Smoking: Don’t Do It
The smell of cigarettes and the cost of smoking a pack or more a day are only the obvious, immediate negative aspects of being a smoker, but smoking is much more than just a smelly and expensive habit. Most people who smoke actually become addicted, and this leads to a collection of health problems that far outweigh any benefits that one might feel when they smoke. For teenagers, understanding the problems and risks associated with smoking is highly important, as people who become addicted often start during this stage in their lives. According to statistics, nearly 4,000 people younger than 18 start smoking every day. In addition, 90 percent of adult smokers started before they turned 18 years old.
The nicotine in tobacco is the substance that makes cigarettes addictive. When a person becomes addicted to a substance, they are unable to stop using it, even though they are aware that it is causing them harm. This happens because their minds become accustomed to and need the feelings that come from taking that substance. Nicotine and the fact that it is highly addictive is just a part of the problem when it comes to smoking. Cigarette smoke also contains thousands of other chemicals, gases, and poisons, such as cyanide, arsenic, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and tar, for example. This can cause a number of problems that affect one’s health, appearance, and ability to function. Some of these problems may manifest during a person’s teens, while others may develop over time with long-term use. When it comes to health, the most well-known problems occur with the lungs and affect breathing. These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Teens who enjoy participating in athletics will find that smoking makes it difficult. This is in part due to the carbon monoxide that is inhaled while smoking. Carbon monoxide causes a number of things to occur, such as a decrease in the amount of oxygen going to red blood cells. As a result, the heart has to work harder to get oxygen to the muscles and other parts of the body. This is a problem when participating in sports and even regular activities, as there will be an increase in fatigue, difficulty breathing, and soreness.
Appearance is important for everyone, particularly during the teenage years. While the health risks are of the greatest concern, the changes to a smoker’s physical appearance can be startling. Skin suffers the most obvious effects of long-term smoking, as it can age prematurely. Smoking can cause increased wrinkling, particularly around the mouth, as well as sagging, dryness, and chronic inflammation of the skin known as psoriasis. In addition, it can also cause acne and blemishes that are slow to heal. Other changes include dulling of hair, increased graying and hair loss, bloodshot eyes, and discoloration of the fingernails and fingers of the hand that holds the cigarette. Smoking will also negatively impact a person’s smile, as it can stain teeth and cause inflammation of the gums and loss of teeth. Bad breath, or halitosis, is another unfortunate side effect that comes from smoking. These changes become more severe the longer a person smokes, yet for someone who starts smoking in their teens, they can begin to show as early as their 20s.
Choosing to smoke may seem like the cool thing to do, but the consequences aren’t just yours to suffer. A teen who decides to smoke puts everyone around them in jeopardy. Friends who inhale secondhand smoke are also breathing in the dangerous chemicals, but not by choice. Secondhand smoke can cause health problems for them as well. Dogs, cats, and other pets are also susceptible to secondhand smoke and can develop problems such as cancer. Even picking up a pet after having a cigarette can transfer some of the harmful elements from cigarette smoke to their body.
For even more reasons to avoid smoking, click on any of the links listed below:
- Effects of Smoking on Your Health
- Youth and Tobacco Use
- Smoking and Physical Activity
- Smoking Kills More Than Just People (video)
- TeensHealth: Smoking
- For Teens: Straight Talk About Smoking
- Health Effects: Now, Later, and After Quitting
- Tobacco Harm to Kids (PDF)
- Drug Facts: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes
- Information on Teens and Smoking
- Why Do Teens Still Smoke?
- Ending Teen Smoking
- Tobacco Fact Sheet for Teens (PDF)
- What Happens to Teen Smokers?
- Teen Smoking Quick Facts (PDF)
- Brains of Teens Who Smoke Show Early Signs of Addiction
- Center for Young Women’s Health: Cigarette Smoking
- Smoking Facts for Teens: What You Should Know
- Not Smoking: A Choice for Teens
- Tobacco Addiction: Complications
- Smoking and Teens: Ten Reasons Not to Start
- Health Effects of Smoking Among Young People
- Nicotine Dependence
- Pictures of How Smoking Affects Your Life and Looks
- How Smoking Ruins Your Looks
- How Smoking Affects the Way You Look (PDF)
- Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting
- Effects of Smoking on the Body
- Smoking In-Depth Report
- Drug Facts: Tobacco/Nicotine
- Dentist in Bloomington
- Bloomington Orthodontists
- Periodontist in Bloomington