Teenage Smoking

Consequences of Teenage Smoking

Although teenage smoking statistics were on a downward trend in 2012, many continue to light up, even knowing the consequences.

Peer Pressure

One thing that never seems to change is the “everybody’s doing it” mentality. Acceptance and popularity is the name of the teen game. Getting accepted by a clique is vitally important and if the group smokes…oh well.

Teenage SmokingTeenagers exercise their sense of invincibility believing they cannot get addicted to cigarettes. They don’t seem to be bothered about consequences, including premature death.

Teenage smoking provides independence from parental control. Many teenagers adopt an “I’ll show them attitude.” Rarely do teens make rational decisions.

Weight Loss

Teenage girls are majorly weight conscious. Their role models are skinny. This translates in the adolescent girl’s mind as: models are skinny, models smoke; if I smoke I’ll be skinny.

Nicotine causes appetite to plummet. It acts on the identical pathway the brain uses when we eat to signal a feeling of satiety.

Health wise, teenage girls will pay a big price if they start smoking to lose weight.

The Smoker’s Huddle

Now that smoking inside is taboo in restaurants, clubs and public buildings, teenage smoking has taken on a new element. It’s the practice to congregate in designated areas, regardless of weather conditions, to smoke and socialize.

When it’s cold everybody huddles close together, which can give teen smokers a sense of belongingness. Also, this feeds their need for things forbidden.

Smoking draws attention that they crave, even though it’s negative attention. Teenagers that don’t smoke look at them funny and adults get frustrated at not knowing what to do.

Teens have Lower Addiction Threshold

The threshold to enter a smoking cessation program is generally set at 10 cigarettes daily. In a study conducted by Mark Rubinstein, MD of USCF, it was determined that the nicotine addiction threshold in teenagers is much lower.

One group of participants in the study smoked fewer than five cigarettes daily. The other group was non-smokers. Using magnetic resonance imaging, Rubinstein monitored regions of their brains that activated when viewing an image of someone smoking vs. someone holding a pencil.

When people are addicted to any drug, visual images of the drug can initiate the same response as using the drug. The receptors in teen smoker’s brains lit up when watching someone smoke as if they were heavy adult smokers. Non-smokers evidenced no reaction. This indicated the adolescent smokers were already addicted and subject to becoming lifetime smokers.

Useful Resources:

What happens to teen smokers

Teens and smoking

Children and Teens – The American Lung Association

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