Teenage Smoking

Parents are the single biggest influence in their children’s lives. You’ve got to let your kids know, and know often that smoking is bad news. Your teens may seem to be tuning you out and accuse you of lecturing, but they are listening. Discuss the dangers of teen smoking with them early and often.

The smoking facts below have been compiled with teens in mind. It’s full of knowledge and information to arm yourself with that will get your child’s attention.

Cigarettes when burned, create toxic, harmful chemical compounds. There are over 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, and more than 40 of them are known carcinogens.

Smokers inhale some pretty nasty things with every puff:

  • Tar Yep, the very same thing they use to pave streets and driveways with. Ever notice how smoker’s teeth are yellow? Tar is responsible for that.
  • Hydrogen Cyanide This chemical is used to kill rats and it was used during WWII as a genocidal agent. Smokers inhale it with every puff.
  • Benzene This chemical is used in manufacturing gasoline.
  • Acetone It’s in nail polish remover and it’s in cigarettes.
  • Formaldehyde This is what they use to preserve dead bodies. It’s also used as an industrial fungicide, is a disinfectant, and is used in glues and adhesives.
  • Ammonia We use this chemical to clean our houses.

And of course, there is Nicotine, the drug responsible for an addiction that smokers spend years and years trying to break.

Secondhand Smoke Facts
Cigarette smoke is full of harmful chemicals. Breathing in secondhand smoke is harmful for smokers and nonsmokers alike. Smokers suffer a double dose though, increasing the destructive effects of secondhand smoke.

  • Secondhand smoke kills about 3,000 nonsmokers each year from lung cancer.
  • Secondhand smoke causes 30 times as many lung cancer deaths as all regulated pollutants combined.
  • Secondhand smoke causes up to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in infants and young     children each year.
  • Secondhand smoke causes wheezing, coughing, colds, earaches, and asthma attacks.
  • Secondhand smoke can produce six times the pollution of a busy highway when in a crowded restaurant.
  • Secondhand smoke fills the air with many of the same poisons found in the air around toxic waste dumps.

Other facts about smoking:

  • Every day in the United States alone, approximately 3,000 kids under the age of 18 start smoking
  • Every day 1,200 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses.             
  • Teen smokers get sick more often than teens who don’t smoke.
  • Teen smokers have smaller lungs and weaker hearts than teens who don’t smoke.
  • Teen smokers are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs.
  • Addicted smokers tend to use more nicotine over time. The habit usually grows. What starts out as 5 or 10 cigarettes a day usually becomes a pack or two a day habit eventually.
  • It is estimated that approximately 4.5 million adolescents in the United States are smokers.
  • Spit tobacco, pipes and cigars are not safe alternatives to cigarettes. “Light” or “low-tar” cigarettes aren’t safe either.
  • Those who start smoking young are more likely to have a long-term addiction to nicotine than people who start smoking later in life.
  • Smoking-related illnesses claim more American lives than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined.(1)
  • People who smoke a pack a day die on average 7 years earlier than people who have never smoked.
  • Smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States.(2)

Be proactive! Give your children a solid anti-smoking foundation that will help them resist outside influences encouraging them to smoke as they go through their formative years. It’s up to us as parents to do all that we can to protect our kids from the dangers that tobacco use presents. Education about nicotine addiction is the best place to start.

1. American Cancer Society, Cigarette Smoking, 2002
2. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Preventing Tobacco Use among Young People, A Report of the Surgeon General, 1994
Other facts and figures for this article obtained from: www.4women.gov and www.cdc.gov

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