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Out and About, Time to butt out

I don't smoke. Never have. Never will. My parents never smoked either. I'm sure this had a lot to do with why I never picked up the habit when many of my friends were doing it in junior high and high school.

I don't smoke. Never have. Never will.

My parents never smoked either. I'm sure this had a lot to do with why I never picked up the habit when many of my friends were doing it in junior high and high school. There was also an ex-boyfriend who had a huge hand in me not smoking.

Admittedly I have tried a cigarette or two in my day, so when I say I have never smoked it's more like I've never been a smoker. But peer pressure - as it so often does - almost got the best of me the summer before I started grade 11.

I remember heading out to Clear Lake in Manitoba for a weekend camping trip with a bunch of friends. At that time almost everyone smoked, if not all the time, at least socially. I was still up in the air as to where I would fit in. Would I become the "uncool" person who never smoked, or would I try to fit in with the "cool" kids. To me the most important thing was being unique and different, so naturally I was leading toward no smoking.

But at the same time, smoking had this element of rebellion and no one wanted to rebel more than me. Coming from a "broken home" with a mom who was angry with me for moving to live with my dad, and a dad who was never around (he worked on the road a lot, but he was a great man) rebellion seemed like a good way to get out my pent up frustration over my parents' situation.

So here I was, heading out on this camping trip with my dad's truck, friends - both girls and boys - and a cooler full of beverages I was not of legal age to drink. (Which I later took complete blame for on our campsite when "men of the law" came by to see what us young teenagers were up too.)

In a silly act of spontaneity, I bought a pack of cigarettes. As I said, I wasn't a smoker, nor even a social smoker but for whatever reason thought it would be a good way to rebel.

After we set up our tents and everything was good to go, everyone pulled out their smokes. When I did too and lit one up, I felt a part of the gang, like I was doing something really bad. And I could see how easily it can become to get hooked when everyone around you is doing it.

But then the boy I was dating - his dad was a doctor and therefore smoking was bad - came up to me, took it out of my hand, broke it and threw away the pack. He looked disgusted.

I remember feeling rage rear its ugly head within me and I was about to snap on him. Teenage hormones are wild. But for whatever reason I kept my cool and that was pretty much the end of me smoking.

The reason I tell this story is because I want people to realize when they see a teenager smoking, sometimes breaking their cigarette and getting rid of the rest is all they need. Of course, the person doing it has to be someone the teenager looks up to. In my case, it was boy. And for a teenage girl, almost nothing has more influence than a boy.

Of course, the influencer changes over the years and by the time you reach my age - my mid 20s - you're not likely to be influenced to smoke by anyone, let alone a boy. You're also not likely to be influenced to quite smoking either - especially by the government.

Which brings me to the second point in my story.

Apparently at the beginning of July the Canadian government made it illegal for people to sell cigarillos in singles. You could still buy them in 20 packs, however.

According to the government, those mini-flavoured cigars encouraged young people to smoke. I don't doubt that for a second. I don't know anyone who liked the taste of a cigarette the first time they tried one, but from my understanding, the flavoured cigars taste great. Just imagine being a teenager and trying one for the first time. You'd be hooked.

Secretly I was enthused about the fact the government was outlawing them because my significant other is known to indulge in one from time to time (infrequently really). He's an adult and I firmly believe adults should be able to make their own decisions about whether they want to smoke or not, but I would just prefer he didn't. (Now I'm sure someone we know will read this and tell him so I'm just waiting for the backlash on this one.)

You can imagine my surprise then, when I saw him with one after July 5 when they apparently became illegal. Now really imagine my shock when he tells me, 'oh they just took the filter off and now they're legal.'

Really? Wow. So what was the point in outlawing them in the first place. Now kids can smoke cigarillos without a filter. Good job Canadian government.

I know the government is trying to do the right thing here, but honestly, it seems to have made matters worse. In my opinion it's high time the government worked a harder to educate our younger population instead of trying to dictate what adults can or cannot do in terms of smoking as well. Because all they've done is made things worse - for adults and teenagers.