Teen smoking has been a thorn in the side of parents and teachers alike for eons, despite the knowledge that positive role models make a difference and our behavior as parents has a potentially viable impact. So why do kids still indulge? One hears the adage time and time again, “Oh, I just take a drag once in a while,” or “I only smoke when I’m with my friends,” or “I only smoke on the weekends,” but studies show even “a drag on a friend’s cigarette may be the beginning of something that will be hard to shake.” Recently, the Pediatrics journal did a study, tracking the course of addiction to nicotine amongst a group of 6th graders, and the results are astonishing: after studying 1246 adolescents for a period of four years, they found that the pattern of occasional smoking–one cigarette a month–will lead to an addiction to tobacco.
Nicotine is a quietly seductive drug, weaving its way into our habits and behaviors one drag at a time; and it’s not just cigarettes we have to worry about. In recent years, the insurgence of Hookah lounges has become a “novel and chic way to socialize.” Regardless of social circle, the irregular use of tobacco in any form ultimately leads to nicotine addiction which will lead to a myriad of health issues. Here are just a few of the many statistics posted by The World Health Organization (WHO) via the CDC:
• Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood. Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked. Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth.
• The resting heart rate of a young adult smokers are two to three beats per minute faster than nonsmokers
• Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with a host of other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.
Teens who smoke are more likely to end up in adolescent drug treatment.