Tough Facts and Choices on Teen Smoking

Everyone knows that “smoking is bad for your health.” The effects of smoking have been big news for many years. Every year, more and more people try to quit, in vain. Today, there are more restrictions on smoking as well as volumes of research that shows the ill effects of smoking both on smokers and the people around them. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what the dangers of smoking are and what it can do to people. Despite the health warnings about smoking, there are still a lot of people who are hooked and it seems that they cannot turn away from this habit, most especially teenagers.

Teen smoking is one of the major problems of our society. Despite decades of warnings about the dangers of smoking, an estimated 4,000 teens in the United States light up a cigarette for the first time every single day. Most of the teen smoking cases occur due to environmental influence, meaning, the teenager merely imitates the behavior of an adult smoker who is usually a member of the family. Teens also shape their identities through movies, magazines, advertising, or videos. It is common knowledge that many so-called film and music icons have a number of vices, smoking being one of them. From these factors, the inspiration of teen smoking arises as the teens think that they too can become like their idols or appear “cool” if they smoke cigarettes. And there are various other causes of teen smoking which still prevails in our society. Unfortunately, smoking can even start at home. Teens think that if their parents can smoke, they too can smoke.

Parents often feel powerless in confronting tough issues like teen smoking. They cannot seem to control their teens’ choices or habits. While it is true that teens need to make their own choices, parents do have more influence than they think. One mistake that parents make is that they don’t teach their children how to make good choices. They don’t let the kids make their own choices and feel the consequences of their own mistakes which invites rebellion. Forcing teens to be rebellious as the only way to develop their own reasoning skills can be dangerous. One can’t rebel unless he or she defies authority figures. Since the authority figures are usually right on the issues, to rebel is to be forced to make a lot of wrong choices, such as smoking.

Teenagers crave to be adults. They do this to take their place in society and to be a full adult member of the tribe or social structure. One of the real reasons why kids smoke is their desire to appear like an adult since smoking entails being allowed to make the decision to smoke. Adults make their own choices. Children have to do what their parents tell them to do. Parents tell children not to smoke. Teenagers smoke to prove to their parents they have the authority to make their own choices.

Not all teenagers probably know that smoking can affect every part of their body. It can lead to both minor and major health problems. When one smokes, less oxygen reaches the lungs. Tar from cigarettes ends up in the lungs. Nicotine, the addicted stuff, stimulates the central nervous system which makes the heart beat faster and raise blood pressure. Smoking cigarettes may make teens more susceptible to depression, alcohol abuse, and illegal drug use.

Based on data from a government drug use survey, researchers concluded that teens who smoke are nine times more likely to abuse alcohol and 13 times more likely to abuse illegal drugs than teens who don’t smoke.

The truth about teen smoking is all about the choices teens make. To grow up is not only about making your own choices, but to take responsibility for the choices you make. What you do affects who you become and if you make bad choices, you will get bad results. Teens are at an age where the choices they make will affect the rest of their lives. And smoking is a tough choice that they will be facing everyday.