Because of advertisements and other forms of media that promote smoking, many teens think it is okay and cool to smoke. And the result is that many teens are getting addicted to nicotine and cigarettes. All over the world, smoking begins as a teenage experience. Few smokers have begun smoking as adults. In the United States, on an average day, at least 3,000 young people become regular smokers, and more than 6,000 adolescents try to smoke their first cigarette. The outlook for regular smokers who began smoking as teenagers and continue into adulthood is grim. Research shows that people who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting. It is also estimated that about 30% of youth smokers who continue smoking well into adulthood would die early from a smoking-related disease. While smoking may be legal for adults, the medical costs associated with it are enormous. Many of those who suffer and die from smoking-related illnesses actually took up the habit in their teens.
In today’s health news, there seem to be startling new statistics regarding teen smoking. It appears nearly one in five 13-to-15-year-old students worldwide uses some form of tobacco, according to the global youth tobacco survey started seven years ago, as a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students from more than 130 countries responded to questions about tobacco, including personal use, secondhand exposure and advertising. The study found that Europe and the Americas had the highest rates of cigarette smoking, at approximately 18 percent. In all regions, the use of other tobacco products was generally more common among boys than among girls. Nearly a quarter of high school students in the US smoke cigarettes. Another 8% use smokeless tobacco. In addition to the innate dangers faced by the smoker, there are dangerous effects of secondhand smoke to non-smokers as well. Secondhand smoke causes many serious health problems. It contributes to as many as 300,000 cases of pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections in infants and children every year. It is also one of the risk factors in the development of childhood asthma, causing 8,000 to 26,000 new cases each year. Smoking has many health risks for everyone. However, the younger a person starts to smoke, the more problems it can cause. The tobacco industry spends about $34 million per day to market cigarettes, and most of this marketing is targeted at kids. To stop this kind of unethical advertising, critics argue Congress should pass legislation that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing, as well as to ban candy-flavored cigarettes.
Combating teen smoking in America is a really serious public health issue. It is relevant as well to the problems in developing countries faced with smoking by children and adolescents. The issues on teen smoking clearly speaks to policy makers, health personnel, researchers, and young people. Each group has a role to play to address the growing health problems among minors.