Teen smoking only leads to problems. Although it might seem cool to pull out a cigarette and smoke with friends, those few moments of feeling good isn’t worth the price. If you’re unsure about the long-term effects of teen smoking, read the rest of this article to learn more.
Reasons to Avoid Teen Smoking
Perhaps you’ve seen other students, friends, or adults smoke. Perhaps you spend time with peers who smoke after school, at parties, or at clubs. Maybe you feel that if you smoke you’ll fit in better with friends. Although you might have all of these feelings, you should know that smoking has some serious consequences. In fact, the consequences can be so severe that it’s just not worth smoking one cigarettes ever!
Here are a few reasons to stay away from teen smoking:
It’s hard to quit. Cigarettes have nicotine in them, and nicotine is a drug. Just like heroin, meth, and alcohol, nicotine is addictive. This means that your body and your brain can develop a dependency on nicotine, causing cravings and an inability to stop. Sometimes, even when someone wants to stop smoking, it can be hard to quit.
Smokers die early. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who develop a smoking habit will tend to die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. In fact, the CDC also warns that if the 5.6 million teens who are currently smoking continue to do so, they likely die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.
Teen smokers are more likely to have anxiety and depression. Many teens who experience mental illness will tend to want to smoke. Research tells us the reason behind this is that nicotine receptors in the brain actually improves one’s mood in those who have certain types of depression. One study found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed and anxious teens engage in to feel better.
Smoking can lead to other drug use. You might have heard nicotine and marijuana described as gateway drugs, meaning that once a teen tries them they are more likely to use other more dangerous drugs. For instance, according to the Surgeon General, teens who smoke are 3 times more likely to use alcohol, 8 times more likely to smoke marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine.
Smoking harms the lungs and other organs. Particles of tar from cigarette smoke form deposits in the lungs and turn them black. Lung cancer often originates in the bronchial walls of the lung when tobacco is inhaled. Over a period of several years, a tumor growth can develop on the bronchial walls and lead to cancer. Another illness caused by smoking is emphysema, which is gradual damage to the alveoli and air sacs.
Cigarette butts litter the planet. Research shows that approximately 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts adds to the toxic waste on the planet.
Smoking will make you smell bad. It’s true. Smoking will give you bad breath, and it will make your hair, clothes, and car smell bad. Although you might get used to the smell over time, others around you who don’t smoke will notice it right away.
For these reasons and more, you can save your lungs, your life, and your future by staying clear of cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes and Hookahs are Harmful Too
If you’re smoking hookahs, you might already know what a hookah is – a type of pipe that burns charcoal which in turn heats up tobacco and produces smoke. The fumes are cooled by bubbling through a water-filled chamber before being inhaled. Inhaling the smoke after its been cooled is easier on the lungs, but the smoke is still harmful to the body. E-cigarettes are also just as harmful. Here are a few facts about hookahs and e-cigarettes:
- The black residue that builds up in the hookah hose is the same black residue that can build in the mouth and lungs.
- Because hookahs don’t have filters they may actually be more harmful than cigarettes.
- Hookahs are often shared among friends, creating the opportunity to pass germs, viruses, and bacteria.
- E-cigarettes contain cancer causing chemicals and other toxins.
- Hookahs and e-cigarettes were not regulated by the FDA until August 2016. Companies now need to post health warnings so that users know the risks.
In addition to hookahs and e-cigarettes, there are other tobacco products that are just as harmful as those listed here .
Ways to Avoid Teen Smoking
Of course, the easiest way to avoid teen smoking is to simply say no to it. However, that’s easier said than done if you experience anxiety, peer pressure, and approval from adults in your life. Here are some tips to avoid giving in to any desires to smoke:
Anxiety: If you experience anxiety or depression, you might be drawn to smoking because it might calm you. However, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and meditation can be just as effective – and it’s much healthier! In fact, learning how to relax on a regular basis is actually a practice that can not only prevent smoking, but it can also prevent stress-related illness too. One simple way to begin is to take a few deep breaths and notice its effect on your nervous system.
Peer Pressure: The best way to overcome peer pressure is to build your confidence. The more comfortable you feel with yourself, the more likely you will make a decision that is right for you versus right for your friends. Admittedly, this can be hard to do as a teen because the social demands are great. It’s important to make friends and feel accepted by them. However, as you build your confidence, you’ll have greater strength to make choices for you and no one else.
Adults: Twenty years ago, people could smoke just about anywhere – in restaurants, clubs, libraries, and even hospitals. Some adults may still be smoking, and if you have adults in your life who smoke, you might recognize their influence on you. You might want to smoke to feel grown up, to be like them, or simply because that adult seems to be completely okay with smoking. So why can’t you? If you’re on the fence about smoking, educate yourself on it. Become smart about smoking and the damage it can cause. Knowing what smoking can do to you can help you stay strong in being smoke free, despite the adults in your life who smoke.
These are suggestions for staying away from smoking cigarettes and all other tobacco products. In fact, if you grow passionate about no smoking, you can become an advocate to help keep other teens smoke free too.