This is part 2 of a two-part series about underage smoking at Halloween or other parties.
You’re a teen at a Halloween or other kind of party. At least one other person peer pressures you to smoke. What do you do?
You may be afraid to say no because you are fearful that the person giving you negative peer pressure will say you are not cool. You may be afraid that he or she or they will call you a goody-goody or a wimp or a wuss. In that case, you are feeling a sense of lack. You are feeling vulnerable, and perhaps, backed into a corner. Your fight or flight instinct has been activated as you are afraid that you are not going to be able to handle the situation in a safe or face-saving manner.
A little secret
What you may not realize is that the person giving the negative peer pressure is afraid also. He or she is afraid to be the only one doing the wrong thing. Therefore, he or she feels the need to have other people do exactly what he or she is doing so as to not be the only one getting in trouble.
Fight or Flight Instinct versus Self-Mentoring
When people feel fear, their fight or flight instinct becomes activated. In that case, they have three choices. As you can see by the continuum shown in the picture above, they can give in to their FIGHT instinct, they can give in to their FLIGHT instinct, or they can find a way to Self-Mentor.
You can FIGHT by finding a way to remain at the party but not giving in to the negative peer pressure to drink. You can FIGHT by standing up for yourself against the negative peer pressure, which might end with your friendship still intact or might end your friendship.
You can choose the FLIGHT option by calling your parents to pick you up and take you home. Of course, there is also the FLIGHT option of giving in to the negative peer pressure.
Or you can find a way to Self-Mentor so that you do not have to drink AND you still have your friendship intact AND your ‘cool factor’ has not been compromised. Read on for ideas on how to do that.
Work for a WIN-WIN with your peer pressuring friend
You’re a teenager at a party where you are being pressured to smoke or to chew. There are no adult chaperones. You don’t want to use any of these tobacco products; however, you fear the consequences should you say no. What do you do?
Let’s imagine that the peer pressuring friend is Tiffany. The girl trying to resist her peer pressure to smoke is named Julie. This is how this could work.
Tiffany is giving a party. Julie is one of the girls who came to the party. When Julie got there, she saw that there were no adults present. She also saw that a lot of the girls were smoking. Tiffany said:
Tiffany: Hey, Julie! Glad you’re here! Have a cigarette!
Julie: No, thanks! I don’t smoke.
Tiffany: Don’t be a wimp. Have a cigarette!
Julie felt a little bit of fear when she saw the determined look in Tiffany’s eyes. But Julie was smart! She remembers to take deep, calming breaths and to listen to her inner wisdom.
You’re being peer pressured to smoke. Respond with positive peer pressure!
Julie takes a deep, calming breath. She feels herself relaxing. She visibly relaxes herself with another deep breath. Then quickly, she listens for her inner wisdom to tell her what to do.
Suddenly, she remembers that instead of giving in to negative peer pressure, she could give Tiffany some positive peer pressure. After taking a third deep breath, from deep in her diaphragm, she is able to say:
Julie: No, thanks! By the way, did you know that cigarettes have 500 chemicals in them including formaldehyde which you use to preserve dead frogs, cyanide which you use in rat poisoning, insecticide which you use to kill bugs, and tar that you use to pave roads.
Tiffany: That’s kind of gross! But have a cigarette anyway! It’s cool!
Julie: No way! I don’t want to put bug killer in my body and rat poisoning and stuff you use to preserve dead frogs and tar that you use to pave roads. Why do you want to smoke anyway?
Tiffany: Like I said, it’s cool!
Julie: It’s not going to be so cool if you end up getting leathery skin or your teeth turn kind of brown or you end up getting asthma or other breathing problems. Do you know that cigarettes stunt the growth of your lungs? Since you’re probably not full-grown yet, your lungs stay the same size while the rest of your body keeps growing. Then you might end up with a gravelling voice or get that smoker’s cough. Tiffany, I don’t want you to get sick or hurt. I even know of a fourteen year-old kid who got lung cancer. He started smoking when he was nine. His lungs collapsed when he turned fourteen, and they had to hook him up to an oxygen machine. Plus, I’ve heard that one in three or one in five teenagers end up dying from a smoking-related disease. Tiffany, I don’t want you or these other girls to get sick or die young. Why don’t you throw that cigarette out? Then, let’s dance or eat munchies instead.
Tiffany wasn’t thrilled with the idea of not smoking; however, she couldn’t help shuddering a bit of all the things that could happen to her body if she continued. She forgot all about pressuring Julie anymore. Instead, she said:
Tiffany: Well, …., I guess. Hey! I’ve got an idea! Let’s call up Mark. Maybe he could get some cute guys together and they could come over later.
Julie: Yeah! I like that idea. I hope he can get Zach to come. I kind of like him.
Successful techniques against negative peer pressure
What kind of things did Julie do to Self-Mentor herself? Also, what things did she tell Tiffany about as a form of positive peer pressure?
1. Breathe and say no.
2. Breathe and issue positive peer pressure to listen to the health hazards of smoking.
3. Listen to her inner wisdom.
4. Talk about four of the 500 chemicals in cigarettes.
5. Talk about stunting the growth of your lungs and getting breathing problems or asthma or smoker’s cough.
6. Talk about the leathery skin or stained teeth you get from smoking.
7. Talk about 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 teenagers ending up dying from a smoking-related disease.
8. Talk about how a kid can actually get lung cancer.
9. Express caring for her friend Tiffany that she does not want her to get sick or die young from smoking.
10. Distract Tiffany by suggesting something else to do that you know she would enjoy.
Other Resources about Underage Smoking
Part 1 – Laws about underage smoking at Halloween or other parties
Part 2 – Peer pressure to underage smoke at Halloween or other parties
Other Resources about Underage Drinking
Part 1 – Laws about underage drinking at Halloween or other parties
Part 2 – Peer pressure to underage drink at Halloween or other parties
Part 3 – Fight or Flight: Underage drink at Halloween or other parties