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Getting Proactive About Teen Smoking

March 06, 2000

As a person who has presented smoking cessation programs to adults and teens for the past 15 years, I would like to congratulate the Los Angeles Times and writer Shari Roan for the outstanding article titled "Struggle to Quit" (Feb. 14).

I would suggest that the parents (or parent) of any teenage smoker view this article as mandatory reading for themselves, and I would encourage them to do all they can to get a smoking teen to read it.

I am currently conducting an American Cancer Society Fresh Start program at Los Robles Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, and there are two teens in the program. One of them is 18 years old and came with the intention and commitment to quit smoking and has been cigarette-free for a full week. I also have a 17-year-old who was cited by his high school administration in Santa Monica for smoking too close to the school. His purpose in signing up for the program was to avoid being expelled from the school, and quitting smoking was probably the furthest thing from his mind. However, after attending the class for the past four weeks, he appears to have taken an interest in making an attempt to quit, or is at least looking at it in a more positive manner.

Thanks again for presenting such positive information as The Times continues its proactive course in helping teen smokers come to grips with their addiction and guiding them in the right direction.


Conejo Valley

American Cancer Society



When I was a teen, smoking was as cool as Kools. It was in! Movies celebrated it. Tobacco companies were constantly on campus handing out free five-packs of their latest brands. I taught fraternity pledges proper smoking etiquette at their favorite sorority--men did the lighting, women smoked only while seated or standing, not walking. I wasn't buying the latest invention, the filter. I only smoked he-man Camels.

Later, I began to raise a family. Dad's friends owned a funeral home in a small Kansas town. He invited my boys into his mortuary to see the inside of the lungs of a lifelong smoker. They were lucky. Neither ever smoked. A heavy-smoking classmate has spent the past three months in a Texas cancer center. His tumor is inoperable. A track was just installed to aid in feeding. He won't see summer or ever fish again.

Like the sun, cigarettes don't get mad, but they do get even. Worse, Washington politicians are in denial. Tobacco makes them rich. Why should they want to protect the nation's precious kids?


San Diego

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