old to get in and the young man I had a crush on was in the line up. He turned 19 that day. My girlfriends and I were 14 and there was no way we were going to get in, even though we were standing in the line hoping we would.
One of my girlfriends suggested we started smoking. She had a pack of cigarettes and a lighter she got from one of her older sisters. I thought it would make me seem older and impress my crush, so I did start smoking.
It made me cough, I felt ill and for a moment I could not breathe. I pretended that I had none of these reactions and held out the “sin stick” like I was one of those models in a Moores cigarette advertisement.
This was one of the biggest mistakes I could have made. After I kept smoking the coughing and ill feeling went away. Throughout high school I would smoke socially. By time I got to undergraduate schooling in university I was buying packs. I met my first adult boyfriend while in undergrad and he hated smoking so I stopped for three years and started again shortly after we broke up.
Working in journalism with strict deadlines did not help me to prevent myself from starting smoking again. I did stop after awhile. To a certain extent it is true it takes willpower. Once I went on to doing my graduate studies in Montreal, where at that time it seemed like everyone was smoking there, I discovered Gauloises cigarettes and started smoking again for quite some time.
All this to say that smoking is bad and the best way to not continue with it is not start in the first place. I think it is wonderful there are so many anti-smoking campaigns out there now. It is important to get young people not to start in the first place, because it is hard to quit.