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How I Started Smoking, Chapter One


When I first moved to Jacksonville with my father I was eight.  At first, I would hang out with the kids who lived across the alley from our house.  We hid in the bushes around the entrance to the library or the girl’s dorm, and when people put out their cigarettes in the sand dishes provided, we salvaged what was left.  Usually this wasn’t worth smoking, but often someone would leave half or more of a cigarette.  The deep sand in the dishes was perfect for this since people usually just pushed their butts straight into the sand.

For a year or so I hung out with these kids, but they turned out to be juvenile delinquents of some sort.  I gradually stopped hanging out and stealing butts.  A few years later, the Surgeon General’s Report came out.  This report stated without any equivocation that cigarettes cause lung cancer.  It made a great impression on me

The next time I tried smoking, I was fifteen and visiting the study room at the high school.  I was about to graduate and I didn’t have any classes with any of the high school teachers.  One of the kids in the study hall offered me a cigarette, and, in a rebellious mood, I tried it.  It made me dizzy and nauseated.

I have quit smoking many times since then, but never permanently.

PS now that my father, who is eighty-six or eighty-seven, has lung cancer, I have more of an incentive to quit smoking permanently.

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