Sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee and book.
Lounging on a patio, watching the summer sun dip into the ocean. Engaging in after-dinner conversation with close friends. These are sacred moments in a smoker’s life when it seems unlikely a cigarette in hand could be harmful.

Sure newspapers talk on and on about the link between smoking and a list of diseases. And, yes there are times when the reality of smoking isn’t all that pleasant. (Think Sunday morning, eating breakfast with head in hand, cigarette butts form last night’s get-together spilling out of the ashtray.) But, tobacco is a legal product, after all.

And in the grand scheme of things, cigarettes don’t seem to be nearly As noxious as other drugs.

I mean there’s a big difference between the girl who uses cigarettes and the girl who hides in her room with little bags of crystal meth. Surely there’s a difference between the guy with a pack of smokes in his pocket and the guy who keeps a Mickey of rye in his desk drawer.

Or is there?

According to substance use experts, cigarettes may be much more than just lung crashers that yellow your teeth. It’s possible they can influence the way you think and act later on in life.

Results of the 2004 Canadian Addictions Survey reveal cigarette smoking is a strong indicator of other forms of substance use.

While it’s still up for debate whether tobacco is a gateway to the hard stuff, evidence shows smokers are substantially more likely to drink and use illegal drugs than people who never took to cigarettes in their teen years.

Among teens, cigarette smoking is linked to involvement in a range of risky activities, including illegal and excessive drug use.

Canadian smokers aged 15 to 19 are 14 times more likely than they’re non-smoking classmates to drink alcohol. They’re a lot more likely to be reckless drinkers when they do dive into the bottle, too.

When it comes to illegal drugs young smokers are up to 25 times more likely to use cannabis than their smoke-free friends. They toke up much more often, too. And, you guessed it: teen smokers are 12 times more likely to dabble in illegal drugs – cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, ecstasy, and hallucinogens – than teens who have never used tobacco. (According to the CAS, 31 per cent of smoking youth younger than 20 reported using hard drugs compared with 3.5 per cent of non-smoking youth.)

And cigarette –related risk-taking doesn’t sop at teens getting fall-down drunk or taking magic mushroom rides. U.S. research hints young smokers may be more likely to do other harmful and careless things, too, like have sex at an early age.

“So, what does this mean to me,” you ask, having outgrown your teen angst? Why should you quit smoking as an adult who’s past the more experimental stages of life?

Well, if you have kids, you might want to consider how your cigarette intake is influencing them. Kids with parents who smoke tend to have easier access to cigarettes and are more likely to take up smoking, which means they’re a lot more likely to get involved in things you might not think so socially acceptable.

In other words, your smoking may be linked to your child’s future relationship with drugs.
The other reason to quit is simply because it’s the only way to protect yourself and those you love form smoking’ related diseases, lung cancer being the big one, but by no means the only ailment.

Quitting can be tough, and yes, it would mean giving up those romantic nights on the seashore with your silver-wrapped cigarettes. But it is possible to change your lifestyle. For those who need help, there is Imagine Laser works.

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