Smoking Tobacco Among Teens
Smoking is widespread among the US teenagers, with risk factors including health issues, peer influence, and risky sexual behavior; advocates should, therefore, focus on means to curb peer influence and risky behavior. Several solutions can be offered to help curb large amounts of peer pressure and risky sexual behavior. They include; vaping, community youth groups and free distribution of condoms among others. Although many factors affect teenagers, tobacco smoking, peer pressure, and risky sexual behavior are the most common ones.
Teenagers are at high risk of health-damaging behaviors such as risky sexual behaviors and tobacco smoking. Although cigar smoking is on a decline, there are still many people addicted to tobacco smoking. In the last ten years, teen smoking has shown a significant decline. Teenage smoking is associated with several factors. Peer pressure is a huge element associated with teenage smoking. Different sources have presented different arguments on the trends and the possible causes of drug and substance abuse among teenagers. Some sources argue that there is a likely hood that teenage smoking will decline. Other studies on the hand show that smoking rates have not decreased among teenagers. I, however, believe that teenage smoking is on a decline as discussed below.
How it works
According to Andrews, Sabado, and Choi (2018), there is a likelihood that teenage smoking will be declining. According to the source, 59% of teenage smokers in the United States are in the pre-completion stage of leaving smoking. However, the pre-completion stage of quitting smoking was associated with joblessness. Jenco (2018) has also stated that fewer young teens utilize tobacco. Indeed, there has been a decline in drug abuse among teenagers. According to the study, 20% of high school students were found to use tobacco, a decline from 2011’s 24%. Current data has also confirmed that the rate of tobacco use among teenagers has significantly declined. Lantz (2003) compares the shifts in smoking among youths with trends in the subsistence usage as well as look into the significance for young adult’s tobacco intervention. The number of youth and teenage smokers especially high school students has increased. In a study conducted to study the pre-contemplation level of stopping smoking, the study found out that 59% of American teen smokers are in the pre-contemplation scale of quitting smoking. Joblessness was connected to the pre-contemplation stage of quitting smoking.
Tobacco smoking has several health risks to an individual’s body. To begin with, it is associated with lung cancer diseases. Smoking damages the airways and the alveoli. If one suffers from asthma, smoking tobacco can trigger an asthmatic attack or make an attack worse. A cigarette smoker is likely to have a lower level of lung function compared to an individual who does not smoke.
Not only does smoking lead to lung cancer, but can it also lead to cancer of other body parts such as the kidney, pharynx, cervix, esophagus, and mouth among others. Tobacco smoking harms almost every organ in a smoker’s body causing many diseases and reducing their health in general (Wackowski, Delnevo, & D, 2016). Secondly, Tobacco smoking increases an individual’s risk to suffer from cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart diseases and stroke. Studies have shown that individuals who smoke even less than five cigarettes daily show signs of cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco smoking also damages an individual’s blood vessels as it can make them either widen or become narrower. Tobacco smoking is also harmful to women as it can reduce a woman’s ability to conceive. It is also harmful to pregnant women as it may lead to; stillbirths, low birth weight, and ectopic pregnancies among others (Banderali, Martelli, & others, 2015). Smoking also affects the sperm count in a man reducing the man’s fertility. Smoking also affects the health of the teeth and gums and causes tooth loss.
The lack of understanding of how illness affects teen smokers will affect smokers in various manners. It is therefore important that tobacco smokers understand that no way using tobacco can be considered safe. Cigars, pipes and other types of smokeless tobacco are likely to cause cancer (University of Rochester, 2018). Teens need to be educated on the health risks associated with tobacco smoking and why it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If the teenagers are not well informed of the dangers of tobacco smoking, they are likely to continue smoking and suffer from diseases such as lung cancer, stroke and heart attack among others. Although the health risks associated with tobacco smoking are publicly advertised, some teenagers are ignorant and turn a blind eye on the warnings. Some teenagers believe that diseases do not apply to them.
According to statistics, about 30% of cancer deaths in the US are caused by smoking. Among these deaths, 80% are lung cancer deaths with lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer in both women and men. In the United States, statistics show that in a year, about 480,000 deaths are caused by tobacco smoking. Smoking is also responsible for 8 out of 10 chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Tobacco smokers are also likely to die from COPD compared to non-smokers. Additionally, the risk of dying from tobacco smoking has increased in the last 50 years in the United States. With the current rise in tobacco smoking, it is likely that smoking will kill about one million people in the 21st century. According to the CDC, diseases caused by smoking kill more than 480,000 people in the U.S. each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also affirms that addicted smokers are two to four times more expected to attract diseases such as stroke and heart disease (University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia, 2018). Regardless of the acknowledged risks, several individuals keep on smoking or begin smoking each year.
Peer influence is the leading cause of teenage smoking. Peer influence also known as peer pressure refers to the effect an individual gets from their peers making them change their behaviors and attitudes to conform to those of a social group. According to sociologists, peer influence mostly encourages smoking. Teenagers are likely to encourage their peers to start smoking rather than help them quit smoking. According to statistics conducted by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, teenagers who smoked had three or more friends who engaged in smoking. Having a friend who smokes doubles a teenager’s risk to begin smoking.
In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania (2017), peer influence doubles the smoking risk for adolescents. The study involved gathering information from sixteen nations both collectivistic and individualistic countries. The study also involved assessing the cultural origins of the teenagers in each study regardless of their race. The research found out that peer influence was not prevalent in teenagers with European origin but was effective with young people from Asia. The researchers also realized that peers were most likely to pressure close friends to begin smoking.
Teenagers are also likely to begin smoking if they feel that they lack support from the existing social structures. The teenagers might feel that society does not fully appreciate them and find more support among their peers. Some teens feel alienated from their family and the society at large and end up seeking comfort in the arms of their peers. Most teenagers have explained that they smoke to reduce stress. The stress might arise from problems at home, family fights, disagreements with their friends, relationships and school work among others. When teenagers lack social structures to help them arrive at informed decisions, they are likely to turn into smoking as a way of relieving stress. Depressed teenagers are likely to become addicted to nicotine and are less likely to stop smoking.
The closeness and interaction among the youth also contribute to increased peer pressure. Most teenagers feel the need to develop an identity or associate with individuals from a given class. In an effort to associate with a given group, individuals engage in risky behaviors such as smoking and risky sexual behavior (Nichter,2015). For many teenagers, they enjoy the feeling of belonging and would change their behaviors just to fit in a group. Teenagers whose friends are smokers are therefore likely to engage in smoking as a way to prove that they deserve to fit in the group.
Several studies have shown a link between tobacco smoking and irresponsible sexual behavior. The use of tobacco among teens has been linked to the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and early pregnancies. Drugs are said to interfere with normal human judgment and can lead to poor decision making; it has also been suggested that tobacco use might increase an individual’s possibility to engage in risky sexual behavior. In a study conducted to study the relationship between drug abuse and sexual activity in the United States, about 80% of the respondents had had sex in the last twelve months. Three-quarter of them had had sex with more than one sexual partner. Among the respondents, 75% had used alcohol in the last twelve months, 40% had smoked tobacco while 20% had used marijuana. The study also showed that individuals who drank often or often smoked cigarettes were more likely to be sexually active than others.
In the article, ‘The Relations of Cigarette Smoking with Risky Sexual Behaviour among Teens,’ by Sussman, the connection between the use of cigarette and sexual activities has been analyzed. According to the article, there are eight reasons that connect drug abuse to sexual activities. They include; habit-forming qualities, dopamine neurotransmission, counseling, problem conduct, and other addictions amid people in recovery, behavioral disinhibition, and socio-economic culture and obsession-type reasons (Sussman, 2005). Additionally, several people associate smoking with sexual appeal. Some individuals have the idea that smoking cigarettes make one more good-looking bodily or more accessible or willing.
Several solutions can be offered to help reduce teenage smoking and involvement in risky sexual behavior. To begin with, Vaping has been offered as a solution to tobacco smoking. The reduction in teenage smoking can be tied to the increase in awareness in the community (Jenco, 2018). More teenagers are equipped with the knowledge to ensure they can stay away from smoking. The introduction of e-cigarettes has helped curb the prevalence of smoking among teens. The e-cigarettes are harmless and can help the teenagers stay away from tobacco. (Totally Wicked.com). “The percent of 12th graders who say they vaped just flavoring in the past year also increased to 25.7 percent in 2018 from 20.6 percent in 2017” (NIH.com). As a result of health awareness amongst teens, an increased number are choosing to vape or use e-cigarettes instead of tobacco. These are healthier options for teens and allow them to still fit in with their peers.
Secondly, society needs to develop structures that will make teenagers feel appreciated and wanted. Teen smoking can result from the desire to fit in a group or develop a sense of belonging (Georgie et al. (2016). If the shoulder shows concern by developing community youth groups, the teens are likely to develop an attachment to their society and even quit tobacco smoking.
Individual counseling can also be used to help reduce cases of smoking and irresponsible sexual behaviors among teens. Teenagers can attend therapy sessions where they will discuss and explain their smoking journey to a therapist. By explaining their beliefs and reasons for smoking, a therapist will be able to give them counseling sessions to help them overcome addiction and peer pressure. It is also important to take time and educate teenagers on the importance of quitting smoking. Compared to adults, teenagers spend less time thinking of how to quit smoking tobacco. While helping a teenage quit smoking, one should, therefore, spend extra time explaining to them why they need to quit smoking, how to avoid temptations and how to fight peer pressure.
Mass-media can also be used to curb tobacco smoking. The tobacco industry has several advertisements advertising tobacco all over the country. In some states, however, tobacco advertisements have been forbidden. In an effort to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and early pregnancies among youths, the teenagers can be advised to engage in safe sexual activities or use birth control methods. Teenagers can also be encouraged to avoid sex. Free condoms can also be distributed for use if teenagers need to engage in sexual activities.
Although there are many factors that affect teenagers, tobacco smoking, peer pressure, and risky sexual behavior are the most common ones. Smoking is widespread among US teenagers, with risk factors including health issues, peer influence, and risky sexual behavior; advocates should, therefore, focus on means to curb peer influence and risky behavior. Often, teenagers involve themselves in smoking as a result of peer pressure. It is, however, important to note that tobacco smoking has several health effects on an individual’s body. Tobacco smoking is associated with several health issues such as; lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, teeth problems, and reproductive problems among others. Teens need to be educated on the health risks associated with tobacco smoking and why it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If the teenagers are not well informed of the dangers of tobacco smoking, they are likely to continue smoking and suffer from diseases such as lung cancer, stroke and heart attack among others. However, there is a solution to these issues. With the FDA starting additional precautions such as limiting where nicotine is sold, forbidding advertisements on tobacco smoking, educating teens on the risk of nicotine and health issues. While there is still improvement to be seen since only one-quarter of twelfth graders surveyed who smoked cigarettes have switched to safer methods of bonding, the statistics show that there is hope for greatly minimizing teenage smoking.
- Andrews, M. E., Sabado, M., & Choi, K. (2018). Prevalence and characteristics of young adult smokers in the U.S. in the pre-contemplation stage of smoking cessation. Addictive Behaviors, 167. Retrieved from https://login.dax.lib.unf.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsbl&AN=vdc.100066209010.0×000001&site=eds-live&scope=site
- Banderali, Martelli, G. a., & others, A. a. (2015). Short and long term health effects of parental tobacco smoking during pregnancy and lactation: a descriptive review. Journal of translational medicine, 327.
- Georgie J., M., Sean, H., Deborah M., C., Matthew, H., & Rona, C. (2016). Peer-led interventions to prevent tobacco, alcohol and drug use among young people aged 11-21 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Addiction, 111(3), 391–407. Retrieved from https://login.dax.lib.unf.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=112860327&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Jenco, M. (2018, June 07). Study: Youth tobacco use is decreasing; e-cigarettes most popular. Retrieved from http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/06/07/teensmoking060718
- Lantz, P. M. (2003, June 01). Smoking on the rise among young adults: implications for research and policy. Retrieved from https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/12/suppl_1/i60
- Nichter, Mimi. Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking on College Campuses. New York: NYU Press, 2015. Print.
- Sussman, S. (2005). The Relations of Cigarette Smoking with Risky Sexual Behavior among Teens. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 12(2/3), 181–199. https://doi-org.dax.lib.unf.edu/10.1080/10720160500203732
- University of Pennsylvania. (2017, August 21). Peer influence doubles the smoking risk for adolescents: Teens from collectivistic cultures also more swayed by peers than those in individualistic cultures. ScienceDaily.
- University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia. (2018). Smoking and Teens. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=90&contentid=P01652
- Wackowski, Delnevo, O. A., & D, C. (2016). Young adults’ risk perceptions of various tobacco products relative to cigarettes: results from the National Young Adult Health Survey. Health Education \& Behavior, 328-336.