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Recreational Cannabis use as of October 17 is now legal in Canada. The legislators are stirring the "pot". The stats tell us that 2.74 million Canadians smoke Marijuana; if you do the math that equates to 100,000 puffers per day.

The senseless waste of our childrenís health scares me. "Long term exposure to tobacco/ Marijuana increases the risk of Lung Cancer" the Oncologistís constantly warns the public.

Why are one third of our young people hooked on smoking? I decided to check with some "experts". I interviewed six students at Lord Dorchester Secondary School.

"Ben" a nineteen year old who has been smoking since the age of fourteen. He smokes fifteen cigarettes a day and spends on average $20.00 per week on his habit that he learned from his mother. "John" joined in the discussion, he started smoking at age twelve ; "it was his way to fit in and be accepted."

"Jane and Mary," both sixteen, had started smoking at age fourteen to relieve stress and now found themselves hooked. They both smoked half a pack a day during the week and more on the week ends when they went to parties with their friends.

They all seemed to know of the risks of smoking but were unable to quit; cutting back was not a viable solution.

When I showed them the stats on Cancer and smoking their response was sad "We know."

The teen agers have some solutions to prevent their young siblings from being hooked. "Prevention and education has to start before the age of twelve; "if you donít smoke before you enter high school the chances are that you will not start". The graphic labels on the cigarette packages have no relevance to them " Smoke can harm your children"; "Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby" does not apply to them.

The "Smoke Enders Program" in the high schools might be of help but they would not participate because their parents had to give written permission. The students felt that the high cost of cigarettes had a direct relationship to the amount that they smoked. The higher prices helped dissuade younger kids from starting.

Friends and family seems to be the greatest predictors of a young person starting to smoke. The stats showed that teenage smokers were sixteen times more likely to have friends who smoked- it is the in social thing to do. Parents can help by educating their children; merely disapproving of the habit makes it more secretive and it does not work. Parents who smoke are role models. 23% of children acquired the habit from their parents and you can not tell them "no" when you too smoke.

The Addiction Research Foundation advises parents not to lecture their children but rather to educate them of the reality of smoking so they can make wise decisions. " Exercising discretion when choosing to use substances is difficult without accurate information."

Len Lesser is an education/career counselor in Dorchester

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com