Information and Advice for Christian Teenagers

CHAPTER 1

DO THE RIGHT THING

Let's get it straight right from the start: the way you behave reveals how serious you are about being a Christian. It's that simple. If God's really in your life He will make some big permanent changes - and we are not talking about being some kind of goody-goody. It goes deeper than that.

Some of you already know from experience that too many Christian teenagers behave badly at times. You may even wonder if they are really Christians at all. Some could tell you more about Chart music and television than the major truths of the Bible. Living God's way brings security, satisfaction, safety and purity. Ignoring God's instructions will lead to recklessness, impurity, indifference, worldliness, selfishness and restlessness.

There's no point in being a Christian if you don't intend to live the right way. God is always right and knows what you need. At times you may not like to admit that, but it's true. He loves you and He knows what's best for you. It makes sense to listen to what He says. If we don't draw close to Him and live for Him we will miss out on what we really need. What we want isn't that important. Christians only half-committed to God can turn people away from Him. If people don't see sincerity and reality in our lives they will have a good reason to turn their backs on the truth.

This chapter highlights some of the problems Christian teenagers face and offers some down-to-earth solutions. You will find truths here you can take out into the world and put into practice. But, be warned - it isn't easy.

We will also take a special look at smoking, a growing problem among young people. Sadly, some Christian teenagers smoke too, while others suffer from its effects at home or work. The final section will help smokers give up their dangerous habit and encourage non-smokers to speak out intelligently against smoking whenever they get the chance.

BEING A NORMAL CHRISTIAN

So, how does God want you to live? What's the right lifestyle for you? What's right and what's wrong?Here, briefly, are just some of God's instructions based on the teaching of the Bible.

It's important to choose your friends carefully. You won't get on with someone unless you agree. Common sense really. Clearly your closest friends must be Christians who are making an effort to live for God. Avoid those who say they are Christians but obviously aren't in the slightest interested in being Christ-like. Their general behaviour will give them away. Take time to think about the way they live, then consider God's standards and all that He calls you to.

The Bible tells us that a Christian has nothing in common with someone who doesn't believe, or with those who obviously don't care about sticking to the Christian way of life (Amos 3:3, NKJV; 2nd Corinthians 6:14,15). If you insist in regularly hanging out with such people, they will make it more difficult for you to do the right thing. There is a difference between casual friendships and serious close friendships. It's good to have unsaved casual friends - if you never had any acquaintances you would have less opportunity to share about the Lord! But close, steady relationships with those who are not Christians will most likely leave you compromised by muddling up your priorities and diluting your commitment to Christ. If all of this seems extreme to you, go right now to the Scriptural evidence presented in the section Friendship and Forgiveness. God wants to see true unity among Christian friends.

Try hard to keep your mind and body pure. Refuse sexual immorality the instant you're exposed to it. You'll find plenty of impurity on TV, in magazines, on the Net and among friends at school. Don't get stressed out about being different. Don't just cave in and be like the rest. God offers you something that's pollution-free. Give your body to God for the rest pf your life and keep your sexuality for your marriage partner. (We will take a closer look at sexual problems in chapter 2.)

Reject anything obscene or crude. Avoid coarse or rude jokes. Try to control your sense of humour while making sure you take time to have fun. Being happy is like good medicine. So share a spoonful with somebody.

Try your very best to live a clean life. You belong to God, so set yourself apart for Him and allow Him to shape your conduct. Give yourself totally to Him and don't be afraid to be very different to the world. You should resist anything bad, no matter what and even expose it for what it really is. Get you mind tuned in to only good things and think about them. Check everything carefully to make sure God approves. If you're not sure, examine the Bible carefully.

God wants you to learn to love and respect yourself. Look after your body as well as your mind. What about the healthy option? Eat the right thing. Think about how much junk food you eat. Maybe you should cut down on all fried food, hamburgers, curries, crisps and sweets. Don't just go by what tastes good. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, bread and potatoes. Are you looking after your teeth? Should you be getting more exercise? Are you spending too much time in front of a computer screen? Sometimes it seems that these things don't matter, but those who fall into bad habits during their teenage years often suffer from poor health in later life. Time goes past very quickly. Your body will respond to what you eat.

Make the most of your time for God. A sinful world needs busy Christians who are really trying to follow Jesus. A selfish lifestyle will leave you unfulfilled in old age. You don't want to end up so bored and aimless that you just sit there opening your junk mail while watching morning TV.

Have absolutely nothing to do with the devil and the occult. Resist him and everything he does. Don't listen to any of his enticing lies. Hate everything bad. Cling to God and to whatever is good. That way the devil will have a very hard time getting the better of you.

Learn to control your anger. It only causes trouble and conflict. Don't try to get even. Don't be rude with people and don't use bad language. (Count to ten and think again!) Try not to tell lies, even so-called white ones, and don't exaggerate. Don't bend the facts or try to distort the truth to gain an advantage.

Behave properly when people get on your nerves. Speak the plain truth in love and try your very best to live in peace with everyone. Don't run people down behind their backs or say you hate them. Hate is a terrible thing. You don't mean it. You wouldn't like it if someone said they hated you. Do to others what you would like them to do to you.

Take time to help and comfort those who are going through hard times. We need one another. When we are suffering it's nice to know that someone cares - even if it's just stomach trouble or toothache. It helps to have people around you who can offer love and comfort. Words are cheap. Show friends you really do care by offering practical help when they need it most.

Don't be selfish and greedy. Don't worry about money. You can't take it with you! The part of your nature that prefers to do without God can easily get carried away with money. It  's easy to spot those who can't control their income - they try to fill their lives with lots of things they don't really need. Less important things become bigger and better. Money tempts us and trips us up. It can push God into the shade. We can end up spending too much on things we like instead of things we really need. Some Christians act like fools, being led away by harmful desires which end in trouble and emptiness.

A rich business man once confessed that when he had climbed to the very top of the ladder he found there was nothing there!

The world would try to convince us that it's a good idea to work longer hours to get plenty of money. God says that's not smart! "Do not overwork to be rich" (Proverbs 23:4). Use your head. See how quickly money races away from you and disappears! It will never bring contentment into your life, no matter how rich you become.

Don't get on the wrong side of the law. Don't take more than your fair share. Two Christians were walking past a Christian bookshop when the owner opened the door and threw scraps of paper onto the busy street. God and people are watching us. Sometimes we could easily do better.

Make sure you always take time to share your life with God through prayer. Prayer is very important - and sometimes very difficult! If we were honest we would have to admit that there are times when it's easier not to bother. But despite all the problems, get into the habit of talking to God. He tells us in the Bible that He is our Helper and Friend. He really listens.

Do your best to regularly attend church. For a good number of teenagers, going to church is sometimes as dreary as an extra two periods of maths a week at school. To a certain extent this is understandable. Some adults have very real problems with their church meetings! Ask them. However, if you make an effort to think about the choruses you sing and the messages you hear, you might just get a bit more out of it. It seems that some church services are a little behind the times and out of touch, making it difficult for younger people to relate.

Be sure to regularly read and understand God's Word, because it will strengthen you and help you to do the right thing. This is very important. Chapter 3 will tell you more about the Bible. It's heavy going, but try to read it all.

Too many young people give up too soon. They say they can't keep up the high standards. They may even feel like they are missing out. But it takes time to get a hold on God's will for your life. Most Christians learn the hard way. Each day is part of a process that can occasionally be painful. Don't give up on God. He will help you in ways you don't understand. Trust Him through the hard times. That's faith, and you must walk by faith.

Look around for mature, experienced Christians who appreciate what teenagers go through. They won't be religious. They will tell you about their failures and doubts. They will show you how God brought them through to serve Him. They will be only too willing to encourage you and offer you direction. Don't be afraid to cry out for help. It's not a sign of weakness. It's sensible. Never give up. Never!

GOD FIRST, LAST AND IN THE MIDDLE TOO

Sometimes it's impossible to fit God in where we are, even when we think we can! The Bible says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:6, NKJV). It's a big mistake to carelessly wander off down any path we take a fancy to. Can we acknowledge Him on every path we choose? It is extremely important that we allow God to lead us. "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake"(Psalm 23:3, NKJV). In other words, God is revealed in us when we live the right way and do the right thing.

Does our behaviour let others know we have a serious relationship with Him? "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1st Corinthians 10:31, NKJV); "... do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).

Sometimes God has no place in the things we do. Many teenage Christians would feel very uncomfortable trying to acknowledge God in all their ways. Ungodly peer pressure regularly influences careless young believers. Can Christians acknowledge God and keep Him in the centre of their experience when they go to see a movie containing bad language, extreme violence and sex? Are Christians really on the right path when they listen to music that makes a big issue out of godless, sensual things? What do unbelievers think of us and God when we disregard His standards?

We are more likely to fall when we would rather please ourselves. We cannot acknowledge God when we light up a cigarette, watch godless scenarios unfolding on TV, date people who aren't Christians, get distracted by money and position, hobbies and possessions... The list is endless. Is God pleased with our behaviour? Would He go where we go, watch what we watch, listen to and enjoy what we listen to and enjoy? Are we doing all to the glory of God? Are we really trying? These are tough questions. And we are all called to examine ourselves.

But wait! You don't need to give up, no matter how hard it seems.

Let's take it one step further. Life's not just about doing the right thing and choosing the right path. Life is really about a Person. The Bible says, "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Sounds extreme. But it's normal.

Churchy Christians can get a bit too religious! Call it formalism or environmental restrictions! But it's an easy mistake to make if you're not careful. They have all the bits and pieces of Christianity carefully labelled and filed neatly into relevant drawers. But instead of knowing Him, their heads are stuffed with knowledge about Him. We must move up higher. "Many Christians are more interested in the principles of God than in the person of God. They give to God, receive from God and work on His behalf, but they never enter into an intimate relationship with Him" (Judson Cornwall, Meeting God).

Knowing about God is vital, but we can't stop there. He's real, no matter what your feelings may try to tell you. More than anything else, desire to get to know Christ more and more. He will respond. Tell Him you want Him with you every step of the way along every path He chooses for you. Take time to raise your voice in prayer and praise. Worship Him! He is great and greatly to be praised!

Do the best you can to live the right way, but always make sure you are hungry for more of God Himself. Knowledge will not satisfy you. You will run out of steam and end up with a meaningless religious routine. There is no victorious power in head knowledge alone.

LONELINESS, YOUTH CLUBS, ENTERTAINMENT and SCHOOL

Teenagers face lots of obstacles when they try to live the right way. Peer pressure can become the big problem, mostly at school. Even Christian friends, who should know better, can trip you up too. So what should you do? Don't let loneliness rob you of a strong Christian lifestyle. Many mid-teens drift into harmful habits and relationships because they have difficulty finding Christian friends who are really making a serious effort for God. But it doesn't make sense to do what's wrong because you can't find someone to do right things with.

If you can, read some quality Christian books, especially those intended for young people. If, like many teenagers today, you're not much of a reader, see if you can get along to the occasional Christian concert (a responsible one), or maybe you could rent out a selection of videos to help you grow as a Christian. If you really are on a downer, talk to your parents and possibly church youth club leaders. If they let you down, and they might, continue to pray that God will lead you into something worthwhile.

Don't be tempted to get romantically involved with someone just to put the time in and give your life some meaning. It would probably be more trouble than it's worth. Really! Ask around, if you don't already know.

Remember: all the alternatives to living God's way are bad news. They do not work. This is an obvious truth many teenagers overlook. God is real and if you trust Him He will strengthen you and lift you up. Have faith in God.

Generally speaking it's a good idea to join a Christian youth club or fellowship. But some of you may have been surprised and disappointed during your first few hours of fellowship with other Christian' teenagers. A few members were not what you expected. Two teenage girls related some of their experiences with young believers at a church club: some were openly indecent and crude: they didn't really expect to see that boy drop his trousers and show off his weird boxer shorts!

They also heard bad language. Many of the teenagers seemed to watch a lot of TV and listen to nothing but chart music. There didn't seem to be a lot of respect and restraint. Some were obviously there for the boy/girl thing. The girls watched wasteful and childish food fights. There seemed to be a general lack of discipline somehow...

There are various reasons why teenagers behave this way. To begin with, not all regular attenders are really Christians and some of those who are may be going through their rebellious or apathetic stage. So don't be too quick to judge. It could be that they are not being properly disciplined and encouraged at home. Parents may not be spending enough time with their kids, educating them in the ways of the Lord. But a sensitive and caring church is more than happy to open its doors to all teenagers, to guide them into life-saving Christian truths.

When you are young you are continually dealing with your own immaturity and developing personality. It's part of growing up. It just seems that some teenagers grow up slower than others! If a youth club lacks a strong code of Christian conduct (preferably written down and pinned to a wall), and the muscle to enforce it, teenagers will be more inclined to misbehave.

Whatever happens, don't give up on a youth club too soon. It's much better to get involved with a Christian group than to get attached to a secular club (one not concerned with religion') .If you are dissatisfied with your youth club, tell your parents and together try to discuss your grievances with youth leaders and the pastor of the church. It could be that because of your personality you find it difficult to fit in with other teenagers. That happens and that's OK. Each person is unique.

Perhaps the problem lies with some leaders themselves. Although this may appear to be unlikely, it's a fact of life that Christian youth leaders can be careless or inattentive. Some youth leaders are prayerful and dedicated, interested in the quality of activities. Some are not so careful. They may be under pressure because of private circumstances beyond their control. Like many teenagers they may be struggling to live the right way and do the right thing. They may have fallen into serious sin. (Remember, a person is not bad through and through because he does something bad. He needs love, help and forgiveness.) Whatever the case, the reasons for your discontentment need to be dealt with. Don't let things trundle on and on if you are not happy.

Youth leaders must lead by example. Just like those who have a God-given prominent role in the life of the local church, their private lives need to be right before God - otherwise they are not suitable. Have they paid their car tax? TV licence? Do they drive the church bus carelessly? Do they smoke? Smoking is addictive, and no one can serve two masters. It will show in their conduct. What is their daily attitude to God and life in general? Is Christ reflected in their lifestyle? Church leadership must ensure that all youth leaders show themselves to be determined to do the right thing. No one is perfect, but an ongoing spiritual attitude is essential. Streetwise teenagers are quick to spot hypocrisy, using it to lower their own standards and excuse their unacceptable behaviour.

Working in a youth club is a ministry to strengthen and encourage young people, protect them from the dangers of the world, and see them grow strong in Christ. Fully committed leaders desire to see you maturing naturally and spiritually. They know only too well that the church youth club is not just about playing games, having fun, going places and eating at McDonald's.

It's easier to do the right thing if you're cautious about the world of entertainment and the media. Be careful what you read and be very careful about what you watch. Television, radio, books, magazines, videos and the Internet entertain and share all sorts of information with the public. Generally this is a good thing, but on the whole they create and communicate their own godless world-view which is unacceptable to Christians. Put any secular programme or website you like to the test and see for yourself. Is it in tune with God's Word and rules?

Ask yourself this, too: Are you strong enough to resist the world's influence?

The entertainment and information world is never interested in God's laws or what He wants for His people. In fact the media is part of the world's corrupt system. "American research shows that the average teenager sees 9230 acts of sex or innuendos encouraging sexual involvement a year [and] the average household sees between 70 and 90 television commercials per day" (Josh McDowell).

Prolonged exposure to godless influences can easily leave you with a dodgy view of morality. Dividing lines can become blurred. Television and the Net can subtly eat away at your high standards. And most alarmingly, it can poison your mind with everything from extreme pornography to excessive materialism (nothing spiritual - just matter, what you are aware of through your senses).

Chart music and accompanying videos often preach a warped set of values - mainly sexual and material. Should Christian teenagers be into chart music? Hold on! Controversial question! Are you happy about the behaviour of singers and groups? Do you agree with the things they sing about? What are they living for? Do these question irritate you? Why?

The media world manipulates the mind quite easily until you're comfortable with the lifestyles of the soap characters and the undisciplined behaviour of the chat show guests. Maybe we should all think again (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:17-24) about what place the world has in our lives (1st John 2:15 -17). "Separate yourself from the world and at once you will be in new surroundings favourable to the keeping of God's will" (Richard Wurmbrand). In other words, you'll go further with God without it.

And what about the world? Is the world your friend or your enemy? What does the Bible say? Read carefully Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:1-3, James 4:4, and 1st John 2:15-17. Discuss these verses at length with a mature Christian and then ask yourself if you are influenced by the way the godless world around you behaves and thinks.

Does the influence of the world make it harder to do the right thing? It certainly does not make it easier. What do you think God is telling us when He says we are to keep ourselves "unstained [or, uncontaminated] by the world" (James 1:27)? Is the world dirty? Does it have some kind of disease? Can we really catch something from it? Check out the last chapter.

Some teenagers at school (your peers) will be quick to put you down if you behave badly, maybe losing your temper and cursing or something like that. So, you are human & You will come across people who say things like, "Huh! And you're supposed to be a Christian." Following Christ isn't easy - especially at the start. People who aren't Christians usually don't know what they're talking about. They might call you a goody-goody because you are trying to live the right way. Don't let it bother you. Politely ignore them.

According to The World Book Dictionary a goody-goody is someone "who makes too much of being good. " This sort of goodness is "artificial". It's a fake. You're not trying to be good just for the sake of it or to get a pat on the back. That would be a bit sad. God expects good behaviour from those who follow Him because He knows what you and others need. He wants you to be safe and sensible. The world urgently needs responsible, hard-working, honest people.

Look carefully at the lives of those who dare to call you goody-goody. What do you see? Selfishness, greed, foolishness, addictions, hatred, dishonesty, sexual immorality, recklessness. The world is in a mess because of these things. Watch the news. Some of your regular loud-mouthed critics don't have much self-control, do they? What sensible person would want to be like them? They sometimes can't be bothered going to school or work and don't make much of an effort when they are there. They stay out far too late. They smoke, they steal, they curse. They tell lies, get into silly arguments and start fights. They are rude and crude, nasty and cruel. They have no respect. They think life is some sort of game where they can be cool and smart, but they end up hurting themselves and causing problems for other people. Nothing worthwhile there! So don't pay any attention when they ignorantly call you a goody-goody, or worse. What do they have that's better? They need to think about their selfishness and sinfulness. Their lives lack real quality. See if you can help them. Without God's help we could be the same.

You should always start out each day determined to do your best. God does not expect perfection! We need His help, wisdom, guidance and forgiveness. "... the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1st John 1:8, 9, NKJV). When we are truly sorry and tell Him about the wrong things in our lives, He washes away all the dirt. We are saved and secure.

Don't think about giving up just because you don't get it right every time. If it wasn't for the goodness of God we would all get disillusioned and depressed. Stick at it! Press on! If you sin, go back to God and ask Him to forgive you. He loves you and understands your weaknesses. Tell your ignorant friends' that God never said you would be flawless. Tell them you're doing your best and you intend to learn from your mistakes and weaknesses. Be confident that you have chosen the better way.

If you are put on the spot and questioned harshly about your faith, keep your answers brief. Don't get worried or lose your cool if they ask you questions like these: "Why do you believe in God when you have never seen Him?"; "Can you get God to do a miracle now?"; "Can you walk on water?"; "Why does God allow suffering?"; "Do you believe in angels and the devil?  "; "Who made God?"; "Why don't you believe in evolution?  "

So, what about evolution? What is it? Well, evolution replaces God's creative powers with a complicated process of natural development spanning millions and millions of years. In other words - we just happened! Always remember that evolution is barely a theory - someone has pointed out that it lacks a "conceptual framework". There is no clear evidence to prove that it has ever taken place. Evolution is not a scientific fact, no matter what you are taught in school books and no matter what you see on TV.

There are many Christian books on the subject. It is not weird and unscientific to believe in creation instead of evolution. You are not a glorified ape and monkeys are not "man's closest relatives". "Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups  " (Professor Louis Bounoure). "Scientists who go about teaching that evolution is a fact of life are great con-men, and the story they are telling may be the greatest hoax ever. In explaining evolution, we do not have one iota of fact" (Dr. T.N. Tahmisian). "The probability of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop" (Professor Edwyn Conklin).

Don't be put off if you are insulted or made fun of because of your faith in God and the way you live. Christ was mocked too. He said: "What happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for My sake! Be glad then, yes be tremendously glad - for your reward in Heaven is magnificent" (Matthew 5:12, Phillips). Don't be ashamed of Christ. Dare to be different!

ROMANCE AND DATING

Life can be full of things that are really worthwhile, but surprisingly the modern notions of romance and dating are not included. To hear people talk you would think romance is very important. But, surprisingly it's not. The modern concept of romance is the product of an empty world desperate for relationships, fulfilment and intimacy.

Women's and girls' magazines positively drip with the ins and outs of romance and dating: how to date and who you should date; what to wear and how to wear it; how to be sexy (what  's that got to do with romance?); what to say; where you should go on that very first exciting date. But, does it really matter?

Romance can be a pretty harrowing experience that all too often ends in emotional upsets, depression or tough sexual problems. It's nice to be on a date - maybe - but what does it really do for you? Do you need it? Are you prepared for all the pressures? Will you be able to give enough time to God, or will your boyfriend/girlfriend always come first? And, if you are going steady, are you old enough to know what true love is? Are you aiming for marriage? If not, why bother?

The popular TV-style idea of romance and dating, the attitudes you are constantly exposed to at school, always revolves around looks, personality and performance - the wrong values. "He's gorgeous!" " Look at her!" You know how it goes. We can't print it all here! But in truth, these reactions are way out of line. They are hollow and cheap. School books and folders reveal just who is taken in by petty attractions. What's on yours?

Good looks are no guarantee of decency and responsibility. A great personality doesn't mean you will find strong Christian character and the commitment to high standards that go with it. Talented people can be big-headed and thoroughly obnoxious. It's very important you understand this. Just think! The Christian teenager sitting in the corner with the pimples, glasses and double chin could be the one to offer you a rich, meaningful relationship all the way into marriage! It's cruel and unfair to go by appearances. It's immature and careless to be taken in by good looks and personality alone. Think about it.

If you are determined to seek out romance you should prepare yourself for the stress and pitfalls of dating. You will inevitably be compromised if you date someone who is not a Christian. You will come face to face with some big problems right from the start. Anyone can go to church and say Christian things through the week and at the church youth club, but that doesn't make him or her right for you. Check out a person  's standards. Is he or she really a Christian and really determined to put Christ first?

Improper dating will almost certainly cause you sexual problems at some stage - even if you are both Christians. Being alone together will eventually arouse passions and ignite the powerful sexual chemistry inside you. Touching can become too intimate. Kissing can suddenly become strongly sexual. There is no need to yawn in each other's mouths. (Don't go by what you see on children's TV and in the soaps.) There are sensible ways to touch, kiss and hug, but let's face facts - a little intimacy can quickly kill off self-control. It's no laughing matter. You don't want to experience the heavy load of guilt the next day.

Some girls should give attention to what they wear. Let's get real about this. You should expect teenagers to be easily aroused by anything short, low-cut or too tight, and who could blame them? Many Christian girls are annoyed by this. "Why should I dress a certain way just because some boys can't control themselves?" they ask. Good point.

Surely any girl with a brain and any serious level of Christian commitment knows that when it comes to clothes there is a clear line she must not cross over. Subtlety is worth aiming for. You are making a big mistake if you think it is all right to flaunt your assets! A girl lowers herself when she is "cheaply and blatantly provocative  " (a tart). Of course it is true that sometimes, no matter what is worn, a girl can still expect to get a stupid and undisciplined reaction from someone somewhere. It's inevitable in school, especially during mixed PE lessons and visits to the swimming pool. (Some parents question these practices.) But if you are harassed or even touched be sure to tell an adult you know you can trust.

Christian girls need to have the edge on immature boys - those who whistle or stare. If this happens to you, don't take it lightly. You don't want to give the wrong impression. You could easily encourage them. Stand up to them and tell them to grow up. You're not a tasty piece of meat to be eyed up and down lustfully. Don't be rude. Be firm.

Don't be too easy-going in your relationships with the opposite sex, especially when it comes to dating. If you approach dating carelessly you will certainly open the door to immoral behaviour, and regret it for many years to come. It is a serious mistake for young Christians to lose their virginity on a half-baked date with someone they know they would never marry.

Perhaps you have already experienced the heartache of going too far. If so, bear in mind that you are particularly equipped to share your experiences with those you know who are facing tough sexual problems. They would benefit from hearing about all that you have been through.

Virginity is a precious gift you can give away to the person you are lovingly committed to for life. It's easy to lose your virginity in a few minutes of private passion, but it's impossible to get it back. There are five unmarried teenage girls within shouting distance of the author's home who never thought they would be pushing buggies so soon in their lives. It happens too easy. Don't think it couldn  't happen to you.

Do you want good advice? Don't be in a hurry to date. Better still - don't allow yourself to be programmed by the world! Be free to discover who you really are. Allow God to lead you into life and a rich relationship with Himself. If it is your intention to seek a partner, ask Him to lead you into marriage when the time is right. Don't waste time worrying about romance. It's much too fickle and unstable. Get out there, enjoy life and ask God to show what really matters, and when.

FRIENDSHIP AND FORGIVENESS

Although this may not go down well in some circles, experience does teach you that a Christian can only really have a good, worthwhile relationship with another Christian. A good Christian relationship depends on common ground. There are good reasons for this.

Seeking lasting friendship with those who are not Christians will inevitably lead to compromise. Relationships have to be taken seriously. Spending too much time in the company of those who are not Christians will ultimately pull down or subtly adapt a Christian's commitment to Christ. It may be hard to see at first, but it will happen.

At the very least Christians should always have it in mind to seek out the right kind of relationships. It's logical - a Christian who wants to please God and do the right thing will not feel comfortable with the attitudes, lifestyle, beliefs and probably behaviour of someone who is not a Christian. You just can't walk in different directions. You must decide. How could you have a worthwhile friendship with someone who is lost and not care about his or her future?

Then there are those who are consistently reckless, hypocritical or half-hearted in their Christian walk. Your daily habit of doing things God's way won't rest easily with people like this. Remember too that the bad habits of others may soon rub off on you.

A true friendship will not involve crude talk or a misplaced sense of humour: "The key-note of your conversation should not be coarseness or silliness or flippancy - which are quite out of place" (Ephesians 5:4, Phillips). Nor will a genuine Christian friendship involve cheating, worldliness, hypocrisy or greed. Your Christian friends should always be making an effort to live the right way and, if they are not, it's never too late to start again!

True friendship always involves:

1) consistent mature Christian love;

2) sincere forgiveness;

3) spiritual and practical support, and

4) genuine fellowship (see Proverbs 17:17; Luke 17:1-3; Ecclesiastes 4:9,10; Galatians 6:2; 1st John 1:7).

If these are all lacking, a friendship will certainly be harmful. If some are lacking, you need to be very careful indeed.

True Christian friends love each other (John 13:35) as Christ commanded (15:12). A real friend will not be two-faced (Romans 12:9). A consistently hypocritical person should be politely refused friendship (there are lots of inoffensive ways to do this). True friends will put each other first (v 10) and give thought to each other's needs (v 13). Always remember that love does no harm (13:10) and only seeks to help others and build them up (15:2).

If you become a careful observer you will soon discover that there are teenage Christians who are immature, lazy, confused and messed up by a world they are powerless to resist. They can be worn down by misconceptions, fears, limitations, illnesses and spiritual attacks. Christians make mistakes, but if they are really trying to overcome their difficulties and press on, they will allow God to make them more like Jesus. Those who have been Christians for many years, or claim to have been, and noticeably lack character, are demonstrably unsuitable for true friendship. Something is very wrong.

Our Christian journey through life should make us more like Christ - not leave us like those who do not believe in Him or can't even be bothered making the effort to live for Him.

Understanding and Applying Christian Forgiveness

  "Let there be no more bitter resentment or anger, no more shouting [or quarrelling], or slander, and let there be no bad feeling of any kind among you. Be kind to each other, be compassionate. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31,32, Phillips). "Be patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you. And above all else, be truly loving" (Colossians 3:12, 13, Phillips).

Forgiveness among Christians, and between true Christian friends, is essential if they want to keep the peace and have a strong relationship. But can forgiveness be separated from Christian common sense and discipline? Let's see.

We find in the New Testament that those who caused trouble were ultimately put out of churches because they were not genuinely sorry for their behaviour and because they made no effort to change. "Don't associate with the brother whose life is undisciplined, and not in accordance with the tradition [sound Christian teaching] which you received from us" (2nd Thessalonians 3:6, Phillips). Ongoing indifference, lack of commitment and troublesome behaviour lead to justifiable rejection. But don't think of these people as your enemies. Christ would not have us turn away completely from those who have no one else to guide them.

Sloppy Christians and religious pseudo-Christians (in name only) can cause some committed teenage Christians to stumble or fall. Some knowingly and irresponsibly try to pass on bad attitudes and habits. Jesus Himself warned us, "It is inevitable that there should be pitfalls, but alas [great grief, trouble or distress] to the man who is responsible for them" (Luke 17:1, Phillips). He then went on to define forgiveness: "If your brother [and it appears we are talking about a true Christian here] sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you saying I repent [I am sorry],' you shall forgive him [and no longer hold resentment]" (Luke 17:3).

A Christian friend who wrongs you ought to feel genuinely sorry before you offer your forgiveness. A true Christian friend will sooner or later apologise sincerely and meaningfully and change his or her behaviour, because he or she wants to develop as a Christian and lovingly do what's right before God. It is unwise to continually welcome back so-called friends' who time and time again make it plain that they are not really sorry at all. You could do without the hassle and emotional upset.

A word of warning: it's impossible to stay close to God while you have sinful anger and hatred locked up in your heart. Thoughts of revenge will fill you with bitterness. God alone is Judge. Ask Him to give you wisdom in your search for real, godly friends.

STRESS AND SUFFERING

Christian teenagers are usually reasonably strong and healthy. But because life is often complicated and seemingly unfair, many suffer from emotional stress. Just growing up produces all kinds of problems which can lead to rebellion, bitterness, depression, suicide, and cynicism (doubting the goodness or sincerity of others, being grumpy and sneering). If you're not careful the daily business of life itself can easily become a back-breaking burden.

It would be very nice indeed if our lives brought us no problems and one day we just fell asleep and went to Heaven. But no - life can be tough. It has a way of kicking you hard when you're down. Who can deny this? There are those who need to wake up to the unpleasant truth that life will hurt - no matter what they do or believe. When the heat's on you may find yourself shaking your fist at God, angry that He allowed you and others to get hurt. But your anger and bitterness will only make things worse. Don't waste time arguing with God. You can't win. He is always right. Don't put off the inevitable. You must press on with Him, pain or no pain.

Jesus said that in this world we will experience trouble and upset. Elsewhere in the Bible we are told to endure hardship and discover our inner strength through our many weaknesses. In fact, if we are prepared to work at it and be disciplined, difficult times are opportunities to grow as Christians. Various trials test and mature our faith. Through pain and suffering we can learn to be patient and patience in turn strengthens our relationship with God. Gritty endurance in God produces character and makes us more like Christ.

We need the pain of life! Salvation became a reality through Christ's emotional pain and agonising death. Hard times ought to turn us to the Lord: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word ... It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes" (Psalm 119:67; 71, NKJV). Hard times can be used to burn off sin and check cool indifference.

God reminds us He is always there beside us through the fire and the flood. It is wrong to always expect Him to protect us from frightening and stressful experiences. It won't happen! He is with us as we pass through each frustrating, painful trial. We must endure to the very end.

But many teenagers do not experience the benefits of hard times. They back off or collapse during times of hardship. If we are willingly submitted to Christ we will eagerly learn from Him. He will teach us how to endure the endless weaknesses of mind and body. Our relationship with Him will grow and produce results. Obedience and faith together are the key to rest and true relief.

Too often Christians experience unnecessary hardship because they try to carry too much themselves. Others blame God for standing by while they suffer, ignoring the fact that for years their relationship with Christ has been steadily cooling off, probably because of sin. (Sin warps our understanding of God.) Instead of stumbling along in the dark they should be walking before God in the light, trusting Him fully, turning over every area into His capable hands.

As we allow God to lead us, we come to see what kind of a Person He really is. He will never push us too hard or give us huge burdens we could never carry. He knows how much we can take and when. His burden is light, the product of His wisdom and love.

Make Jesus your Lord and not just your Saviour. Turn away from earth's distractions. Life with Him should be fully satisfying. He strengthens us and helps us to cope with life's pain. In Him we really can find rest for our souls. Many Christians suffer terribly. Most of us cannot come even close to understanding the misery some believers go through. At times suffering seems to make no sense at all. Christians old and young become prisoners in their own bodies while others lose their personalities and minds. Sometimes there are no easy answers for a struggling faith and a sneering world. But ultimately faith lays hold of God and won't let go. Trusting God is more important than knowing why. What else can we do?

It may seem like God is leading you through trials too hard to bear. Perhaps you are deeply depressed or suffering terrible pain. You may be broken-hearted, not wanting to go on. The future may be frightening and bleak. Submit to His authority and live for Him right through to the end.

SPREAD THE WORD

Teenage Christians are being watched! Take a look over your shoulder ...

There are teenagers who are on the lookout for reasons to run away from Jesus Christ. They are watching you carefully to see what sort of a person you are and what effect being a Christian has on your life.

So far we have seen some of the many benefits of living the Christian life. It positively affects your mind and body. It makes you feel like you are somebody. It gives you a purpose and a reason to live. It makes you wise and productive, honest and reliable. The Christian life offers you power over a variety of things that would lead you away from God. Following God keeps you safe.

How do you behave when other teenagers are around, at school, college or work? Are you trying your best to set a good example? Are you concerned about those who do not know the truth? They need to hear it. How do you cope with teenagers' reasons for not becoming a Christian? They have plenty of excuses for avoiding God. Here are some genuine examples given to the author:

 

"Christians seem so goody-goody. I like to have fun and the Christian life is so dead!"

"I'm doing my exams at the moment."

"I'm not ready yet. Maybe if I got someone to try it with me I could manage it."

"I know about some ministers who can't live the Christian life, so what hope have I got? God is really a very complicated guy, so I don't want to talk about it. I sort of believe in it and that is that, so to speak."

"I am not in touch with reality and I don't particularly want to be either, cause it's so awful. I am going to have one hell of a time with no responsibilities."

"If I was a Christian there would be certain things I would have to face up to. I want to leave it for now. If I went 100% for Christ I would have to give up hanging about with my best friend, and I don't want to date a Christian!"

 

These commendably honest statements all display an ignorance of the power and wisdom of God who is able to save, keep and protect. They are ignorant words or maybe just words to hide behind. There is, of course, no legitimate argument against God's salvation. Reasons for avoiding Him are always selfish. Most mid-teens want to duck heavy issues about sin and eternity - and who could blame them! They don't want their lifestyle threatened.

But nevertheless, they need to deal with their sin as soon as possible. Slippery excuses ignore the inevitable - someday we all will have to stand before God, no matter what reasons we had for turning our backs on Him. How tragic to avoid His love, power and salvation for the sake of short-lived pleasure' found in drink, parties, relationships, sex, money, position, influence... These are poor reasons for living.

Be patient with those you know who are not Christians. Don't come on too heavy. You might sicken them. Tell them in your own words that they are just wasting time on a one-way ticket to God's judgement. The longer they wait, the worse it gets: "... because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God" (Romans 2:5, NASB). There are no second chances. Remind them that they can  't even be sure about tomorrow.

Be honest, too. Let them know that being a Christian isn't easy, but in the long run it's the best way to live. God wouldn't offer them salvation if it wasn't worthwhile. The Christian lifestyle must be a good thing ! There are no workable alternatives. God's smart. He knows what He's talking about. He knows what's best. A few years of pleasure are not worth an eternity separated from God and all those who tried to share God's truths.

Pray for your unsaved acquaintances. Ask God to give you wisdom to cope with their understandably selfish and ignorant excuses. Maybe you can remember only too well the way you behaved before you became a Christian. Never give up. If you are faithful you may see God drawing teenagers to Christ, so just be willing and ready to do your part.

ALCOHOL

Too many Christian teenagers drink alcohol. Usually this is because of peer pressure. Sometimes irresponsible adults who never drink to excess (so they say) encourage young Christians to start. But teenagers and young adults usually struggle with self-control. When tempted they can easily take too much.

Alcohol is not well known for being the Christian's friend. If you're not careful it may unzip your godly standards. It is always most at home in the company of those who do not know Christ where its effects can be chaotic. It will try to draw you into places you would normally avoid. It will promise you a little comfort when you're feeling a bit depressed. It will waste your money (you get nothing worthwhile in return). Alcohol has nothing to offer you. The fact that the world makes such a ridiculous fuss about it should be a clear enough warning for any Christian.

Alcohol, simply defined, is a poison that slows down the brain and in large quantities can permanently damage the liver. It can also damage cells in the heart muscle and ultimately weaken them. Alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of heart disease (recent research), but so does a good diet and regular exercise. And anyway, drink's bad effects outweigh the so-called good effects!

Alcohol in small amounts increases the heart rate and blood pressure. When an individual becomes very drunk the pulse is rapid and feeble. Alcohol sticks' red blood cells together and makes it difficult for them to carry a vital supply of oxygen to various parts of the body. Regular heavy drinkers will not escape the adverse effects of alcohol. Around 40,000 deaths each year are alcohol-related.

It would be best for you to stay away from alcohol - and don't even think about getting drunk. Don't be fooled by the sanitised flashy advertisements you may see on TV. They don  't tell the true, tragic story. There's nothing desirable about alcohol. It  's bad news. Too many crimes and acts of violence are related to the abuse of alcohol. 66% of suicides are alcohol-related; 50% of murders and 50% of rapes are perpetrated by people under the influence of drink; there are 100,000 convictions every year for drunkenness; over 5000 mid-teens are convicted for alcohol-related offences each year. Alcohol causes a wide variety of accidents: 1500 road deaths each year are alcohol-related; 30% of pedestrian traffic accidents involve alcohol; 20% of accidents at work are related to alcohol.

Alcohol is an anesthetic drug that suppresses, or numbs brain activity. This encourages abandonment of inhibitions and can lead to alarming mood swings and even depression. In time casual drinkers can become alcoholics and quickly lose control of their lives. Alcohol has a reputation for breaking up families, destroying marriages and encouraging violence and general disorderly behaviour. Alcohol is now banned from football games.

Don't buy the lie. Don't get sucked into the emerging trend that accommodates bars and clubs in the lifestyle of the modern Christian teenager. What's wrong with being different and finding out what really pleases God? Let God keep you safe.

SMOKING

Many teenagers give the impression it's cool to smoke. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most smokers are drug addicts.

Smoking is dangerous - the terrible facts can be read on the following pages. Crossing the road can be dangerous, but that's something we have to do. Deliberately choosing to damage your heath is stupid in the extreme. If you have access to an online computer surf to these websites and discover the full facts about the dangers of smoking and the serious effects of environment tobacco smoke: www.tobacco.org and www.smoke-free.ca

Most people start smoking when they are in their teens. There are various reasons for this - none good. Perhaps they need to be accepted by others their own age (peer pressure); or they want to appear more grown up (whatever that means! ); maybe they just want to boost their image by impressing their friends with cool film star poses and slick ash-flicking.

Whatever their reasons, starting to smoke is a reckless decision. Please don't. The most recent discoveries about smoking have shown that its effects are twice as bad as previously supposed and that passive smokers are particularly at risk. No matter what way you look at it, there's absolutely nothing cool about damaging your body and making your hair, clothes and home stink.

Smoking is an antisocial activity that affects nonsmokers. No right-thinking person wants to be anywhere near cigarette smoke. A cloud of cigarette smoke billowing behind a smoker in a shopping mall could trigger unpleasant breathing difficulties in an asthmatic walking nearby. But how many smokers think about that?

A national survey has shown that cigarette smoke is capable of causing asthma attacks in 83% of asthma sufferers. A spouse may develop serious lung disorders after living for years with a smoker. Many people suffer from a variety of chest complaints which are made worse by so-called friends at work who indiscriminately smoke.

Parents who smoke

Research has revealed that a significant number of teenagers start smoking because they follow their parents' example. You may know someone who has been influenced in this way or perhaps you have struggled with this problem yourself. Adults and older brothers and sisters can set both good and bad examples for young teenagers. Smoking parents who punish their children for smoking have no authority. They are wasting their time. Teenagers are not impressed by parental hypocrisy. They won't listen to a mother or father who tells them they are grounded and then walks off and lights up. Some of your friends at school who are treated this way will just make greater efforts to conceal their dangerous habit.

Unless adults can lead by example it is unlikely they will have any significant effect. "Do as I say, not as I do" has never helped to convince anybody. For example, according to a disillusioned teenager at a local high school, a policewoman and principal who were in the middle of warning a class about the dangers of drugs (including cigarettes) were forced into confessing that they were smokers themselves. (It is worth mentioning that on another occasion the same policewoman told a class of 14-year-olds that drugs were sometimes hidden up smugglers' "*%#es  ".) So, what's the point when professional adults can't lead by example?

Perhaps your parents smoke. Don't get frustrated with them too quickly. Try to understand that they are addicted to the drug nicotine which they take into their lungs every time they inhale cigarette smoke. Regular smokers find it hard to stop smoking because of the effects of nicotine. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream and within a very short time reacts with chemicals in the brain. This in turn causes various sensations which eventually make the smoker crave another cigarette ... and another, and another, and another.

However, regardless of their genuine drug addiction, there can be no doubt that some parents shamelessly neglect their own health and that of their children. They selfishly disregard the mountain of evidence against smoking and, in effect, switch off the voice of their conscience. Compromised by their addiction they ignore the damaging effects of their cigarette smoke on their children's bodies. Adults are often seen smoking around babies and children. It should be noted that cigarette smoke in the home is particularly dangerous. (There are smokers who considerately smoke in private, although research has shown that going to another room is not particularly effective. See the above websites.) The time is surely coming when smoking will be a private addiction.

If family members smoke when you are nearby, or if they are trying really hard to stop (and for some it can be a serious struggle), why not share these facts with them. You've got nothing to lose. Friends at school who smoke or are thinking about starting would also find the following information helpful - if you could ever get them to read it!

And most importantly - PRAY! Cigarettes kill. Pray for those you love who smoke, and be patient. It is often very hard to stop smoking. If you smoke, the following facts will help you to stop. If necessary talk to your parents and your family doctor. If your parents are unable to fully support you because they smoke themselves (compromised), be sure to share your problem with the pastor of your church or a mature Christian - a youth leader perhaps.

Now, please read carefully the following statistics about smoking.

The facts about smoking

  • About one billion smokers world-wide go through five trillion cigarettes each year. The cost in lives and health care is a global disgrace.
  • Almost one third of the entire UK population smoke.
  • Over 70% of smokers have tried at least twice to quit smoking without success.
  • Smoking kills more people per year than heroin addiction, alcohol, cocaine, crack, suicide, murders, fires, car accidents and AIDS all put together. Over 100,000 people die from smoking every year - that's about 300 people a day.
  • Cigarettes contain carcinogens, carbon monoxide, irritants and nicotine. Carcinogens cause cancer. Carbon monoxide damages the blood and reduces its oxygen content. This in turn effects the blood supply to vital organs. Carbon monoxide is found in car exhaust fumes. It is deadly. Red blood cells absorb this lethal poison 200 times faster than oxygen. Irritants cause narrowing of the airways and paralysis of cilia, hair-like cells that help our lungs stay healthy. This paralysis prolongs the time the smoker is exposed to carcinogens and ultimately creates a stubborn stagnant mucus. This can lead to distressing illnesses such as emphysema. Nicotine is the drug that makes people crave cigarettes. It causes addiction. A smoker is addicted to smoking because of nicotine but dies because of the effects of various poisons found in tobacco, such as tar and carbon monoxide.
  • A young teenager smoking for the first time damages his or her body within just 10 seconds.
  • There are known to be over 4000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke. Some are very poisonous indeed and others are powerful irritants. Together they very quickly attack the delicate tissues found in the mouth, throat and lungs. These chemicals are soon carried around the body putting various organs at risk, such as the kidneys and bladder.
  • Cigarettes are addictive: "The compulsion to take a drug on a continuous basis, in order to experience its effects, or to avoid the discomfort of its absence" (The World Health Organisation's definition of an addiction). In cigarettes the drug is nicotine. All regular smokers have a drug problem because of nicotine reacting with chemicals in the brain. Many smokers who have suffered serious damage to their bodies, losing legs or feet for example, are unable to stop smoking. Such is the power of nicotine.
  • The following poisons are found in cigarette smoke: acetone (paint stripper); hydrogen cyanide (poison once used in gas chambers); methanol (rocket fuel); ammonia (floor cleaner); arsenic (lethal poison); dimethylnitrosamine (cancer-provoking); phenol (poisonous solvent); naphthalene (mothballs); butane (lighter fuel); cadmium (component in a car battery); DDT (insecticide); carbon monoxide (poisonous gas in car exhaust fumes). Cigarette smoke contains many cancer-provoking chemicals banned from the workplace by British Health and Safety Regulations.
  • Smoking is known to cause cancer of the mouth, voice box, gullet, breast, windpipe, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix. Smoking causes heart attacks, angina (poor supply of blood to the heart), high blood pressure, brain hemorrhage, gangrene of legs and feet, strokes, bronchitis, emphysema, peptic ulcers, heartburn, impotence and even a type of blindness.
  • Smoking causes 7500 miscarriages a year, premature labour, stillbirth and an increased risk of the baby's death within the first few weeks of life.
  • Only 14% of women manage to give up smoking during pregnancy.
  • A staggering 95% of people with chronic bronchitis are smokers and almost all patients with throat cancer are smokers. 80% of deaths from chronic bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer are due to smoking. 25% of coronary heart disease is due to smoking.
  • Those who give up smoking are up to 8 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers - even after several years.
  • Cigar and pipe smoke are far stronger than cigarette smoke and although not normally inhaled directly they still cause cancer of the lip, tongue, mouth and throat.
  • Smoke in the air is actually more poisonous than smoke inhaled by smokers. Avoid smoke when possible and if necessary politely ask smokers to smoke somewhere else. You have a right to request unpolluted air space. In the United States children have been taken from their parents because of the high risk from cigarette smoke.
  • Smokers are significantly less likely to collect their pension. Studies show that 40% die before they retire.
  • Smoking is a waste of money. The average smoker burns away about 500-800 per year. It is possible for couples to go through over 2000 worth of cigarettes in a year (20 per week each). This is a shocking waste. Sometimes children have to do without or, in an instance known to the author, lend their smoking parents money.
  • The tobacco industry spends 100 million a year promoting its legal killer drug. In contrast, the Government spends over 4 million a year warning people of the dangers. To make matters worse, the Government hauls in 16 million A DAY in tobacco tax! Money or health?
  • Smoking-related diseases cost the NHS an estimated 1.5 million a day, or about 550 million every year (Source: Quit Smoking by Dr. Chris Steele).

The risk to teenagers and children

  • Young people whose parents smoke will likely become smokers themselves. Even if they don't many of them will suffer from meningitis, chest infections, asthma, aggravated colds and even leukemia - all through inhaling their parents' cigarette smoke.
  • Children whose parents smoke are 7 times more likely to smoke than children whose parents don't. That  's what a bad example can do.
  • 75% of children or teenagers who smoke have at least one parent who smokes.
  • If both parents are average smokers in the home, their children who breathe in their smoke (passive smoking) will smoke what amounts to 60-90 cigarettes in just one year. This should be a criminal offence.
  • Although it is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under 16 it is estimated that under 16s spend tens of millions a year to maintain their smoking addiction.
  • 94% of teenagers are addicted to tobacco after smoking just 4 cigarettes and 75% of all smokers are addicted to nicotine before they are 18.
  • It is estimated that approximately 130,000 people under the age of 16 start smoking in the UK each year, and things are getting worse, especially among girls. In Northern Ireland (where this work was written), where tobacco causes a quarter of all premature deaths, 31% of 15-year-old girls are smokers.
  • Research carried out in 1995 revealed a significant link between cot deaths and smoking. If both parents smoke, a baby is 5 times more likely to die.

24 Reasons to ban smoking

  • 1994 experts released the findings of the longest, most extensive study ever undertaken into tobacco use. The report - the result of 40 years of research - revealed that the health risks from smoking are now twice what earlier studies had shown. Smoking is now clearly linked to 24 FATAL diseases and complaints causing the death of a smoker every ten seconds. Professor Richard Peto, a leader of the study team, said: "Our new study provides details as to exactly what diseases the smokers are dying from, but it's the grand total that really matters. It now seems that about half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit."
  • The present Government (1997) has been repeatedly criticised for not doing enough to combat smoking addictions. Besides collecting revenue from tobacco tax, it has stubbornly refused to ban tobacco advertising and still allows killer drug sponsorship by tobacco companies. "It cannot be emphasised often enough how dangerous smoking is. The evidence against tobacco continues to grow. We need a rethink from this Government which is still negotiating with the tobacco industry. Stopping smoking cannot just be left to health education" (Dr. Jane Wilde).

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