Teen Trends on Smoking

Teens who smoke can often be found hanging out with other teens who smoke. Ask a teen who smokes what they like about smoking and two answers come up hanging out with friends and relaxing. Nicotine, the drug in tobacco leaves, is delivered to the brain each time a person “lights up”. Nicotine is what keeps smokers continuing to “light” again. Nicotine is highly addictive and toxic, pure nicotine can be used as a pesticide for crops. Cigarettes are sometimes referred to as “smokes”, “cigs”, or “butts”. “Bidis” are hand rolled cigarettes containing more nicotine than the average cigarette. Nicotine can also be used in the form of smokeless tobacco or “chew” or “snuff”.

Why Teens Smoke

More than 3 million teens, ages 12 to 17 use tobacco, about 15% of teens that age, 13% of whom smoke cigarettes. As with the use of many other drugs, many teens smoke to belong to a group, fit in with their older friends, or feel as if they are more mature or older. Teens are caught in a limbo of maturity, no longer a child yet not quite an adult. Smoking is one way teens attempt to feel more mature or older. It is known the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the US is 18, therefore many teens feel more mature by doing something their older friends are doing. Teens often report smoking to relax or to reduce anxiety.

Teens often get cigarettes from older friends, steel them from their parents, or purchase them on their own. Many teens under the legal age of 18 to purchase tobacco products are able to purchase tobacco products with no proof of age or identification. This just perpetuates the cycle by making the teen feel even more powerful. The simple fact they could purchase the cigarettes is a new reason to purchase more.

Effects of Smoking

Smoking is highly addictive as both a stimulant and a sedative on the body’s central nervous system. Epinephrine is released almost immediately when nicotine is ingested into the system. The quick stimulation is often followed by depressions and fatigue, leading the user to want more nicotine. Nicotine accumulates in the body allowing the user to feel the effects of nicotine 24 hours a day. Along with nicotine, cigarette smoke also contains carbon monoxide and tar. Tar exposes the user to higher rates of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. Cardiovascular diseases are also increased by carbon monoxide in the cigarette.

Teens who Quit Smoking

Teens who quit smoking now are more likely to fully recover from the effects smoking has had on their bodies. Quitting smoking is not an easy habit to overcome, however with structure and discipline it can be done.