Writing Contest: Second Place - Creative Writing

Regulation for a Friend

John Kammerer, St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati, OH (Teacher: James Jurgens)

The teenage years, the point in a young man's life where he either gets completely lost and goes astray or follows the path to manhood which his elders would love to see him follow. This was the situation for James Hawthorne, known by his friends as Jimi H after the well-known Jimi Hendrix. James, a sophomore at Fern Valley High in central Ohio, was the lead singer and guitarist of his newly formed band, Mystical Reality. He was definitely a natural. He had known the guitar ever since he can remember: His dad, the former lead guitarist of another band, taught him everything he knew. His strumming, picking, and soloing was the only way he had left to connect with his dad, who died in a freak car accident after a late-night performance. I'd be lying if I told you that James didn't get everything he wanted: girls, entertainment, and plenty of spending money gained from the inheritance he and his mother split after his father's death. He was an idol at Fern Valley. Every girl wanted to be with him and his long blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes. They wanted his soothing voice to sing songs to them and only them. He was not always this popular, though. He owed much of his social reputation to the senior members in his band, Ricky and Phil. He placed much trust in them and honored their friendship, but over time, he began to worry that the two might not be the best role models for him after all.

Ricky and Phil, the most avid concert goers of the entire school, often encountered underage smoking, and decided to start early at the age of seventeen. Recently, James had not seen much of the two at their normal lunch table and worried that they were becoming addicted to cigarettes, for their Facebook pages clearly revealed that they had started. During the last-period economics class they shared together, James confronted them and said to them, "You don't realize what you are doing. No one even thinks it is cool to smoke and the smell that lingers on the both of you is a big turn-off. If you don't stop, I am leaving the band." Ricky replied "I don't see what the big deal is. Most teenagers like us think it is cool to smoke. It helps us relax and enjoy the music at concerts. We fit in." This was the last conversation James had with his friends who had now moved on to more harmful, illegal drugs such as marijuana. James knew quite well that the benefits of smoking to fit in as a concert enthusiast were outweighed by the costs of lung cancer and even death. He also noticed a common trend in many teenage smokers being concert enthusiasts.

Now a senior at Fern Valley High, James was considering how he could prevent more problems linked to smoking like the problems his two friends had. He decided to propose a regulation that would be enforced by the Federal Drug Administration. In a letter he wrote to John Bovi of the Federal Drug Administration, James said, "Dear Mr. Bovi, I would like to propose to you a regulation that has to deal with teenage smoking. My idea for this new regulation is to prevent cigarette manufacturers from advertising their product with music themes and prevent them from using teenagers in their ads. The regulation would be aimed at reducing the number of teen smokers who are interested in music. Everyone knows that smoking is quite prevalent at rock concerts, and it is easy for teens to fall into the trap of underage smoking when they are in this situation continuously. They do not need the additional advertisement portraying smoking as cool, whether it is in a magazine such as Guitar Magazine or on television. The regulation would cost the cigarette companies possible revenue, but the overall benefit of less teenage smokers would be great. The demand for cigarettes for teens would go down. Another benefit of this regulation is that there will be fewer people at concerts who smoke, provided there are a good number of teenage concert goers, thus creating a more hospitable atmosphere for those who do not smoke at concerts. These outcomes sound great to me, and I hope that you and many others understand the possible results of this beneficial regulation." Later that year, James heard back from Mr. Bovi, informing him that his proposition was being seriously considered and that it probably would be approved by summer. The students at Fern Valley looked up to James. He overcame the temptation of teenage smoking and to lead others away from this same temptation, he proposed this regulation.