According to statistics, majority of smokers started smoking before they finished high school. The younger the smoker started smoking, the more likely he or she becomes an adult smoker. And almost eight out of ten smokers in high school tried but failed to quit smoking. Smokers picking up the habit at a young age may suffer from heart diseases, lung problems, and other smoking-related illnesses earlier in life.
But the big question is – why does teens start smoking? There can be several factors, but the most common ones include:
Peers. Peer pressure tops the list. Most teenagers started smoking because their friends are doing it and they think it’s cool. Friends have this kind of influence that easily convinces other friends to light up. This can be predominantly true when a boyfriend or a girlfriend smokes, the fear of losing the relationship if he or she doesn’t pick smoking plays an important factor.
Image. In a teenager’s eyes, smoking makes them look independent and older. Some may try smoking to prevent weight gain or feel better about themselves. Still some simply wanted to experiment or bored. They see smoking as an avenue to seek thrill and excitement and smoke on every available opportunity.
Family. Some teens pick the habit of smoking because their parents or one of their parents smokes. Setting rules and good example to children is important. Parents who impose strict rules against smoking are more likely to have children who do not smoke, or who are inclined to smoke less. They may be drawn to smoking, but may not be able to do it around home, thus reducing the possibility of becoming a regular smoker.
Naiveté. They are simply teens. Their lack of experience often makes them believe that no harm will befall them because they are young and the future is yet afar. They often presume that bad things only happen to other people. Cancer, heart disease, and other health issues do not usually occur to their friends or relatives. Their view changes only when their relatives or close friends suffer from illnesses caused by smoking, or when they get older and confronted by similar situation.
Cultural Suggestions. Teens are easily influenced by the things they see on TV, movies, and the internet. Advertising and movies in particular portrays cigarette smoking as something that it is pleasurable and cool. Surveys even revealed that children who are exposed to tobacco advertisement are more likely to try smoking and become a regular.
Growing teens are very energetic and would experiment on things. As parents, it is important to invest on our relationship with our kids. Protect your kids by not being too protective, communication is a key. Spend time with your kids. Make them feel that you’re always there for them. Communicate so you can know what they are thinking and what they are experiencing. And most importantly live by example. If you do not want your kids to smoke –better not smoke or quit smoking now. You are your kid’s first hero.