Unbeknown to many, more than 80% of smokers start puffing cigarettes before the age of 19. According to Cancer Research UK, teenage smoking rates are up 24% in the Great Britain alone. Smoking, if started during teenage years, develops into a deep and long-term nicotine addiction. Crucially, several researches have proved that most people, who don’t start smoking in their teen years, never smoke in their life.
Smoking cigarettes regularly in teenage years poses a big health risk. Besides the already known risks of smoking, young smokers are vulnerable to several other problems as well. Young female smokers have three times a higher risk of infertility compared to non-smokers. Moreover, chances of brain haemorrhage are six times higher in teen smokers than teens who don’t smoke.
A study conducted on 650 teenagers aged 14-17 years in the UK found that 98% teens were aware of the ill-effects of smoking, yet one in five teens continue to be hooked on cigarettes. Looking at the fact it is clear that just the knowledge of the health risks can’t convince teens for smoking cessation.
Behaviour of teenagers in the turbulent phase of adolescence is too complex to understand, so is their reasons to smoke. Where some teens feel like they are older and wiser when they smoke, others do it to cope up with stress. Interestingly, research has found that only 9% teens smoked out of addiction, whereas 34% puffed due to stress. Teenagers love attention and most of them think smoking as a way to achieve this.
Girls in their teenage years usually smoke to lose weight. Besides, peer pressure, boredom, advertisement, movies and self-image have been identified as other motivations to smoke amongst teens. Chances of smoking have been found high in teens whose parents, siblings or best friends smoked.
If you have found that your teen is lighting up and you want to help them quit smoking, your best bet is to avoid scolding or lecturing them. Instead, you should try to understand why smoking appeals to them. Making teens count the immediate unpleasant consequences like smelly breath, stained teeth and less money works better than warning them about future problems.
Teenagers who smoke are aware of the weekly, monthly or yearly cost of smoking and that they can use their money on. Let them understand that challenges of quitting smoking. Don’t nag, instead support them and let them take their decision to quit.
QuitFullStop is an online information portal specialising in smoking cessation.Free, impartial advice and online tools are available to educate people on why quitting is a positive step and the successful ways to stay smoke-free.