A recent survey showing that teenagers are still picking up the awful, nasty habit of smoking has got me, well, fuming.

According to Health Canada, more than 10,000 teens started smoking last year, a statistic that is equally maddening as it is confusing.

Why would anyone in this day and age want to start smoking? Maybe I’m just getting older and crankier, or maybe I remember how hard it was to quit after 16 years of smoking and how much money I paid to kill my lungs or give myself cancer.

I’m not sure why anyone would start smoking anymore. It made sense 30 years ago.

You could smoke anywhere. Literally. In friends’ houses, shopping malls, doctors offices, hospital rooms, university classrooms, the smell of cigarette smoke was a constant.

However in the year 2011, smokers are among the most marginalized and ostracized people in our society – with good reason.

I’m not sure what’s attractive about standing outside your place of work on a cold, -25-degree day in January to get your nicotine fix, while the rest of your co-workers point and laugh.

I’m not sure what’s appealing about walking back into your office and having everyone tell you that you stink, about having members of the opposite (or same) sex tell you that they find you attractive and all but that they just can’t hook up with a smoker. And who could blame them?

When I was a teenager in the ’90s, everyone who was cool was a smoker. Kurt Cobain, Slash, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss and countless others were often photographed with an omnipresent cancer stick. Sneaking a smoke with your friends was often your first real act of rebellion, a way to fit in, stand out or look tough. Even 10 years ago, it was possible to look classy while smoking a cigarette.

Fast-forward to today and it’s about as fashionable as injecting black-tar heroin at a dinner-party table and about as classy as wearing a T-shirt to the opera. There are plenty of ways to rebel against your parents, fit in, stand out or look cool beyond picking up smoking.

Dye your hair, get pierced or start a really loud band. Because while you might be cool when you’re a teenager, there’s nothing cool about being an ostracized, stinky, wrinkly middle-aged dude standing outside in the winter just to get their fix.

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