Percentage of Teens Who Smoke in School
Every year more and more teenagers begin smoking. Those who choose to smoke often continue to be adults who smoke, increasing their chances of being diagnosed with lung, mouth or throat cancer. While efforts have increased over the past several years to discourage children and teens from smoking, tobacco companies continue to target teenagers directly to encourage them to take up the habit. Recent statistics from the American Cancer Society indicate that individuals who begin to smoke at or before the age of 19 continue to be smokers well into adulthood.
The number of children and teens that start smoking every day is staggering. According to the American Lung Association, approximately 6,000 kids start smoking every day and out of those 6,000, approximately 2,000 turn into regular smokers. Multiply this by 365 days per year and more than 700,000 kids turn into smokers annually. It is estimated that more than 4 million teens under the age of 18 are now regular smokers, who run the significant risk of developing lung, throat or mouth cancer.
Why Teens Smoke
Teens decide to try smoking and cigarettes for many reasons. In many cases, according to the Teen Drug Abuse organization, teens try smoking for the first time because they have close friends who are already smokers. They may feel that smoking makes them cool or will help them become part of the “in” crowd at school. Also, many teens feel outside of the accepted circle of kids at school. Very often teens believe that the warnings about lung cancer and other health concerns do not apply to them because they are so young.
Health Concerns for Teens
Health concerns for teens when it comes to smoking may not seem real for teenagers themselves, but are very real when they come to fruition. According to the American Lung Association, teens who smoke may not only develop lung, mouth and throat cancer but they also have decreased lung capacity and lung development. Additionally, they may develop a chronic cough and have increased phlegm production. Adolescents who smoke may also be more prone to developing asthma and other respiratory problems, including emphysema.
According to the Mayo Clinic, parents, adults and friends can do a number of things to prevent smoking. First, try to understand why smoking might be appealing. Another avenue is to try to appeal to teen’s natural concerns about their appearance–smoking not only dehydrates and makes the skin extremely dry, but it prematurely ages the skin, makes one’s breath smell like an ashtray and makes fingers and teeth turn yellow or brown. Another method is simply being a good role model for teens by not smoking yourself.
Helping Them Quit
According to the American Lung Association, most smokers attempt to quit many times before they are finally successful at stopping. Parents and adults can provide support by providing encouragement to stop smoking. They can also provide other activities away from friends and peers who might also be smoking. Most smokers need assistance with the nicotine cravings and addiction. Support can be found by using nicotine gum, patches or with medical support in the form of medications such as Zyban and Chantix. Both of these medications have proven extremely successful in smoking cessation and require a medical prescription.