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Addiction Substance Abuse

Tobacco Use Among Adolescents: Facts, Statistics, Effects

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Despite warnings about the health hazards of tobacco use, people have continuously patronized this product, making it a seemingly essential part of their daily lives. What makes the issue alarming is the fact that teen smoking rates are increasing, and more kids have started an early addiction to tobacco. Aside from the usual cigarettes that they may have access to, teenagers also use pipes, hookahs, bidis, and the very popular e-cigarettes.

If this continues, teens who engage in tobacco use may die early from smoking-related illnesses.

To stop teenagers from engaging in the use of tobacco products, parents should become aware of the probable causes why their teens start to smoke at such an early age.

Why Do Teens Smoke Cigarettes?

cigarette smoking teens

There may be various factors why teenagers start to smoke cigarettes, some of which include the following:

Poor parental modelling

Teenagers whose parents smoke are more likely to become tobacco users themselves, especially if they see adults smoking and making it a part of their daily routine. In their young minds, adolescents may think that since it is readily available, it is part of any normal human experience.

Media influence

Movies may also have a huge influence on teenagers. At least 47% of teens agreed that seeing drugs and tobacco products on screen seem to be okay.

Another study showed that teens aged 12-17 years old who watch three or more rated “R” movies were seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes. They probably think that tobacco use is a way of being “cool” as they see it being used by their favorite actors.


Being a teenager is not as easy as it sounds, because it is during this stage that they try to discover things, including their own identities. When they feel unhappy, more often than not, they may turn to a substance that they have easier access to. Taking the substance may produce a different kind of feeling, which can make them happy, energized and more confident.


Sometimes, teenagers feel the need to smoke because they don’t have anything else to do. You can’t expect them to be always studying as it may make them feel burn out and bored.

In this case, tobacco use or alcohol consumption may fill the internal void.

Peer connection

Smoking can somehow become their way of hanging out with similar-minded teens thereby instantly having a connection. Seeing that other people are also using these substances lessens a teenager’s fear of being misjudged. They get a sense that whatever crazy decisions they make, blaming it on the substance is just a fine excuse.

Identity crisis

Teens may be dealing with different issues in their young lives to a point that they turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of showing rebellion. They may choose different substances depending on their personalities.

For instance, angry teenagers may choose alcohol or methamphetamines to make them behave more aggressively. Marijuana has the opposite effect, by making them feel secluded from the whole world. Tobacco use may make them flaunt their independence, like making a statement to parents saying that they have already grown up.

A teenager’s life is a complex stage. Many shy teenagers would make use of drugs or alcohol to help them gain confidence. The effects that tobacco produces include having less inhibition and reducing social anxiety.

Wrong knowledge of tobacco use implications

Being naïve at a young age comes with a price. Some teenagers think that taking these substances will not lead to any untoward incidents. Some teenagers would influence their friends and provide wrong information about the effects of the substances.

It is best that parents should have time to talk to their children regarding the dangers of tobacco products. This way, teenagers will have greater chances of staying away from people who are trying to influence them.

Happy feeling

Teenagers turn to substance use because they feel a form of instant gratification. The initial effects of triggering the “happy center” of the brain can make a teenager down a glass of alcohol or light up a cigarette.

Teen Smoking Stats

teen smoking facts

The following data shows just how critical tobacco use is among teenagers.

  • At least 3,200 individuals each day aged 18 years old and below smoke their first cigarette.
  • Two in every 100 middle school students reported that they have smoked cigarette in the past month.
  • E-cigarette use increased among middle school students from 2011 to 2015.
  • Seven out of 100 middle school students have used some type of tobacco product.
  • At least 30% of high school male teenagers are smoking.
  • At least 8% of middle school male teenagers smoke a certain tobacco product.
  • In 2014, the most prevalent forms of smoking were electronic cigarettes (13.4 percent), hookah (9.4 percent), cigarettes (9.2 percent) and cigars (8.2 percent).

Dangers of Tobacco Use by Teenagers

Because teenagers are still in the stage of growing, they are vulnerable to the deadly effects of smoking. Health consequences from tobacco use include the following:

  • Respiration problems
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Increased risk of getting hooked on another substance
  • Decreased lung function
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Poor performance associated with decreased endurance in doing physical activities
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Associated with risky behaviors

The facts stated above aren’t associated with smoking, because most of the information circulating are geared towards warning the public against the effects of illicit drugs. However, although it has a legal status in any country, tobacco can cause a lot of diseases that may eventually lead to death.

This is one reason why all cigarette packs need to display graphic warnings to let the people know the hazards of smoking. Through this form of advertisement or information campaign, people who smoke tobacco may find themselves lowering their rate of consumption until they can completely get rid of the deadly habit.

Facts about Teenage Smoking

Tobacco use is something that teenagers may consider as part of regular human life just like eating or sleeping. Little do they know that getting hooked on tobacco can cause them health risks that exceed the fulfillment that they think they receive.

Here are some disturbing facts about teen smoking:

  • Female teenagers use tobacco as their means of controlling weight. However, smoking can also cause excess hair growth.
  • Smoking cigarettes decrease lung function growth.
  • Roughly 44% of teens say that they did not know bidi cigarettes would lead to cancer.
  • One bidi cigarette has three times more nicotine and carbon monoxide compared to a regular cigarette.
  • Teens who smoke produce more phlegm that those who don’t smoke.
  • Tobacco smoking can cause skin break outs.
  • Pimples often stay longer.
  • Smoking 2-3 cigarettes a day can get anyone hooked to a long-term habit in two weeks.
  • Teen smokers have a lowered immune system.
  • Sleeping disturbance may be evident among teen smokers.

How to Help Teens Stop Smoking

quit cigarette smoking teens tobacco use

There is a need to provide comprehensive regulations to reduce accessibility and affordability of cigarettes and other tobacco products to prevent teens from engaging in tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking among the youth is a global issue. Adolescents may have several reasons for tobacco use with the wrong perception that it can make them stand out from the rest and belong to the “cool” groups in school. Whatever reasons these teenagers may have, the fact remains that smoking affects overall health.

Other than merely relying on what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says about the dangers of smoking, parents should be the first people to educate their children regarding the risks of smoking tobacco products.

Teen smoking rates can be reduced with the following suggestions:

Parents should be role models

Sometimes, a parent can be more effective in teaching their children when their children see them “practice what they preach”.  The earlier the parents stop smoking, the less likely their teen kids can become smokers.

While it may not be easy for smoking parents to stop immediately, they should learn not to smoke in front of their children. Never leave cigarettes on places where your teens may find them. Let the children know that you are struggling to stop smoking.

It would be helpful to seek medical advice on how you can slowly quit smoking.

Be understanding

Instead of scolding your teens upon discovery of tobacco use, try understanding their actions. You may approach the matter through any of the following:

  • Ask if their friends are smoking too.
  • Know if there are things that could be bothering them, and let them open up to you. Listen and provide solutions.
  • Acknowledge all positive actions and correct those that are inappropriate.

Teens need their parents more during this time. With so many questions in their heads, they need to receive the right information from parents instead of getting their answers from fellow teens.

Educate them on the risks

Approach your teen in a way where you describe smoking as something that is filthy – how it can mess up with the way they look, their breath smells, and the color of their teeth appears.

Point out the consequences that will happen when they start using tobacco. Mention any relative or friend who may have been ill due to smoking.

In addition, give them a simple computation on how much it could affect their weekly school budget if some of their money is spent on buying cigarettes. Calculate the amount that they will spend on cigarettes in a year. The amount might even be the same as the cost of a mobile device.

Instill discipline

Be firm when you tell your children that smoking is never allowed. When you emphasize this to them at a young age, they are more likely to adhere to what you tell them.

Inform them about the dangers of e-cigarettes as well

Let them know that e-cigarettes can harm the body just the same way as tobacco. It can even be more dangerous because some e-cigarettes use synthetic substances that can increase the risk of health hazards.

Participate in anti-smoking campaigns

Your teens would listen more and believe you more when you get yourself involved in any local or school-sponsored campaigns against smoking.

Nicotine Test Kit

To find out if your teenager is using tobacco, you may purchase nicotine test kits. These products can be very helpful in determining recent tobacco use – whether cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobaccos, or smokeless tobacco.

A urine nicotine drug test is capable of detecting cotinine, a substance produced when nicotine enters the individual’s body. Just like any other urine drug test, a urine sample is collected and an easy-to-read dip card is used in measuring the nicotine levels.

It only takes a few minutes to determine the presence of nicotine. The presence of nicotine in the sample can be detected even 2-4 days after the last tobacco use.

Helpful Links and Sources








Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

CDC Study Shows 1 in 5 Adult Cigarette Smokers in the U.S. Have Tried E-Cigarettes

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Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as e-cigarettes, are quickly gaining a crowd of supporters on American soil. In fact, one-fifth of American adults who smoke cigarettes have reported that they have used e-cigarettes and the number of users grew substantially between 2010 and 2011, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes.”

The study is the first to investigate the changes in awareness and use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2011. It found that about 21 percent of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes had used the electronic inhaler in 2011, which is about 10 percent more than in 2010. The increase was noted in both sexes, and especially in non-Hispanic Whites (aged 45-54 years old), those living in the South, and current and former smokers. The report also showed that e-cigarette use was significantly higher among current smokers compared to both former smokers and people who have never smoked.

Although many believe that electronic cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, more studies are needed to define their impact on long-term health. Similarly, research is needed to determine how e-cigarette marketing could impact initiation and use of traditional cigarettes, particularly among young people.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Depression Linked to Tendency to Smoke

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A new government report indicates that people struggling with depression are more likely to smoke heavily than those who are not suffering from depression, according to a feature on Medical News Today. The report was published on April 14 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005 – 2008.

depressionDepression, however, does not cause smoking; neither is it the other way around. But what it does show is that there is a link between smoking and depression, especially among people aged 20 and older in the United States.

The key findings in the report include the fact that 43 percent of adults who had depression were smokers as opposed to 22 percent who were not suffering from depression. Adults who are suffering from depression, even if experiencing only mild symptoms, are more likely to start smoking than those who are not. Conversely, among those who would like to quit smoking, smokers who are not suffering from depression are more likely to be successful at their attempts to quit compared to those who were suffering from depression.

The percentage of smokers is also found to be directly proportional to the severity of depression being experienced, as the percentage went up as the severity increased. There are also more smokers who are also suffering from depression who smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day, compared to those who do not have depression.

Hence, the report concluded that there is a need to create special smoking cessation programs to help smokers suffering from depression to kick the habit.

Substance Abuse

Electronic Cigarettes: Cure for the Habit or Road to Addiction?

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The electronic cigarette has been around for years, especially over the internet, but it is currently creating buzz in the United States as the Food and Drug Administration is placing this product under scrutiny.

In Maryland, a kiosk at the Westfield Annapolis Mall is selling a brand of electronic cigarettes called Smoking Everywhere. The sales pitch is that the device can be a safer, healthier way of indulging the smoking habit. The electronic, battery-operated device has the look and feel a cigarette and contains the nicotine to satisfy that inherent addiction in long-time smokers – but none of the tar and tobacco that make cigarette smoking and being exposed to cigarette smoke dangerous.

e-cigaretteThe rather steeply-priced but reusable device can be reloaded with liquid nicotine in gradually varying concentrations. The liquid nicotine is converted into a mist when the smoker takes a drag from the device.

The name says it all. Because of its unique advantages, Smoking Everywhere is a product that you can smoke everywhere — in pubs, in the conference room, even probably in cramped spaces like elevators. When cigarette smoking was all the rage and health risks were not yet a concern, these were things people used to do.

People who have tried using it are, for the most part, satisfied with the product. One user from Los Angeles shares how using the e-cigarette has saved his health as well as the health of those around him. It is also a great and subtle way towards quitting smoking. There are reportedly chain smokers who have gone from 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day to smoking nicotine-free liquids, thanks to the e-cigarette.

The FDA is on the backs of e-cigarette distributors, however, branding the device as “illegal” since it considers the device as a “new drug”, and the absence of their stamp of approval means that marketing and distribution in the United States is unlawful.

There are medical practitioners who warn against its use by non-smokers, as the presence and use of highly-addictive nicotine will lead to addiction to the substance. This is especially true for teenagers who may want to take a drag, just to be able to see what its like to smoke, safe in the thought that the e-cigarette is tar and tobacco-free.

Los Angeles Health Screening