A Very True Story

(by anonymous6, 06 June 2005)

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A Very True Story

The following is a true story (that I have personal knowledge of), that
occurred in the late 1990's.  The names and relations have been changed, but
the ages and situations are pure truth.  Some of the text is taken exactly
from conversations I have had.  If you are offended by the fact that someone
under the age of 18 can enjoy smoking, please read no further.  Remember this
is 99% true.

It all started in about 1995.  My name is Jeff, and I live in a small
Midwestern town.  This is a wonderful community, where many people choose to
stay their whole lives.  Such is that with my immediate family.  I live only
blocks from my sisters and parents; and we often spend time together.

Early on I had a unique relationship with my niece.  She was from a family of
all older boys, just as I had been with entirely older sisters.  Jennifer
spent a lot of time at my house even when I was at work.  It seemed to be a
place that she could escape the torment of her brothers.  I eagerly let my
house become her own special refuge from her siblings.  I often came home to
find her watching television or talking on the phone.

Now one thing you must understand is that we are a smoking family.  Everyone
from my great-grandparents to me and my sisters has always smoked.   We all
seemed to start in the 10-12 year old range (at least in my generation), and
had been devoted smokers ever since.  My sisters all married smokers, and all
of the older children enjoyed tobacco too.  It was in no way a taboo in our
family but more of a norm.  So what happened next should have been no surprise
to me.

I suddenly noticed that my cigarettes seemed to disappear faster than usual.
Jennifer was ten at the time, and I usually left an open pack or two around
the house.  The thought that she may be taking them was in no way offending or
alarming.  I knew that although we as a family were acceptant of smoking the
current anti-smoking climate could be causing her to take her enjoyment of
tobacco "underground".  Both of her older brothers smoked, but her own
brainwashing may have caused her reluctance to be open about it.  The task
before me was to determine if she was taking my cigarettes, or it was my own
absent mindedness that caused my disappearing smokes.

The worst thing about being an adult is that you can sometimes forget what it
was like when you were younger.  I didn't want to assume that she was smoking,
but upon reflection I knew how enjoyable it was at that age.  A big part of me
was hopeful that she had found a love of smoking, and would get over her
fears.  I knew that if she wasn't smoking now, she would be later.  I couldn't
say that her mother would feel the same way and that is what frightened me
most.  But I was only acting on assumptions; I needed proof that she was

My first inclination was to just let things be, but my curiosity was getting
the best of me.  I didn't want to spy on her and what she might decide, but
none the less I started counting the cigarettes I left in the house.  If I was
right then I wanted to be there to support her; but if I was wrong then I had
to face the facts.  Maybe I had become what I had always feared, an
overbearing adult.  Upon severe reflection I knew that whatever the situation
may be with her (or any other youngsters), I must always remember that they
are far smarter than their age presents them to be.  

The first few days I didn't even check if my cigarettes were missing.  I only
used a few packs that I carried with me.  There had been several packs that I
left around the house, wanting to make sure if she was taking them there was
an adequate supply.  I finally did a check on the fourth day, and was
pleasantly surprised.  Each of the packs were missing 3-4 cigarettes.
Jennifer was definitely smoking.  Now I needed to figure out how to approach
her about it, yet still make her feel comfortable.

I let a few weeks pass before bringing up the subject.  It was late one
evening when we were watching TV.  I lit myself a cigarette, and casually
offered her one.  Her first reaction was one of denying that she smoked.  I
countered with the knowledge that she had been taking cigarettes, and that it
was perfectly normal.  She was very reluctant to smoke with me at first, but
she soon let her defenses down.  In no time at all she had her "own" supply of
cigarettes in my house to enjoy at her leisure.  We both agreed that we would
let her parents know when she was ready.

Jennifer began spending all of her spare time at my house.  I always kept a
large supply of cigarettes for her.   At the age of 10 I understood that she
had yet to find a truly favorite brand, so I bought many different flavors for
her.  Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, clove, and menthol were among the
flavors she tried.  I often rewarded her for smoking. Although it may sound
devious, I wanted her enjoy smoking and get hooked and that's what happened.  

It took nearly two years, but she finally told her mother.  Knowing my sister
as I did; I wasn't surprised when she merely asked what brand she was smoking.
At that point in time she was smoking the same as the rest of the family, so
supply was not an issue.  It was only much later on that my sister confronted
me about knowing of her smoking.  We both agreed it was purely natural and
decided to let it take its course.  I was glad to see that Jennifer was now
free to smoke at home, but she still sought out my home as a refuge from her

Although Jennifer still spent most of her time at my house, she finally felt
more comfortable at home.  My sister and she never did seem to get along, but
I suddenly saw a new closeness as they would smoke and chat together. I even
noticed my sister compliment her daughter on her smoking.  Jennifer also
suddenly began to bond more with her brothers, as they could all smoke
together.  I am not usually one to "toot my own horn", but I could really see
where her smoking (and my encouragement to do so) was really helping improve
her life.

Jennifer made lots of new friends.  They all loved the fact that they could
smoke around her family without reservation.  Many an evening I would arrive
at her house to find her and a fellow student smoking and studying on the
couch.  Her mother would always provide cigarettes to any guest.  She never
questioned if there was parental approval, that didn't matter when it came to
smoking.  I always wondered if she truly remembered what it was like to smoke
at that age.  I hoped she recalled the feeling, but regardless she was always
the gracious hostess.  That was something I really admired in my sister. 

The next year was purely enjoyable for everyone in the family.  I must admit I
had always been the outcast being the only son.  We seemed to be a closer
family than ever (thanks to Jennifer including me in many family events).
Jennifer also seemed to grow in her relationships outside the family. There
were of course the occasional fights over the last cigarette with her
brothers.  She invited many friends to my place and they all seemed to smoke.
Her circle of friends only seemed to grow.  I just worried about having enough
cigarettes for so many guests.

Challenges seem to come out of no where, as did the first I encountered.
Jennifer had casually mentioned wanting to quit smoking.  I knew that this
would jeopardize all of her connections with family and friends.  When she
arrived at my house the following day I had the answer.  I stocked her up with
cigarettes, and a lot of them.  Knowing if she had cigarettes she would surely
smoke them.  My plan worked just as I had intended.

I only faced this type of challenge once more.  It was during the summer, and
she wanted to buy a $200 X-Box.  She had again recently expressed that she
might want to quit smoking.  Although I knew that since all of her friends
smoked this was highly unlikely, I felt the need to intervene.  We came to a
deal, she must smoke 2 packs per day for one month, only then would she get
the money she needed. This was easy way to keep her smoking and get her to
smoke more at the same time.  It was a very amicable agreement. 

So now we are at the present.  Jennifer still smokes over a pack a day, as do
most of her friends.  Her relationship with her mother is much better although
not perfect.  She smokes everywhere she pleases, even in public.  The pleasure
of smoking has captivated her.  Although she is only 15, she understands more
of the world than most adults.  Her Marlboros have been substituted by
Newport's (the choice of most of her friends).  But most of all I see my own
influence and how it has helped her.  I may never have children of my own, but
I can feel that I have done my adult duty.

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