By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jun 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM Photography:

Smoking cigarettes used to be such a big part of my life that I spent years as a two-pack-a-day guy smoking unfiltered Pall Mall sticks.

I quit cold turkey about 15 years ago, but I could have sworn I still smoked when I came back from Summerfest Thursday night. My shirt smelled like a tobacco factory.

It was the result of all the smoking at the festival. It’s been years since I’ve seen so many people smoking cigarettes, especially young people – especially young women – inhaling the tar and nicotine. It was almost humorous to watch one 16-year-old girl trying to light her own butt off the glowing tip of a friend’s cigarette.

I wish I could have shaken these kids by the neck and knocked some sense into them. But I figured that was not my place. So here are the top eight reasons for boys and girls not to smoke.

1. No matter how careful you are, those skinny jeans or that cool blouse or that Brewers jersey are going to end up with a hole burned in them. It won’t be big, but it will be there, and if you don’t notice it quickly enough, it can also burn your skin. The odds of this happening grow exponentially if you are either drinking or drunk.

2. Kissing becomes an adventure similar to something like eating anchovy paste with a spoon. Take some tobacco and put it in an ashtray. Light it and watch it smoke. When the fire goes out, take some of it on your finger and taste it. That’s what you taste like when you kiss someone. This horrid taste becomes almost revolting in the midst of a French kiss.

3. Everything you own and anywhere you go will smell like cigarettes. The smoke is the second most pervasive substance in the world, just behind ricin. Plus, there is no way to get rid of the odor. Send that shirt to the cleaners, wash it in the strongest detergent or bleach, and when you put it on, it will still smell like smoke. Don’t even get me started on your hair. The cosmetics industry has never been able to come up with a shampoo that will get rid of smoke smell.

4. Smoke enough, and pizza will taste the same as limburger cheese will taste the same as a steak will taste the same as anything on a stick at State Fair. You will have no taste buds left. The same goes for your nasal smelling. Everything you eat will smell the same – like smoke.

5. You are almost certain to have a pretty serious (hopefully not fatal) car accident. People who smoke while driving are worse than people who text while driving. So many things can happen, none of them good. The smoke can build up in the car so heavy that your eyes start to water. You flick your ashes out the window and then throw your butt outside too. Beside littering, there’s a danger of all that crap blowing back into your face. And the most dangerous of all is when a cigarette slips out of your hand and drops between your legs. Full fledged panic is not recommended for driving.

6. You could accidentally start a massive forest fire while camping in a state park. When campers light a fire, they control the thing. But when they sit in the outhouse or porta-potty, many smokers light up to kill the time. And when the finally walk out, all they have left is a burning stub that they flick to the side. Remember Smokey the Bear.

7. You look stupid to everyone who doesn’t smoke, and nowadays that’s almost everyone. I know kids think they look cool, but they don’t. They look stupid. And kids already look stupid enough. They don’t need to add smoking stupidity to it.

8. Finally – and this should be common knowledge at this point – smoking is bad for your health. The list of bad things that can happen to your health from smoking is a long list. I know it doesn’t scare anyone who is 16 or 17. But all those people are going to be 40 someday, if they’re lucky. By that time, when the doctor shakes her head at you, the wish that you had never started will be profound.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.