- Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
- 90% of all smokers begin before age 18 and more than one-third start before the age of 14.
- 70% of those who smoked during high school are smoking 5 years later.
- Every day, approximately 4,000 American youth aged 12-17 try their first cigarette.
- If current patterns of smoking behavior continue, an estimated 6.4 million of today's children can be expected to die prematurely from a smoking related disease.
- Sixteen percent of high school students have smoked a whole cigarette before age 13.
What are the Effects of Tobacco on Youth?
- Cigarette smoking by young people leads to immediate and serious health problems including respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use.
- Cigarette smokers are 100 times more likely to smoke marijuana than non-smokers.
- Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. For most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke.
- Cigarette smoking causes heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, and cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and bladder.
What are the Risks of Nicotine Addiction?
The younger people begin smoking cigarettes, the more likely they are to become strongly addicted to nicotine. Young people who try to quit suffer the same nicotine withdrawl symptoms as adults who try to quit.
Several studies have found nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Of all addictive behaviors, cigarette smoking is the one most likely to be established during adolescence.
How Tobacco Advertising is Geared Towards Youth
- Cigarette companies spent more than 15.2 billion dollars in 2003 to promote their products.
- Children and teenagers constitute the majority of all new smokers, and the industry's advertising and promotion campaigns often have special appeal to these young people.
- Eighty-three percent of young smokers (aged 12-17) choose the three most heavily advertised brands.
How Youth Can Avoid Tobacco Usage
Some adolescents believe that smoking will help them fit in better with their peers, appear mature, or cope with stress. There are more positive ways to address these problems such as exercising and becoming involved with extracurricular activities.
Social influences are a huge factor when it comes to young smokers. Youth should be aware of and refute tobacco advertising from the media, adults, and peers.
Don't be afraid to refuse! If a peer wants you to try a cigarette, assert yourself and say no. YOU make the decision about how you treat your body and take care of yourself.
What you can do:
Quit or cut back as much as you can. We know it's hard, but remember, you're doing this for your baby. Here are some resources that can help:
- Your health care provider
- Your employer
- National Partnership for Smoke-Free Families
- The American Legacy Foundation
Pregnant women who don't smoke should avoid other people's smoke. Studies suggest that regular exposure to secondhand smoke may harm the baby.
Tips to Quit Smoking
- Write down your reasons for quitting. Look at the list when you are tempted to smoke.
- Choose a "quit day." On that day, throw away all your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
- Stay away from places, activities or people that make you feel like smoking.
- Ask your partner or a friend to help you quit, and call that person when you feel like smoking.
- Ask your health care provider about quitting aids such as patches, gum, nasal spray and medications. Don't start using these without your health care provider's okay especially if you are pregnant.
- Don't get discouraged if you don't quit completely right away. Keep trying. If you can't quit, cut back as much as you can.
- The Tobacco Research and Intervention Program (TRIP) helps women who are pregnant and who have quit smoking to remain smoke-free. For an informational booklet about staying smoke-free, call this toll free number (877) 954-2548.
- Ask your employer to see what services are offered or covered by insurance.
- Learn about smoking cessation programs in your community or from your employer. You can get more information from your health care provider, hospital health department, or school nurse.
The organizations listed below can also help:
- National Partnership for Smoke-Free Famliies
- The American Legacy Foundation
- You may also call the toll-free number (800) QUIT-NOW.
Drugs and their Effects on Your Lifestyle
Thanks to medical and drug research, there are thousands of drugs that help people. Antibiotics and vaccines have revolutionized the treatment of infections. There are medicines to lower blood pressure, treat diabetes, and reduce the body's rejection of new organs. Medicines can cure, slow, or prevent disease, helping us to lead healthier and happier lives. But there are also lots of illegal, harmful drugs that people take to help them feel good or have a good time.
How do drugs work?
Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. When you put them into your body (often by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting them), drugs find their way into your bloodstream and are transported to parts of your body, such as your brain. In the brain, drugs may either intensify or dull your senses, alter your sense of alertness, and sometimes decrease physical pain. A drug may be helpful or harmful. The effects of drugs can vary depending upon the kind of drug taken, how much is taken, how often it is used, how quickly it gets to the brain, and what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time. Effects can also vary based on the differences in body size, shape, and chemistry.
Although substances can feel good at first, they can ultimately do a lot of harm to the body and brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, taking illegal drugs, and sniffing or huffing substances can cause serious damage to the human body. Some drugs severely impair a person's ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Teens who drink, for example, are more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.
And just as there are many kinds of drugs available, there are as many reasons for trying drugs or starting to use drugs regularly. People take drugs just for the pleasure they believe they can bring. Often it's because someone tried to convince them that drugs would make them feel good or that they'd have a better time if they took them.
Some teens believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become better athletes. Others are simply curious and figure one try won't hurt. Others want to fit in. A few use drugs to gain attention from their parents. Many teens use drugs because they are depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs don't solve problems. Drugs simply hide feelings and problems. When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain - or become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person's life.
For help and more information call or go to:
- National Alcohol 24 hr. Help/Referral Line (800) Alcohol
- National Drug 24 hr. Help/Referral Line (800) 821-4357