It's no secret thatteenage smoking is the reason why tobacco has become what it is today - a world wide problem. Most adults who smoke today started in their early teens as teens smoking cigarettes for fun and past time.They got addicted and could not come off it. It's hard to quit smoking. Statistically speaking 80% of smokers in Britain started as teens.
Teenage smoking statistics are frightening. All in all smoking in general has declined by some 42% since the 60s. Two significant things have happened over these many years; the raise in health care cost of people who smoke and the number of teenagers smoking. In the United States alone, it is estimated that up to 3000 teens start to smoke on a daily basis.
Why more and more teens are getting to smoke is anybody's guess. The shifting focus of tobacco advertising campaigns from adults to a younger generation, social breakdown in homes and families to day to day life stresses and peer pressure are some but a part of smoking causes. Not only are teenage boys smoking, teenage girls are also finding solace in cigarettes.
The effects of teenage smoking can not be underestimated. These are over and above the well known dangers of smoking to an individual's health. The main effect has been on school performance. Teenagers who start to smoke almost always see a sharp drop in school grades coupled with own steady personal neglect even of the most basic hygiene standards.
Researchers have since established that smoking affects the brain of younger people even those still in the womb. This is why smoking while pregnant is a dangerous affair. Vulnerability to the effects of nicotine on the brain continues even in adolescence. In essence nicotine found in tobacco cigarettes affects the developing brain white matter in young people. It disrupts brain connections that have to do with concentration and hearing.
Smoking by teenagers leads to loss of concentration and hearing problems. As mentioned school grades will start to fall. Even participation is sport becomes very difficult often with poor results as one has to grapple with the effects of tar from cigarette smoke building up in the lungs.
Today most teenage illnesses can be traced back to tobacco consumption whether as smoking tobacco or smokeless tobacco. Even in their 30s young people who start smoking in their teens run a greater risk of heart attack and other serious smoking diseases such as lung cancer, cervical cancer and even cancer of the mouth. Smoking will also affect teenage girls' reproductive health due to effects of smoking on conception.
The effects of teenage smoking also go beyond the teenagers themselves and obviously spill into families and communities surrounding the teens. It is apparent that once a person starts to smoke they would have opened themselves to other indulgences such as alcohol consumption and even hard drugs such as cocaine.
Most people who smoke marijuana admit to have started off as tobacco smokers. So is the case with other hard drugs. This is especially true for teens who at this stage in their lives are open to experimentation and peer pressure.
Teens must be encouraged to give up smoking by all means through access to adequate information on smoking and health. Parents and authorities in schools and communities need themselves to understand issues to do with quit smoking programs and stop smoking products. Failure to curb teenage smoking will lead to even higher adult smoking rates in future.
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