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Change of Taste

Senior shares insight of battle with nicotine addiction

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Inhale, puff, release. With every puff of a cigarette, an addiction grows.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) smoking cigarettes causes 480,000 deaths per year. That means on average 1,300 deaths occur every day. Senior Hannah McGough started smoking when she was 16. With a driver’s license and a vehicle at her fingertips, McGough drove down to a local gas station. A brown and white package of Marlboro 27 cigarettes called her name.  She walked up to the counter and asked for one pack of cigarettes. Knowing McGough’s family were regulars at the station, the man trusted her word when she told him the cigarettes were for her mother. Getting into her car with a fresh pack in her pocket, McGough drove home. Arriving at her house in time for dinner, McGough sat down with her family for a home cooked meal.  After dinner she slid her bedroom window open—a cigarette in between her lips and a bic lighter in her other hand. A clicking spark sounds throughout her room, and a second later the yellow-orange flame burns bright at the tip of the lighter.

Pulling the flame of the lighter closer to the cigarette, white paper and tobacco catch ablaze as she took a puff, allowing smoke to fill her mouth. An odor fills her room quickly. She hated the smell, but could not stop. She felt aesthetically pleased with the way smoke floated in the air. McGough often smoked in her car. She would leave her house an additional 10 minutes early, telling her friends she was on her way. Not wanting the smell to linger and affect others, she would roll down the windows and drench the car with spray to remove the odor.  “I already knew it was affecting me and my body,” McGough said. “I didn’t want to affect anyone else.”  McGough would attend work often reeking of cigarette smoke. She said she just got out of her sister’s or mother’s car, but she felt her co workers always assumed otherwise.

“I was embarrassed by it,” McGough said. “I didn’t want to be a smoker.” McGough’s mother never knew her daughter smoked until one day she found a package of cigarettes in her car.

McGough’s mother has smoked since she was 13, and she didn’t want any of her kids to start. Determined to get McGough to stop, her mother snapped the cigarettes in half. That night, she dropped the broken package into her daughter’s hands.
She was trying to teach McGough a lesson. However, it didn’t motivate her to stop, and soon her mom started to lose hope.
• • •
Scanning the room every second, not able to sit still anymore, thoughts of needing a cigarette filled McGough’s head.

“I like being dependent of myself and only myself,” McGough said. “So realizing I was basically signing a contract to [smoking], it [was] sad.”  She found herself looking into a purse that belonged to her sister, thinking she could just steal a cigarette and no one would find out. But she couldn’t bring herself to steal. It seemed so pathetic to her.  She then turned to vaping as a solution. It worked for a while, McGough started to feel less reliant on cigarettes. She started to use three milligram nicotine juice in her vape.

The addiction decreased day by day. Then she relapsed. McGough found herself with another pack of cigarettes in her hands and a smoke between her lips. She swore to herself this was going to be her last pack. She would go to the gym six times a week, and drinking a bottle of water helped fight the feeling of needing a cigarette. A boost of confidence came with every gulp.  Soon, McGough found herself not vaping or wanting a cigarette much anymore.

Vaping and the gym helped her finally quit. McGough, however, does not encourage others to start vaping if they have not tried other methods to stop their addiction.
She knows that anyone can quit smoking, sometimes it just takes a little push to get them on their journey. If she notices that a friend is struggling with a tobacco addiction, she offers to buy them Chick-Fil-A or treat them to a movie if they can stop for one week.
“If I went from cigarettes, to saying ‘I need it, I need it, I need it,’ to vaping, where I’m now like ‘I can go without it I’m fine,’” McGough said. “That’s an accomplishment and I know someone else can do it.”

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Marcus High School's Online Publication
Change of Taste