Kids and Smoking: 6 Important Facts

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking, side effects

Dr. Howell

It is no secret that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health. Still, thousands of people start smoking everyday and most of them develop addiction within just a few months or years of tobacco use. What’s more alarming is that a significant portion of the smoking population is made up of children.


Here are 6 key facts about smoking and children’s health:

Most adult smokers started young. In the 2012 report of the US Surgeon General entitled “Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults”, 3,800 children ages 12 to 17 start smoking every day. The same report also revealed that around 3 million high school students and 624,000 middle school students are smokers, one in 4 high school seniors is a regular smoker, 88 percent of Smoking-49918247adults who smoke daily had begun smoking at the age of 18, and 99 percent started at 26. Furthermore, among young people who smoke, about half will suffer from premature death, losing an average 13 years of their life, compared to non-smokers.


Cigarette ads are targeted to young people. In 2008, tobacco companies spent almost 10 billion dollars for advertisements. The effort was primarily aimed at lowering the prices of tobacco products so these could be afforded by young smokers, particularly teenagers and adolescents. Such huge amount of money was allocated on promotions, discount coupons, and other activities that led to reduced cigarette prices.

Many young smokers love flavored cigarettes. Just like candies, cigarettes nowadays come in various flavors like grapes, strawberry, chocolate, orange, etc. Many states have banned flavored cigarettes for one reason – it makes children more likely to smoke. According to the US Surgeon General study, only one-third of teen smokers use regular cigars. Even menthol cigarettes have sparked issues on cigarette smoking among children after scientists discovered that they make users more addicted to smoking.

They are easily influenced by the media. Studies shows that adolescents who see actors and celebrities smoke in movies are more likely to become smokers themselves. In 2010, records revealed that nearly a third of top grossing youth-related movies contained scenes or images of tobacco use. Children ages 9 to 14 were more likely to be influenced by older adults to smoke than children ages 16 and 22.

Quit smoking help is available. Experts say that quit smoking programs are more effective when


DID YOU KNOW?

A 2012 report of the US Surgeon General revealed that 3,800 children ages 12 to 17 start smoking every day. The same report also revealed that around 3 million high school students and 624,000 middle school students are smokers, and one in 4 high school seniors are regular smokers.

combined with mass media campaigns, price increases and cigarette bans, and are implemented in schools and communities.

Parents can do a lot to help young smokers quit. If you are a parent of a smoking teen or child, there are plenty of things you can do to save his or her life from the dangers of tobacco use. First off, you want to set a good example by not smoking yourself. If you do, the first step would be to quit and show your child that it is possible to quit for good. Talk to your children about the health effects of smoking. Appealing to their vanity is also a good approach. Tell them that cigarette smoking literally makes them ugly by sapping nutrients from their skin, putting a yellow stain on their teeth, making their body odor stinks, and so on.

With the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, addressing the increasing rates of smoking among kids and teens is a major concern. Since tobacco use often begins during youth and young adulthood, more efforts should be aimed at discouraging children from smoking. And aside from the help provided by the government, charities and private organizations, helping a child avoid or quit smoking should start at home. As adults, we can all set a positive example which will guide them in pursuing a healthier, cigarette-free life.

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