There's a boy down in south west Florida named Joe Schmoe. He's 16 years old and goes to Lemon Bay High School. He doesn't know it yet, but he's addicted to cigarettes. Joe just got a job at McDonald's last month and so far it's been going good. There's this really cute girl that comes by every once in a while to buy an iced tea, and he's dying to talk to her. But little does he know she can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke and she's not interested in people who smoke.
Here's his story; one day, Joe's freshmen year, he was walking home with the new kid, Jerry, that came from New York City. They were walking across the bridge and suddenly Jerry stopped, pulled out a cigarette, and lit it. "You smoke?" Jerry asked. Joe didn't want to seem lame by saying no, but he had never smoked before. His dad would smoke occasionally, but not very often, and his mom never smoked. Joe quickly came up with a lie "Yeah once in awhile you know, but it's not really my thing." "Prove it." he said. Joe didn't know what to do because he didn't know how Jerry would act.. Joe didn't want to make an enemy or look like a baby for not doing it, so he did it. And everyday, for the rest of the school year, they would walk home, and smoke a cigarette together. That summer, they hung out like everyday. Joe began to hang around with 'those kind of people' who smoked quite often. They would hang around in their back yards and smoke, all together they'd go through about a pack a day.
When Joe was alone he would smoke once in a while, but it wasn't as fun as with his friends. He would go through about 5 cigarettes a day, one in the morning when he woke up, one at lunch, one on his way home from school, one on his break at work, and one when he got home. Joe was looking at a picture of himself from the beginning of freshman year and he noticed how white and straight his teeth used to be. Now they're stained brownish yellow and he noticed his breath is always stale and bad. Joe noticed the picture he was looking at was from the last year of baseball he played. He was one of the best players on the team. Everyone called him flash because he'd run from base to base so quick. But he noticed the other day when he ran to his car to get out of the rain, he got winded so quickly. He's young now and has only been smoking for about two years, but if he continues this his skin will begin to wrinkle and he could have poor vision. He will develop lung cancer, blood cancer, or heart disease. He may have trouble having kids because tobacco can cause erectile dysfunction.
Last week Joe tried to talk to the cute girl when he ran into her in the parking lot, but as soon as he walked up to her all she could smell was cigarette coming off his clothing. She told him she wasn't interested, and it really hurt him.
Joe became very depressed those next few days. And his smoking habits became more frequent. It became a routine for him because he thought it was a stress relief. Before he knew it he was smoking a pack a day, and one pack costs about $10. Joe became even more stressed out and depressed because of all the money he was spending. He really wanted to quick but that just made him do it more.
His depression caused him to distance himself from all his friends and family. At the same time, his parents filed for divorce. It seemed Joe was smoking more and more each day, ruining his life by the minute. He even got a warning at work because he was told he takes too many 'breaks'. They noticed he'd even ask to go to the bathroom and come back smelling like smoke, and one of the managers caught him smoking in the stall.
With all the stress and depression, Joe thought he could really not quit, so he didn't even try.