Decline in Teen Smoking Rates Highlights Importance of Intervention

quit cigarette teen smoking tobacco use

Teenagers may become too eager to become adults because they think it gives them more freedom to do things on their own and to make their own decisions without the need for anyone’s approval. Unfortunately, this is one of the many reasons why teen smoking has risen in popularity these days. Without considering the risks that smoking can do to their health, adolescents find it exhilarating to light a cigarette in order to experience being adults.

However, there’s a light ahead of the tunnel. A recent study revealed that teen smoking rates are gradually dropping. In this article, we will look into the teen smoking trend, as well as the importance of intervention to prevent the issue from blowing out of proportion.

What’s in a “stick”?

teen smoking cigarette ashtray

Health-conscious individuals may not be able to comprehend why teen smoking has become alarmingly trending. After all, it is just like puffing smoke and slowly burning off a person’s health. However, researchers found out that more than merely wanting to try smoking, there are other factors that push a teen to start smoking.

For starters, some teenagers consider smoking because they want to look mature. Meanwhile, others merely follow the same things that their friends are doing, for the sake of peer acceptance.

On the flip side, many adults have their own reasons for smoking. These include wanting to feel relaxed when they are stressed, or looking for a sense of relief when experiencing difficulties in life. However, no matter what their reasons are, smoking can do more damage than anyone could realize.

Factors That Influence Teen Smoking

Some teens are more likely to smoke because of their desire to look mature. But apart from these reasons, teenagers may also be influenced by how smoking is being advertised. Seeing their favorite celebrities endorsing cigarette products would make any avid fan patronize and engage in the same things.

A very strong influence may be brought about by the parents themselves, especially if their teenage children see them smoke at home. In their young minds, they might be saying “if it is something that my parents do, there’s no reason why I can’t do the same thing.”

Decline in Teen Smoking Rate

cigarette butts

Smoking is one hard habit to break. Individuals who may have wanted to stop this vice would attest to how difficult it is to get rid of smoking.

The good news, however, is that recent studies have shown that there has been a significant drop in the number of teens who smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that the number of middle and high school students who are tobacco users significantly dropped from 4.7 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016.

The reason for this may have been brought about by the popularity of e-cigarettes. These battery-operated devices are designed to look and feel like traditional cigarettes. It makes use of a liquid that vaporizes ang gets puffed by the user through the device. Although these devices claim that they are less harmful than regular cigarettes due to the minimal amount of nicotine, studies have shown that the chemicals in e-cigarettes contain carcinogenic substances that may be more harmful than regular tobacco.

Teenage smoking has been a serious public health issue. Smoking is known to be the leading cause of preventable death not only in the United States, but also in other countries. In fact, nine out of ten American smokers had their first taste of tobacco before they turn 18.

It was between 2011 and 2015 when the decline in tobacco smoking became evident. During this time, e-cigarettes started rising in popularity among high school students, which contributed to the rate of e-cigarette use increasing by 900% at the time.

All other forms of tobacco products used include hookahs, smokeless tobacco and cigars.

The decline in teen tobacco and e-cigarette use is an indication that interventions may be gaining traction. It’s quite a challenge to pinpoint the real cause, but authorities have qualified the drop in teen smoking rate to a range of various policies designed to dissuade young adults from using tobacco.

Among these policies include the increase in tobacco taxes as well as the expansion of anti-smoking regulations. The latter includes e-cigarette and other new products that the government perceives to become harmful to their health. Massive campaigns were also created by the joint efforts of the different sectors of society.

Some of the strategies used in the campaigns were believed to be extremely effective, thereby leading to the decline in the rate of teen smoking.

Health Effects of Teen Smoking

cigarette smoking dangers

Any substance that we consume will always have an effect on our health. This would be either good or bad, depending on the kind of substance.

Poor development

Smoking has a terrible impact on teen health since they are still in a developmental stage. As a result, they are more vulnerable to the effects of smoking.

Lung problems

It can slowly decline lung function during late adolescence and early adulthood. It has also been found to impair lung growth, cause chronic coughing, and wheezing.

Nicotine Addiction

Smoking leads to a form of addiction caused by nicotine. Did you know that out of the population of kids who are regular smokers, a third of them may die prematurely as a result of being dependent on tobacco?

Cardiovascular issues

Habitual use of tobacco can affect performance and activities as it causes the narrowing of blood vessels, which puts a strain on the heart. This also causes a deficiency in oxygen and shortness of breath. This is the reason why smokers move at a slower pace when running compared to non-smokers.

Secondhand smoke exposure

Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in adults, increase the risk of respiratory diseases in children, and lead to sudden infant death syndrome. Tobacco smoking produces carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke, which increase the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Moreover, children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop several medical conditions that include ear allergies, asthma, bronchitis, infections, and pneumonia.

Facts on Teen Smoking

Here are some alarming facts and figures related to teen smoking:

  • About 47.2% of high school students and 42.4% of middle school students who used a tobacco product in the past 30 days have used at least two tobacco products.
  • One in three teens who become regular smokers will die of a smoking-related disease.
  • Roughly 40% of teenagers who smoke daily have tried to quit and failed.
  • About 2/3 of teen smokers say they want to quit smoking, and 70% say they would not have started if they could choose again.
  • Girls who smoke are more likely to grow excess facial hair than non-smoking females.
  • Any kid who smokes 2 or 3 cigarettes a day may develop an addiction in as short as two weeks.
  • Smoking even as few as 5 cigarettes in a day may decrease a teenager’s lung function growth.
  • Teenagers who smoke are more likely to experience sleeping disturbances compared to non-smokers.
  • Teenagers who smoke are likely to use more medications than those who do not smoke.
  • Teens who smoke have a lower immune system, which makes them more prone to having cough and colds.
  • Teens who smoke produce twice as much phlegm as teens who don’t. This can eventually develop into a condition known as “smoker’s cough”.
  • Pimples are more evident on teen smokers, which can be difficult to treat.

Why Intervention Is Important

The stage of adolescence is a critical period where teenagers become more vulnerable. They can easily be influenced by what they see from their surroundings. Therefore, seeing people whom they look up to can be the main reason why they eventually get hooked on tobacco smoking.

Teenagers may also experience peer pressure, especially if they want to feel a sense of belongingness. This becomes more evident when the individual comes from a family who may be experiencing some difficulties or domestic disputes.

The parents’ goal is to provide their children with the best things in life, which include providing shelter, food, education and good health. And with that, no matter how it would become difficult for parents to make both ends meet, what matters most is that the children can be well-provided for.

Part of teaching the children is letting them know what is right and what are the things that they need to avoid. Having an open line of communication with children is an effective way of letting them feel how much they are valued. By doing these things, parents can be more confident that whatever they teach their children will be put into practice.

Informing them what they should and should not do would somehow help them make better decisions in life. This is exactly how parents should take advantage of having good communication with their children.

Smoking is something that can never be easily eradicated from society, most especially that the government perceives it as a great source of revenue by imposing higher taxes. Therefore, parents should be the first people to let their children know about the dangers of smoking.

Intervention is an effective means of helping children stop the habit of smoking. By citing the possible consequences, it may help children realize that smoking is something that should not be perceived as something “cool” just because their friends do it.

More than harming their own health, teenager should realize the possibility of causing harm to others around them (that is, through secondhand smoke).

How To Address Teen Smoking

There are various ways on how teen smoking can be prevented. For these things to become successful, everything should start with early intervention.

Apart from this, imposing strict policies and regulations against teen smoking should materialize.

School-based educational intervention

As the children’s second home, schools should help parents in keeping their children safe and healthy by providing sufficient information regarding the dangers of smoking.

Federal Public Law 102-321

Strict implementation of this law should be imposed. This particular law requires restriction in selling tobacco products to minors. This also includes penalizing vendors who are caught selling such products to underage customers.

Imposing penalties for youth possession, use, and purchase

Such penalties should help teens think twice about possession, use, and purchase of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Mass media counter-marketing campaigns

Although tobacco companies insist that they mainly advertise to adult consumers, it is impossible for teens to be unaware of these. Most popular cigarette brands make use of promotional paraphernalia such as clothing, outdoor gear, and sporting equipment that attract the younger market. Teens are likely to smoke depending on their education, income, and sexual orientation.

Seeing tobacco companies as sponsors on certain events can also entice any teen to try the products out. In relation to this, restrictions should be implemented wherein tobacco companies should redirect their marketing strategies where the youth is not the target market.

Tobacco Excise Taxes

Higher taxes imposed on tobacco products can become a significant factor in increasing the government’s revenue. This can somehow help in discouraging people from purchasing the products because of its high cost.

Clean Air Act

Public and private entities should encourage more places to be smoke-free. Hopefully, this can help reduce the rate of teen smoking.

Final Word

If you discover your own kids starting to become curious about cigarettes, grab the opportunity to talk to them about the harmful effects of teen smoking. Intervening the potential habit early can make a huge difference in their lives.

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