Though cigarette advertising has long been regulated due to obvious health concerns, this has certainly not stopped some teens from lighting up and getting addicted. There are still strong messages in the media, such as in the case of smoking in films or amongst popular music figures. Of course, peers may also play a role in influencing adolescents to smoke. It has also been demonstrated that there is a link between substance or alcohol abuse and the likelihood to smoke.
What Studies Show
According to a study from Purdue University, teens are more likely to smoke if an older brother or sister has smoked, as well as either parent. Teens were not any less likely to take up smoking if they had parents who began smoking later in life or had recently curtailed their use or quit.
Regarding siblings, the same research shows that an older sibling is 15 times more likely to smoke in a home with open cigarette use. Furthermore, if a younger sibling has an older sibling who smokes, he or she will be six times more likely to smoke as well.
Another study looks at the role that peers can play in influencing young people to smoke. Findings showed friends in middle school can actually have a stronger influence than friends made in high school. Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents continue to have a strong influence throughout the high school years. Differences related to gender have also been noted as well in this regard. For example, in ninth and tenth grade, the odds of a female being influenced by friends to smoke was greater. Yet from ninth to eleventh grade, the trend for the influence of boys on one another saw an increase. Parents were also shown to be less influential on females from tenth grade to twelfth grade.
Though teen smoking overall continues to be at an all time low currently, other substitutes have taken its place. For instance, the popularity of e-cigarettes instead continues to rise amongst adolescents. Use of marijuana continues to be greater than use of cigarettes in this age group as well. In addition, smoking rates have been shown to be higher in rural communities, as well as the southern and Midwestern regions of the United States. Caucasian young people were also shown to be more likely to smoke than blacks or Hispanics of the same age.
Though the use of alcohol and cigarettes amongst adolescents continues to drop, marijuana use is instead on the rise. This reflects the trend of teens being more likely to regard marijuana as being safe to use in more recent years.
It has been shown that smoking in this age group can lead to greater odds of use of illicit drugs. Research shows that teens that smoke are three times more likely to use alcohol. There is also eight times an increased risk for marijuana and 22 times greater the odds for cocaine use. In addition, smoking naturally carries a number of other health risks. This includes a lessened capacity for endurance during physical activity. Smoking also causes a young person’s heart rate to increase over time.
Teen Smoking Prevention
Despite the fact that the number of teens who are smoking is decreasing, it is nonetheless important to emphasize the importance of prevention efforts for teenagers. This can include presentations in schools that emphasize the dangers of cigarettes. Tobacco companies should also do their part to support proper education through funding and help enforce appropriate regulation.
Of course, public attitudes about smoking have changed dramatically over the years as the health risks have surfaced. Many states now oppose indoor smoking for a number of businesses. Those who choose to quit should be encouraged and supported in their efforts. After all, though smoking may not cause more of the severe psychological effects presented by illicit drugs, the health dangers and potential for addiction are alarming enough. By becoming dedicated to giving up cigarettes, a young person can do their health a favor that can make a lifetime of difference.
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