It is common knowledge that smoking is unhealthy and can, in many cases, be deadly. Many parents therefore believe that teenagers will be dissuaded from the bad habit from this fact alone. Parents sometimes reason that one of the main reasons that their peers (and maybe even they themselves) started smoking cigarettes decades ago was because the dangers of tobacco were not as well known or well publicized as they are today. So now that everyone knows just how unhealthy smoking can be, they’re sure to stay away from the habit, right? Unfortunately, while this thinking is logical, it simply isn’t correct. Below you will find some important statistics on teen smoking and some reasons why teenagers still to this day take up the habit:
1. Teen smoking is still a problem.
Despite the veritable fortune that has been spent on anti-smoking campaigns in recent years, teen smoking is still an issue with which all parents should concern themselves. The American Lung Association estimates that around 4,800 teenagers try smoking for the first time every single minute. And with recent statistical studies suggesting that about half of people who start smoking as underage teenagers continue smoking for another fifteen to twenty years into the future, this figure is nothing to take lightly. Other studies indicate that about 1 in 5 children worldwide between the ages of 13 and 15 are smokers, and, while these numbers may not be precisely reflected in the United States, plenty of American teenagers are still smoking.
2. Teens are more likely to smoke if their parents do.
Studies have proven time and time again that children are more likely to smoke if one or both of their parents is a smoker. As a parent, therefore, it is important that you not underestimate the deadliness of smoking – even if you are a smoker. It may seem hypocritical to prohibit your child from engaging in a habit to which you yourself fall prey, but it is your responsibility as a parent to try to protect your child from making the same mistakes you have made. Your best bet as parent who smokes is obviously to quit, but for some reason if you have no intention of quitting, at least talk with your teen. Acknowledge that your habit is a mistake, and share with your son or daughter some of the struggles that you encounter as a smoker. Explain that you are counting on them to be more responsible than you were when you started smoking, and, hopefully, this will be enough to make them think twice before lighting up.
3. Teens smoke for superficial reasons.
Like many of the stupid things teenagers do, teens usually choose to smoke for very superficial reasons. Understanding these reasons is an important step in stopping your teen from smoking. Teens are more likely to start smoking if they:
- Have friends who smoke
- Hang out in areas where smoking is accepted (pool halls, diners, etc.)
- Want to lose weight
- Want to look cool
- Feel stressed and want to use cigarettes to relax
- Need an outlet for rebellion
- Want attention
- Want to feel special or different
- Don’t understand the dangers of smoking
- Have little supervision
Teen smoking is something that you should take very seriously as a parent. In addition to its many other negative health effects, understand that smoking kills more people in the United States than car accidents, suicides, AIDs, illegal drugs, murders, and alcohol combined. So if your teen already smokes, find a way to get them to stop. And if they aren’t a smoker, talk to them today about the reasons why they should never, ever become one.
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