It’s tough in this day and age of constant marketing and peer pressure to avoid smoking tobacco in any form. Most kids invariably experiment with tobacco during their high school and college years to “look cool.” I was never one of those people, and I wore it as a badge of honor that I never took even one drag on a cigarette in my entire life.
My father was a smoker most of his early adult life, and he nearly died of a horrific blood clot when he was in his thirties and I was still a young kid. The thought of losing my dad so young definitely opened my eyes to the dangers of cigarettes and helped propel me on a path towards not smoking. It just seemed senseless and I detested everything about smoking.
I was also an athlete growing up and smoking hampered the lung capacity and endurance of so many people I knew who were top quality athletes and I couldn’t understand why they continued smoking. In my sport of choice, soccer, running is so exceptionally important to being a good player that it was insane to even contemplate smoking. I could see teammates running down the field with the soccer ball at their feet and they were just a step slower than they should have been.
I still have never smoked any type of tobacco product and that’s something I’m very proud of. I still recoil in horror when I see someone my age driving in their car puffing on a cigarette; it just baffles me and I want to tell them that they certainly don’t look “cool” and they are quite likely taking years off their lives that they’d otherwise want to spend with their kids and future grandkids.