According to the American Lung Association, nearly half a million smokers die annually from tobacco-related diseases. Despite these statistics, underage smoking remains a serious problem in the United States.
According to the American Lung Association, each day more than 4,000 individuals under the age of 18 try their first cigarettes. The tobacco industry pinpoints its marketing efforts towards children in an effort to replace those who die each year from lung cancer and other illnesses caused by smoking.
The Family First Aid organisation states that numerous reasons for underage smoking exist, including having a parent who smokes, peer pressure and low self-esteem. According to Nestor Lopez-Duran, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, teens who view movies in which celebrities are seen smoking, are at an increased risk to developing the habit.
Organizations such as Teens Against Tobacco Use, a service of the American Lung Association with chapters around the country, are helpful in educating minors on the dangers of smoking. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also is targeting the problem of underage smoking with a recent regulation banning flavoured tobacco. It reports that this type of tobacco is more likely to encourage minors to start smoking.