The Effects of Smoking on Teenagers and Young Adults
Teenagers and young adults have their whole lives to look forward to – YOU have your whole life to look forward to. There are the prospects of love, marriage, a career, buying your first home, starting a family, etc. Sure, there will be ups and downs, tragedies, and hardships, but there will also be joy and happiness.
The issue, however, is that many individuals around this age end up starting a habit that should have never been started. Yes, everyone has a choice, but there is such a thing as making the wrong choice. Smoking is the wrong choice, and there are numerous reasons why.
Why do Young Adults Begin Smoking?
There are many reasons why young adults and teenagers begin smoking. Most notably may be the relationship between peers and the development of mutual habits. This is to say, many times an action or activity practiced by an individual’s friends or social group will then be assimilated and practiced by the individual. Basically, if the individual’s friends smoke, there is an increased risk that the individual will begin the habit of smoking as well.
Social factors also include marketing attraction by tobacco companies. This attraction entices teens and young adults. These marketing efforts are to ensure that for every smoker who dies, a new smoker is born. Most people who smoke do so around the age of 18. Social factors may also be subsets of peer pressure, such as the seemingly attractive nature of celebrities – musicians, actors, and professional athletes – who smoke.
There are also factors like general stress, stress related to school, stress related to relationships, family troubles, etc., that may lead to smoking. Many are under the mistaken impression that cigarettes eliminate stress. This is not true. The relief experienced is a momentary release of dopamine. This makes you feel less stress, however, according to the Cleveland Clinic, your body is really under increased stress. Your blood pressure and heart rate greatly increase, your muscles tense, your blood vessels begin to constrict, and oxygen becomes less available to your brain and to your body (cells, organs, skin, etc.) The dopamine merely provides a false feeling of stress relief, while the smoke creates more stress and a greater feeling of the continued need to smoke.
How Smoking Affects Young Adults and Teens
Smoking affects the health of everyone involved, even those standing close by. However, it affects young adults and teens more profoundly in many ways. In addition, according to the Surgeon General, for every one of the approximate 1,200 deaths from smoking which occur each day, they are replaced by approximately two young adults or teens.
- Youth smoking leads to limited, subnormal, or stunted lung development. Youth smoking could even lead to becoming an adult with lungs which have not developed to full capacity.
- Of all youth smokers, approximately 1/3rd will die prematurely. However, most, if not all, will succumb to one or multiple forms of health complications.
- Early signs of heart disease and stroke are detected in young people who smoke.
- On average, someone who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day lives seven years less than someone who has never smoked cigarettes.
- Younger smokers are at greater risk for developing lung cancer.
- Teenage smokers are more likely to suffer from emotional or psychological distress.
- Young people who smoke suffer from shortness of breath three times more often than those who do not smoke.
If you, or someone you know smokes, help is available. What many do not understand is that cigarettes are more dangerous than drugs and alcohol combined. According to the American Lung Association, approximately 24,000 people die from alcohol abuse, and approximately 39,000 people die from drug abuse annually. However, according to the CDC, cigarettes cause well over 450,000 deaths annually. This includes second-hand smoke exposure. Drug and alcohol abuse combined leads to approximately 63,000 deaths. This is a difference of nearly 390,000 more deaths caused by smoking and second-hand smoke exposure. There are also approximately 8 million people suffering from diseases caused by direct smoking, as well as second and third-hand smoke exposure.
Quitting now greatly affects your chances of living out your future with health and confidence. There are numerous quit smoking aids available, and many are available without a prescription. Family and friends of smokers are urged to reach out and support their loved one in their efforts to quit smoking. Millions of people have quit successfully, and with effort and support, you can add to that number.
For more motivation to quit smoking once and for all, visit The Real Cost of Smoking.
Read more about the effects cigarette smoke has on the human body at The Effects of Smoking.