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To Sam

Smoking and peer pressure

I am 11 years old and have recently joined a local secondary school. After school, I usually go to the park not far from where I live with my friends to get out of the house and to enjoy myself, but recently my friend has snuck out some cigarettes and a lighter from her sister. She then lights it and smokes around me and my other close friends. She then was calling me names saying I was a chicken and a wuss for not trying it. This made me feel low and depressed as I do not like being called hurtful things. So I tried just one puff and hated it. I felt so disappointed with myself and knew I shouldn't have done it. So I turned to my Physical Development teacher and told her my story, and she gave me some advice about peer pressure. She then told me to turn to ChildLine for further advice. Please reply as I feel frightened and want someone else to talk to. 
Ask Sam



Thank you for writing to me. I can hear how upset you’ve been feeling about being pressured into smoking.

You said that your friend was calling you names and putting pressure on you to try smoking. Calling others names is not ok and it’s understandable that you felt hurt by this. Being under pressure from your friends can make you feel scared and worried and can push you into doing things that you might not want to.

It’s good to hear that you try to stand up to your principles and do what feels right for you. I can hear how disappointed you feel that you tried one puff of the cigarette, but I think it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. Although you feel bad, no-one else has been hurt by what happened. You might find it useful to read the Explore page on guilt. It sounds like you’ve learnt from your experience, because it helped you know for sure that you don’t want to smoke again. It can be very difficult and lonely to stand up for yourself when you are experiencing peer pressure, so it’s a good idea to get as much support as possible.

I’m really pleased that you had the courage to talk to your teacher. It seems like she was able to give you some good advice. You could also take a look at the peer pressure message boards and see what other young people have to say about peer pressure. Take a look at our peer pressure page in the Explore section for more advice. You could also take a look at our smoking advice in the Explore section for more information about smoking.

Remember when you’re feeling lonely and challenged, it can be helpful to talk to someone and to see that you are not on your own. You could talk to your friends and see how they are feeling about your friend smoking. They might be feeling this same way as you are. You can also talk to a family member or other trusted adult like your teacher.

If you would like to talk more about peer pressure, or anything else that’s worrying you, you can always speak to a counsellor at ChildLine. You can phone 0800 1111, send an email or log in for a 1-2-1 chat.

Take care


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