Letter: Tobacco industry targets youth

Smoking rates are down to 12.1 percent in San Benito County.

As a sophomore at San Benito High School I face daily peer pressure; whether it’s from friends wanting me to drink alcohol or smoking cigarettes. I’m constantly told that if I don’t, I am not cool enough. Lucky enough I am the kind of person that if something does not seem right I will not do it, especially to fit in or impress my friends. However, I know of many students who smoke because they do not want to feel left out.
I am noticing that many of those students who didn’t smoke before are now smoking e-cigarettes or e-cigs as they call them. E-cigarettes have become so popular among my peers. They smoke them everywhere; at parks, while hanging out, at parties, at home, at school and many other places. Even though they don’t smell as bad as cigarettes I still don’t like it. The smell of e-cigs makes me dizzy and gives me a headache.
I have learned so much from being part of the San Benito County Youth Tobacco Coalition. Learning of the effects from smoking and how damaging it is to your health makes me never want to smoke. I have also learned that people who smoke e-cigarettes also experience very similar short-term health effects as those who smoke traditional cigarettes. Although it is unknown how it will affect you in the long run, I don’t think e-cigs are safe.
I know cigarette companies target us, youth, by using creative marketing tactics. They know that we are young and vulnerable and the younger we start smoking the harder it will be to quit in the long run. Tobacco companies were smart and creative with the creation of e-cigs; creating them in different shapes, styles and flavors has led to many youth, my age, hooked on these devices. One thing I do know, and that is, no matter how much I’m pressured to try e-cigs, I know that I don’t need to smoke to be cool.
Yasmeen Diaz, Hollister

Leave your comments