By Chelsie, age 14, South Wales, United Kingdom
Being hooked. It's not a good thing. I smoke, but I'm trying to quit. I've been smoking since I was 12. I started because I thought I was fat. You say, "How does being fat have anything to do with smoking?!" Well, to answer that, when I was hungry, I would smoke instead - it beats hunger. I try not to smoke too often, but I just can't help it.
I have a heart murmur. To be honest, I'm not sure what that is, although I know it either misses a beat or adds one. I'm not too sure. But I know I have a "hole in my heart", and I grew up with severe asthma, which meant the slightest shock would send me into a panic/asthma attack.
Knowing all this, I still decided to smoke. I'd always been the sensible one in the family, to say "no", to say "I'm never going to smoke". Yet here I am now, two years after I started, feeling SO unfit.
I run all the time, I'm always out, and I dance 24/7. But it's true what they say - it clogs up your throat and lungs - because I find I have to cough a lot, and I find it hard to catch my breath after a run. Although I'm very fit and very, very fast, I still find it hard to cope.
I sing as well. I've recently been to a recording studio with my band, and I'm going on my own this summer to record a solo CD. I'm scared that I will have to stop because of the coughing, like I did last time. It's hard now, and I wish I never started, but now I can't stop.
My family doesn't know I smoke. One of my sisters knows, and my friends know, because they smoke too. In a day, I manage to smoke around five, maybe not that many, but sometimes it's more. I try to stop myself and do something else, but it hardly ever works.
In my experience, the pressure on girls these days to smoke is really bad. If you don't smoke, you're apparently not cool, according to a lot of people. At first, only I smoked, then my friend joined in, then another and another, and it grew until all of us except for two now smoke.
Everywhere I go, I see teenage girls smoking and drinking, and it sort of saddens me, because I know that they're probably doing it for the same reasons as I did, and it's not fair that we all think we have to smoke when we don't. Most of us only do it to get noticed.
When I first started to smoke, I was fine with it, and I wasn't addicted straight away obviously, but when I felt I wanted a cigarette I would have one, and I kept on and on, until it finally turned into an addiction. That's when the real problem started, and has lasted for nearly three years.
I'm only able to smoke in school, when I'm out, at my sister's house, and over my friends' homes ... which means I'm able to smoke a lot. My friend and I have made a "promise" - one we've made many times before - that we're going to stop. We're on our last pack, and we're struggling, but we know it's the right thing to do.
Right now, I'm really hoping I can pull myself together and stop. I KNOW I can quit - it's just going to be hard, but I know for a fact that I can. It's just going to take some time.
So, what I'm really saying is, Please, for everyone's sake around you, and for yourself, don't start, because you will just end up regretting it.