Smoking: Teen Version

Why do some teens smoke?

There are many reasons teens choose to smoke. You may choose to smoke because:

  • You are trying to find a way to fit in with a group of friends, a boyfriend, or a girlfriend.
  • You think it is a fun activity with friends or at parties.
  • You want to see what it is like.
  • You want to make your own decisions and you know that your family or others do not want you to smoke.
  • You think it will help you relax and temporarily escape from a stressful situation.

The main problem with smoking is that once you start, it is very hard to stop. Before you light up, don’t ask yourself, “Do I want to try smoking?” The question you need to ask yourself is “Do I want to be a smoker or a non-smoker?”

How will smoking change my life today?

Once you start smoking, your body will start craving and needing cigarettes. You won’t be in control of smoking — smoking will control you. Smoking will start to affect every part of your life. When you go out to concerts, dinner, dances, and movies, you will always be thinking, “Where can I go to smoke?” You may even have to leave in the middle of a movie or an event to go smoke because your addiction is so strong. You will be forced to smoke outside (even in bad weather) in a separate area away from other people. You may decide not to go to certain events just because you cannot smoke there.

Cigarettes do not smell good. The smell will get into your clothes, your car, and your room — not to mention your breath. Even if you get used to the smell, non-smokers may not want to be near you or ride in your car.

Non-smokers can also be harmed by breathing in your smoke. Every time someone smokes, poisonous chemicals are released into the air. Each year, many nonsmokers die from lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.

Also, cigarettes will cost you a lot of money. Cigarettes are at least $3.00 to $6.00 per pack. An average smoker spends $1600 to $3000 a year on cigarettes. You can probably think of many other things to spend your money on.

How will smoking change my life in the future?

Most adults who smoke will tell you that they wish they had never started. Your parents or other adults aren’t trying to prevent you from smoking to ruin your fun. They know that it will make your life much harder in the future.

You may not worry about how smoking will affect you when you are older. However, you should be aware of the many long-term health problems that come from smoking:

  • Smoking will leave yellow or brown stains on your teeth and fingers. It will also damage the cells that make your skin stretchy, which causes wrinkles and makes you look much older than you are.
  • Almost everyone who has lung cancer is either a smoker or lives with a smoker.
  • Smoking is the major cause of COPD, a lung disease that makes you short of breath and unable to be active.
  • Smokers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Smokers have a greater chance of having ulcers, bone fractures, sleep disorders, and more colds.
  • Smoking affects pregnant women and their unborn children. Smoking mothers have a greater risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

The more cigarettes you smoke each day, the greater your risk of disease.

What about other forms of smoking?

You may have heard that other forms of smoking are safer or cleaner than cigarettes. Don’t be fooled by these claims. Clove and other flavored cigarettes (kreteks, bidis) contain tobacco along with the flavorings. A water pipe, also called a hookah, is just a different way of inhaling tobacco smoke. Inhaling any smoke hurts your lungs and you are still at high risk for mouth and throat cancers.

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vaporizers) are battery-operated devices that may look like a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. They make a smokeless vapor that the user inhales. The vapor contains nicotine and other chemicals. E-cigarettes are marketed as a way to “smoke” without polluting the air around you. The FDA warns people to not use e-cigarettes because:

  • There is no way to know how much nicotine they contain.
  • They may contain other chemicals that are toxic.

How can I quit smoking?

If you smoke, talk with your healthcare provider or counselor about ways to quit. Set a quit date and get support from friends and family. Join a quit-smoking program. It may be easier for you to quit if you have the support of a group. Quitting is not easy, but don’t give up. Remember, when you quit you will:

  • Feel more in control of your life.
  • Have better smelling hair, breath, clothes, home, and car.
  • Enjoy doing more activities.
  • Save money.
  • Decrease your risk for long-term health problems.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-08
Last reviewed: 2014-10-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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