More and more children are getting hooked to cigarette smoking. According to statistics, around 300,000 young individuals under 18 start smoking each year. And sadly, 30 percent of these children will die due to illnesses, including lung cancer and heart disease.
But despite the growing awareness about the dangers of smoking, why do many teenagers choose to smoke? Well, there are many factors that influence them. Below are the top 5:
Lifestyle of the Family
According to studies, children whose parents smoke are more likely to engage in smoking at an earlier age and consume more cigarettes than those whose parents do not smoke. Even though teenagers don’t show it, they are actually affected by what they see and experience in their homes. Aside from smoking parents, teenagers who are less happy with their relationship with family members are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits such as binge-drinking and cigarette smoking. These children might feel they are alone and unloved. Because of this, they tend to become rebellious and would resort to doing things they know their parents will not approve. Establishing a harmonious relationship at home is therefore critical to prevent teenagers from smoking cigarettes. They should be given love, attention, understanding and acceptance so they won’t have a reason to find comfort from cigarettes.
Most teenagers like to feel that they belong. They wanted to feel ‘accepted’ and ‘well-liked’ by their peers. This intense desire for belongingness often triggers young people to do even the things that are against their will, like smoking. Cigarette smoking, nowadays, seems like a fad among the youth. Many of them think that being a smoker is cool. It makes them appear more matured and confident. Again, it is the role of parents to help their children deal with the pressures from friends and acquaintances. They should understand that they can actually feel they belong even without having to indulge in cigarette smoking. Parents should have a friendly yet serious conversation with their kids about peer pressure, how it can badly affect them, and how to cope with it.
Media has a significant impact on how people, especially the younger generation, perceive smoking. When teenagers see the most prominent supermodels, actress and actresses, and even sportspeople smoke, they tend to think that smoking is ‘cool’. Advertisement on smoking is almost everywhere – commercials, TV shows, even movies. Seeing the celebrities they idolize puff cigarettes can actually motivate many teenagers to engage in tobacco use. Thanks to the strong efforts of the government and private health organizations, tobacco advertisements are currently banned in some states in the US. At least, the exposure of cigarette produces has been greatly reduced.
Early use of tobacco can lead to chronic illnesses later in life, or worse –early death. Encouraging the youth to avoid smoking, and helping those who are already into it quit for good is a major challenge not just to parents but also to educators and the government. By focusing on these three major factors that influence teens to smoke, we can actually reduce the number of teenagers trying to smoke each year.