i lived in a tobacco bubble

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Although I have never placed a cigarette to my lips, I can vividly recall my entire family smoking around me when I was little. This was back in the early 90’s, so no one even thought twice about the effects of smoking around young children. I would be riding in the car with my grandma and the windows would be barely cracked while she inhaled her cigarette. Sometimes she would even smoke one on the way to our destination and one on our way back home.

I actually think my disdain for cigarettes comes from being engulfed in tobacco filled clouds all my life. Whether we were riding in the car, sitting on the porch watching alley cats walk up and down the sidewalk, or just casually hanging in the house, I literally lived in a tobacco bubble. I can even visualize all the magazines stacked in my grandma’s bathroom with the Newport cigarette ads on them. It would be entire families on the ads laughing, while playing tug-a-war, which implied that smoking could enhance your quality of life.

Fast forward two decades and all the ads you see on magazines and on the television show people with holes in their throat gasping for air to breathe—implying how cigarette smoking can ruin your quality of life. The ads have changed and the lifestyles of my loved ones have changed with them.

What a complete 180 of cultural norms.

What’s helping to continue to push those cultural norms? The introduction of state laws increasing the smoking age. Illinois recently became the next state to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. But one thing those in office forget to look at is the cause at its core. Why are young adults still reaching for cigarettes despite seeing the scare-you-to-death ads? The dangers have been made very clear. Smoking kills. We get it. But there’s much work to be done in the community to help those who struggle to put down cigarettes and choose a healthier lifestyle. And, just like anything else, this certainly isn’t the solution to eliminating tobacco use. Lawmakers are hoping this will create a shift in lifestyle habits for those looking to indulge in a smoke earlier on.

Maybe increasing the age will make it a little more challenging for young adults to get their hands on tobacco products. And while increasing the age in the hopes of helping Americans replace their tobacco addictions with a healthier lifestyle sounds great—realistically speaking—America clearly doesn’t care that much to deter smokers because well, money.

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Amaya likes to consider herself an extroverted introvert who prefers the convenience of communicating behind words rather than in person-she’s never been the one to enjoy public speaking. Amaya finds her passion for writing through her experiences whether it be her childhood, her brief stunt of living in Washington D.C. (which created an interest in politics), traveling, or her millennial-aged marriage. Amaya gets paid for a living to write all that goes on in her current city of Charlotte, North Carolina but also has a knack for telling the stories that mean the most to her in hopes of inspiring other like-minded individuals or maybe even provoke a thought in those whose opinions differ. Regardless, she hopes you enjoy the content and continues to come back!

LifestyleRania Bolton