Smoking and Teens
According to a report published by the US government, almost 25 percent of high school students in the US smoke cigarettes, 70 percent of them begin smoking because their friends smoke. About 30 percent teen smokers will continue smoking and die early from smoking-related diseases.
Another research carried by the US Preventative Services Task Force reveals that 90 percent of young people start smoking before the age of 19, and smoking claims almost half a million deaths each year.
In Canada, over 45,000 people die every year due to smoking related diseases that is according to a report published by the Canadian government.
Every year more than 100,000 people die in the UK because they have been smoking for a long time.
According to the Ministry of Health, Nepal Government, tobacco is the number one trigger of cancer related deaths.
There are two types of smokers, active smokers and passive smokers. Active smokers are those who directly inhale smoke, and passive smokers are those who inhale secondary smoke. However, both are prone to health risk of smoking. The ratio of deaths from smoking related disease is higher than from traffic accidents, AIDS, breast cancer, and drug addiction.
Health Risks of Smoking
- If you smoke a cigarette, you will have 11 minutes less to live.
- Every cigarette you take will reduce blood flow for more than an hour.
- Continuous smoking reduces a smoker’s life by seven to eight years.
- Smoking causes erectile dysfunction in men.
- Smoking causes high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- Smoking causes fertility problems.
- Continuous smoking blocks the vessels to the brain. This can cause dementia.
- Smoking causes mouth cancer, lung cancer and throat cancer. Study shows 90 percent of lung cancer cases are because of smoking.
- Eyes are sensitive to smoke. Smoking increases risk of cataracts.
- There are at least 400 toxic substances in cigarettes. The most damaging are:
- Tar: A carcinogenic substance that causes cancer
- Nicotine: An addictive which increases cholesterol levels in the body
- Carbon monoxide: A poisonous gas which reduces oxygen in the body
Why do Teens Smoke?
If you ask teen smokers why they smoke, they will give five types of answers.
- My friends smoke.
- My parents smoke.
- I think it is cool.
- I just want to try it.
- There is no harm in smoking occasionally.
How are the teens lured into smoking? The easiest answer is the mass media.
Tobacco companies target teens in their advertorials. They sign up actors to promote their products, and pay movie producers to portray characters who smoke their brands. When teens see their favorite actors smoking, they are likely to pick the same brand and begin smoking. By the time they learn about the health risks of smoking, they find hard to quit. Since the smokers die early, tobacco companies see teens as their customers, and send message that teens can pretend to be grown-up by smoking.
- Every day, the world over, almost one hundred thousand teens begin smoking.
- Generally, more males smoke than the females.
- In the United States, Canada and Nepal, around 20 percent of the teens smoke daily or occasionally.
- Young smokers, compared to the adults, make more attempts to quit smoking.
How to Quit Smoking – A Seven Point Guide For Teens
Overcome the temptation
Don't believe the smoking endorsements from your favorite actors. Don’t fall into the trap of tobacco companies. If your friends smoke, don’t feel pressurized. Help them to overcome the temptation of smoking. Think about all those celebrities who died early because of excessive smoking, alcohol consumptions and drugs.
Smoking damages your system
Smoking does not do any good to your body or mind, it damages your creativity. Smoking has adverse effects on your respiratory, circulatory and nervous system.
Smoking does not reduce stress
Smoking causes stress rather than relieving from stress because toxins found in cigarettes tire your brain. Smoking will damage your stamina and you will be unfit for sports and outdoor activities. It will give you panic attacks, and you will suffer from anxiety disorders and depression.
Smoking is wastage of money
Consider this, if you quit smoking you can save lot of money which can be used later to buy cool gadgets, clothes, even gifts to your boyfriend/girlfriend.
Addiction is serious
You might be thinking occasional smoking won't harm you. But you never know when occasional smoking becomes a habit.
Smoking will not make you a hero
Smoking will not make you a hero, but surely it will make you a zero. Smoking will even harm your relationship, because you will not only develop bad breath but also smell bad.
Beware of cancer and heart diseases
Smoking is the main reason behind mouth cancer, throat cancer and lung cancer. Smoking causes cardiovascular disease, which means you will have poor blood circulation, chest pain, heart attacks and strokes. You will die early.
Best Ways to Help Teens Quit Smoking
Parents, teachers, and other elders can help teens quit smoking or stop them getting into smoking. Here are 10 best ways to help teens quit smoking.
1. Learn why the teen is smoking
Mass media influence, smoking friends or parents, and tendency to become cool are some of the reasons that lure teen into smoking. You cannot help your teen quit smoking until you know the real cause. Once you get into the root of the problem, you'll be better equipped to help teen quit smoking.
2. Become an example
Parents and teachers have tremendous influence on teens. If parents and teachers smoke, it is more likely that teens will smoke. If you want to discourage teens from smoking, either don’t smoke or never smoke in front of them. Don’t set rules such as smoking is not allowed in my house. Teens are rebellious by nature, and your strictness will have negative impact.
3. Don’t be didactic
Simply talking about health risks of smoking may not help your teen. Tell the real life stories of people who died young because of tobacco related diseases. “Don’t smoke” is an important message but it will work only when you illustrate with proper examples, for instance: Smoking causes bad breath, cough, and wrinkles. It will also make you smell.
Most of the teens believe there is nothing harm in occasional smoking. However, research shows once a teen begins to smoke, he/she finds hard to quit. Talk to the teens, show concern on their activities. Tell them the truth: It is easier to get addicted but quitting is very hard. Instill positive vibes, tell them even though it is hard to quit, they have will power to quit smoking.
6. Tell your teens to choose non-smoker friends
If the teen has a smoker friend, it is more likely that he/she will smoke. Encourage teens to leave friends who are not willing to quit smoking, and befriend those who have quitted smoking or are non-smoker. Involve your teens in creative activities, and make them believe if they can hold out long, cravings will simply pass away.
7. Stop-smoking products
Consult a doctor and help your teen choose stop-smoking products. Chewing gums, candy, cloves, and cinnamon can also help quit smoking.
8. Participate in your teens daily activities
Some of the teens pick up smoking because of stress. Smoking does not relieve stress, but pushes them into complications. Show your appreciation on good choices your teen makes, and talk about the consequences of bad choices.
Motivation plays an important role in a teen’s life. Motivate young people to quit smoking. Take an active stance against teen smoking and support anti-smoking campaigns.
10. There is no second chance in life
Help your teen realize there is no retake in life. When a mistake is committed, it will affect your entire life. If your teen succeeds in quitting, congratulate and reward them with something they want.
I Want to Quit Smoking – My Story
My father does not smoke. When I was in teens, I did not see my elders smoking. My extended family did not influence me smoking, however, mass media had a tremendous impact in my thinking. When I saw my favorite actors smoking, I thought smoking made me cool. In the advertisement they showed girls attracted to young smoking man, and smokers doing courageous things. I was a tenth grader when I first tried cigarette. I chocked, and had a bout of cough; however, I went to try again few days later. I chocked again, and I never considered smoking until I was in college.
While in college, I had friends who were habitual smokers. There was some sort of peer pressure. I smoked in the parties and outings. When I was in the University, l read a government report that said Nepal is a country with the highest number of women smokers, second to China. Nepal government initiated Quit Smoking Campaign.
My father never told me not to smoke or quit smoking. When he learnt I was smoking, he bought a pamphlet about health risks of smoking and kept it on my writing desk. I read it thoroughly, and thought occasional smoking had no harm.
“I never smoked, never used tobacco in any form, but my son smokes. Maybe I’m a bad father,” one day I heard him telling to mother.
He did not say a word to me but made me feel guilty. I washed my hands.
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