I Stopped Smoking at Fourteen

[For young teens]

Teen-agers, how are you doing? Are you finding some of your friends' experiments frightfully attractive, such as trying liquor and tobacco, pep pills, LSD and marijuana, and sexual license? Caveat emptor! Because all those so-called "gorgeous orgies" tell only one part of a story. They use the subtlety of modern advertising techniques, you know. They promise pleasures aplenty, presenting a pound of come-on without an ounce of comeuppance. They work rather like the title of this article, you see; it's a lure to get you started. But they don't tell the whole truth.

Mortal mind, exposed more potently than ever before as a fraud and now properly labeled "nothingness," is rebelling in protest. Nothing ever wants to lose its identity; so carnality runs around screaming: I'm real—just try me! I'm sensational—try more of me! Or sometimes, of course, it merely whispers. People who try its offerings may find all sorts of fantastic sensations. But—and this is what the carnal mind won't advertise along with its attractions—every one of those sensations has a lethal hook.

At fourteen I didn't rise to that particular bait. On New Year's Eve I went to baby-sit at a house where cigarettes were out on the living room table, and at midnight I decided to celebrate all by myself. I had a lovely time admiring in a mirror the fascinating and glamorous picture of myself with my first "wicked weed"! I leaned languidly in a doorway as my wrist curved elegantly and smoke curled entrancingly. It seems pretty silly, as I look back; but at the time it seemed the nth degree of sophistication.

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April 1, 1967

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