Among the things I cannot understand is why people smoke. I have a difficult time finding one good reason for lighting up and I challenge anyone to come up with an argument that will convince me there is the slightest trace of good in the habit. We’ve all heard the cliches from our middle school years about how people get hooked, from peer pressure to the need to look cool to simple curiosity. But the fact that students at Georgetown, of all places, continue to smoke boggles my mind.

I started thinking about smoking recently at a crowded party. Everyone was having a good time, catching up with friends and, well, doing what college students do best. The atmosphere was fun and energetic, but what killed the good time for me was an overwhelming cloud of cigarette smoke billowing up from the crowd. I must have weak, sensitive lungs, because the secondhand smoke felt like someone was shoving a cigarette down my throat. This prompted me to wonder why anyone would be smoking at all. Honestly, why?

Health concerns aside for a moment, smoking is quite the expensive little habit. With cigarette prices at nearly five dollars a pack, a “moderate” smoker can spend $20 a week to what, look cool? Let me tell you that five dollars a pack can really add up. But to put things into a college perspective, the following is a list of things you can buy in a year when you kick the habit for good:

Two hundred Chicken Madness sandwiches, 50 Georgetown sweatshirts, seven foosball tables, 13 years of basketball season tickets, a round-trip airplane ticket to Europe, 15 pairs of Nikes, 100 lunches at The Tombs, 55 CDs, 833 Metro rides, 650 Starbucks coffees or 25 PlayStation 2 games.

The money can really add up, so next time you might think twice before you drop some cash for your Wisey’s lunch.

OK, so if money for cigarettes is no concern of yours, the health benefits of smoking should be saying something. Have you seen the commercials? The black lungs? The assortment of cancers to choose from? Is that really what you want? I’m no doctor, but common sense tells me that smoking shortens lives. I cannot believe that anyone decidedly wants to cut their life short by smoking, but people continue to do it. Still, I am puzzled.

I’m sure this is not new information to anyone, perhaps a new slant on the topic. But I want to remind all the smokers out there that it is never too late to quit. If smoking is a stress release that you absolutely need, find a new, healthier habit to take its place. Play your favorite music whenever you feel a craving coming on, then challenge yourself to write down all 50 states and their capitals as a distraction. Play your roommate at poker. Call your parents and tell them about your classes. Dust off your desk. Organize your closet. Start writing your autobiography entitled, My Life as a Non-Smoker; you get the idea. Basically, anything will be better for your body and mind than lighting up.

Building up self-control will make it easy to refuse the urge. It takes time, but it can be done. In the difficult moments of the quitting process, remember all the good reasons you are nixing the habit. Do it for yourself, your family and your friends. Do it for your grades and your teachers. Do it for your wardrobe that will no longer reek. Do it for your lungs. Do it for your wallet, if nothing else.

Frances Piccone is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business.

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