Teen Smoking: Is It Trending Down?
Looking at statistics about tobacco use can easily give us the wrong idea. The number of smokers on the planet has gone up over time, but it’s only due to an increasing population. When it comes to the percentage of people who are smoking, the numbers have gone down.
Teen Issues with Smoking and Vaping: What Are the Statistics?
Parents will be pleased to learn that teen smoking is declining as well. Between 2011 and 2016, cigarette smoking among students in high school and middle school dropped. Only two of every 100 students in middle school reported having smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days in 2016.
However, there is another issue of concern, which is vaping and electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, teen use of electronic vaping devices increased between 2011 and 2016. Studies have shown that the majority of long-term tobacco users started their habit during their teen years. It’s still being debated whether these vaping products can spare someone the health issues of smoking, but it’s a sure bet that they don’t spare anyone addiction.
The Drive to Smoke: What Makes Kids Want to Start the Habit?
Decades ago, we didn’t understand what a serious threat smoking really was. It made sense that people would start the habit and become addicted back then, but what about today? Why are so many teens starting a smoking habit when the dangers are so abundantly clear to everyone?
One of the biggest fallacies that is contributing to teen cigarette addiction is the idea that people can choose to smoke in social settings without becoming addicted. Many teens identify as “social smokers” and claim they can stop anytime they choose. By the time they realize that addiction has tightened its grip on them, it’s often too late to easily quit. According to data from the American Lung Association, up to 40 percent of regular teen smokers have made unsuccessful attempts at quitting the habit.
We commonly think of peer pressure as a reason teens smoke, but it’s also adult role models who lead kids to believe smoking is okay. When a teen sees their favorite movie star smoking onscreen, they will be 16 times more likely to have a positive attitude toward smoking in the future. Despite this fact, a disturbing number of Hollywood films are still featuring main characters that smoke onscreen.
Health Issues of Smoking: The Major Downsides to a Life of Teen Tobacco Use
Most people think of smoking as a long-term threat, not something that could make a negative impact on the current life they’re living. However, there are serious and immediate threats that come with smoking at any age and for any length of time.
These threats include:
- Damage to teeth or gums, including gum disease and even tooth loss.
- Obstruction of the airways, which can lead to hindered athletic ability and poor performance in school activities.
- Irritation of the throat and lungs, causing an increased susceptibility to common viral diseases and a greater chance of developing a secondary infection of bronchitis.
- Poor healing time and difficulty recovering from injuries or surgery, making complications more likely.
- Stunted lung growth and function.
- Shortness of breath and coughing up phlegm on a regular basis.
- Unpleasant body odor or breath, which could lead to bad experiences with dating and physical intimacy.
- A reduced sense of smell.
- A faster resting heart rate, which is unhealthy.
- Hearing loss or vision issues.
Teen Smoking: How to Discourage Cigarette Use
1. Make it Clear
You might assume that your kids know you’re against smoking. It’s common knowledge that cigarettes are toxic, and your children have always been smart, right? Even if this is true, your kids still need to hear you say that smoking is unacceptable.
2. Provide a Good Example
If you preach that cigarettes are bad while smoking them yourself, it will be difficult for your kids to take your warnings seriously. It’s time to quit. If you’ve struggled to quit in the past, and you find you keep going back to smoking again and again, it might be time to talk to a doctor about a prescribed cessation medication.
It can also help to see a therapist and get to the bottom of the sources of stress in your world. Most people are driven back to smoking because of stress, and without the proper healthy coping mechanisms in place, it’s far too easy to return to your old pattern.
3. Show the Math
It’s always wise to discuss the health dangers of nicotine, but since most teens feel invincible, they aren’t likely to get scared off by the threat of cancer showing up 30 years from now. Money, however, is something they are going to be concerned with. Money is also going to be an issue whether your teen is into smoking or vaping.
Show your family how much an addict can spend on smoking and vaping products in a year. Remind them of the many other wonderful things that money could be spent on, such as video games, travel, new clothing or a vehicle.
4. Be Understanding
Most kids try smoking at some point. If it happens, it’s important to be understanding. You don’t want to create an environment in which your child feels afraid to admit a mistake to you. Keep an open mind and be forgiving to avoid further teen issues.
For more help with teen self-esteem and issues with smoking, please contact me today. I offer online life coaching and retreats for teens and parents. There’s a lot of pressure on teens to smoke, and together, we can create a plan to help your teen handle these pressures and come out of the teenage years happy, healthy and ready to face their adult lives.
If you need help with issues related to teens, please contact me today. I offer mentoring packages or my mother daughter retreats that can help you avoid teen issues by finding balance and creating healthy and happy connections with your kids.