Cigarette smoking is one of the biggest health risks faced by teens today. There is a certain mystique to tobacco use, and peer pressure often makes the situation worse. However, teens should understand that there are serious health complications from smoking early in life. Risks include respiratory diseases, severe coughing, limited physical fitness and blood clots. Long-term smokers often die prematurely.
Smoking at an early age often leads to a life of addiction. According to reports in 2006 by the American Lung Association, about 50 per cent of adult smokers started to smoke heavily before turning 18. Nearly 90 per cent of adult smokers were regular users by the age of 21.
Each day in the United States, more than 3,000 children smoke a cigarette for the first time. Teenagers are especially likely to try tobacco. The average age for teens to first try cigarettes is 16. In 2009, there were more than 3 million adolescent smokers in the United States.
Old Habits Die Hard
Of the 3,000 teens who try cigarettes for the first time each day in the United States, approximately 1,000 will become regular smokers later in life. Of these, nearly half will die because of their habit. After studying the trends, the American Lung Association estimated that 6.4 million American children will grow up only to die prematurely from smoking cigarettes.
Girls and Health Issues
Of all age and gender groups, teen girls are the most likely to start smoking cigarettes. There are serious health complications for such young women. As of 2005, roughly 16 per cent of pregnant adolescents smoked during pregnancy. Teen girls who take birth control pills while smoking cigarettes increase their risk of blood clots and strokes.
Smoking cigarettes is often a gateway into illicit drug use. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, teens who start smoking tobacco are three times more likely to abuse alcohol. They are also more likely to associate with people who introduce them to marijuana and cocaine.
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