Generation Y do you smoke?

Taylor Leckie

Pete Fastuca rolls his own cigarette while Paige Crofton looks on. Photo by Randy Rataj / Spinnaker
Pete Fastuca rolls his own cigarette while Paige Crofton looks on.
Photo by Randy Rataj / Spinnaker


Why do young people still smoke? When compared to the older generations of our parents and grandparents, our generation has been raised relatively free of ignorance regarding the effects of smoking things like cigarettes.

Is it because smoking might be considered a trend, like the leggings of the ’80s and retro hairstyles from the ’40s that occasionally reappear?

With the fluid cultural mix in Jacksonville, the popularity of smoking hookah has grown stronger as a trend among college students. Perhaps this is not seen as harmful as smoking cigarettes?

According to the MayoClinic.com, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than cigarette smokers are. The thought that the water in the hookah filters out the toxins is merely a myth. This smoke is actually more unhealthy to inhale than regular cigarettes. Plus, if the pipes are not cleaned properly, especially in the popular hookah cafes, you could be infected with a disease that came from a stranger’s mouth, like herpes.

Smoking is clearly an unhealthy choice and our generation very well knows it. So, why do it?

A friend of mine said he smokes because the inhaling and exhaling calms him. I guess he forgets about the toxins that he is bringing into his lungs with those deep breathing exercises. I have one word for him: “yoga.” Or better yet, just take a breather, without the odor and ill effects on your respiratory system. It will give you the same relaxed feeling without the effects of cigarettes, like wrinkled skin, saggy boobs, bad breath, stinky clothes, yellow teeth and, of course, cancer — to name a few.

I am honestly surprised to see smokers on a campus where higher education takes place. CDC.gov states 45.2 percent of adults with a GED diploma are smokers and only 9.9 percent of adults with an undergraduate college degree smoke. This number shrinks even more as they become more educated with only 6.3 percent of adults with a postgraduate college degree being smokers.

You’d think being raised to know smoking is harmful and having a college education at UNF would make people just drop the smoking trend altogether. UNF Student Health Services even has programs that can help people quit smoking. With the knowledge and helpful resources behind them, why do these students still smoke?

I do not see how college students can even afford to smoke. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in Florida is $5.63. And that’s not the only price to pay — with state health care costs, loss of productivity in the workplace, and even premature deaths, smoking impacts the U.S. economy by more than $301 billion a year, according to research conducted by the American Lung Association. Do you still think smoking doesn’t have an affect on others?

I can speak from personal experience on how distracting it is to have a smoker sitting next to you while trying to focus on a classroom lecture. It is difficult to concentrate when waves of toxic fumes are being forced into my breathing environment. Not to mention that when walking across UNF’s beautiful campus — lodged among a nature preserve — I often find myself swiftly moving through a cloud of cigarette smoke to reach my next destination. It really takes away from the clean outdoor experience.

I am still perplexed as to the appeal smoking has to the informed generation that I am a part of.

Email Taylor Leckie at [email protected]