Smoking is popular with young people who see it as a desirable adult activity. It is also the case that many young people smoke in order to be part of the ‘in-crowd’ or as a result of peer pressure. They view smoking as a means of relaxation, especially if they feel anxious in a social situation or see it as a way of appearing grown up and mature.
Young people tend to go through a rebellious stage at this time and will experiment with cigarettes, alcohol and drugs as a means of doing this. This is also a stage in life in which a young person is trying to assert him/herself in the adult world as well as defining their identity. They are more likely to listen to their friends than their parents and are highly susceptible to outside influences.
The attraction of smoking to young people
So, if their friends smoke then they are likely to do so as well.
If they want to fit in with a particular group, and members of that group smoke as part of their ‘image’ then they will do the same.
If they know that smoking will irritate or annoy their parents then they will continue to do so.
And if their favourite celebrity, pop star or movie actor smokes then they do so in order to emulate them.
If you and your partner smoke and have a teenage son or daughter then don’t be surprised if they start smoking. If they see it as an approved activity or normal family behaviour then they will try it for themselves.
And to return to the issue of outside influences: children and teenagers are highly receptive to the power of advertising and marketing. And this is something tobacco companies are all too aware of. They pitch their adverts in such a way that shows smoking as a cool and sexy activity which also appeals to the opposite sex.
Smoking may seem like a positive activity but the reality is very different.
Smoking is harmful to your body, hair, skin and life in general. You may think that it is a grown up thing to do but there are many adults out there who have kicked the habit or are trying to stop smoking. They started smoking for any number of reasons but an increased awareness of the health risks and a stigmatisation of smoking has led to an increasing number of people giving up.
The side effects of smoking are:
* Stained teeth and gums
* Bad breath, hair and skin
* Smoker’s cough
* Sore throat and chest infections
* Weakened bones and osteoporosis
* Stomach ulcers
* Increased risk of cancer, for example, lung, bowel, larynx etc
* Cardiovascular diseases
These are just some of the many side effects caused by smoking but the biggest one by far is that of life expectancy. Smoking can take as much as 10 years off your life so why take it up in the first place?
The earlier you stop smoking the better but giving up, even later on in life is still beneficial. If you quit smoking before the age of 30 then you have a good chance of living as long as someone who has never smoked. The longer you smoke the greater the risks, and the damage but giving up will improve your health and increase your lifespan.
Young people often assume that they are immortal and that nothing will happen to them. This may be true whilst they are young but problems are likely to occur over time which also applies to smoking. If a young person starts smoking in their teens then the effects may not become apparent until later on in life.
Pre-teens are less likely to smoke but this changes once they reach their teenage years. Around 20% of 16 year olds smoke, with girls likely to be regular smokers than boys.
If you start smoking then you will find that it costs you in terms of time, money and your health. But if you resist then you will find that you achieve the following:
* Save money: smoking can cost 500 a year or more depending on how much you smoke. So it is not a cheap habit by any means.
* Avoid long term health problems such as cancer, heart disease and strokes.
* Don’t have to buy beauty products to disguise the effects of smoking on your hair and skin.
* Avoid unpleasant nicotine cravings.
* Don’t have to stand outside in the cold having a smoke.
* Avoid hefty dry cleaning bills to remove the stench of cigarette smoke from your clothes.
* Be fit and healthy.
* Live longer.
These are much more appealing then smoking.
If you don’t smoke but are thinking of starting then please don’t: smoking causes too much damage to your health not to mention the fact that it shortens your life expectancy.
If you are currently smoking then the best advice is to quit. We know that this is a hard thing to do as smoking is extremely addictive. It can often take more than one attempt to do so but those who do give up are thankful that they did.
If you stop smoking when you are young then your body will recover from the effects over time. There is more chance of this happening now whilst you are young as compared to when you are older so stop now.
If you are looking to stop smoking then visit our Stopping Smoking section. This contains lots of useful information on how to stop, what treatments are available and where to access help and advice.
If you need help to quit smoking click here.