“Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.”
Have you ever wonder why so much teens are part of the overall population who smokes tobacco? It is an issue that people, programs, and campaigns have been trying to prevent because of the health issues related to tobacco. Despite the strong emphasis that tobacco use is dangerous, why exactly are teens still continuing to do it?
Well, here are some possible reasons why:
- Access to tobacco resources. Whether it’s someone they know or a specific place that they can purchase it, illegal exchanges and distribution are widely spread in the U.S. Teens may have a lot of connections such as a dealer, friends, family, etc., that allows them to have the substance.
- Peer pressure. Teens are easily pressured to grow up by society and people. Those who are older or ‘experienced’ consider themselves highly upon others who have not tried it. So that is why teens are influenced to fit in with everyone by doing what the ‘experienced’ group want. (And this extends more than tobacco).
- Trying too hard to be living the ’stereotype’ teenage life. We all know that there are stereotypes of what American teens should behave like: being rebellious, crazy, wild, party animals, and unpredictable. It is how society project the way teens should act like: partying, having early intercourse, doing drugs, and drinking underage. When teens see those things, they start to accept it and think they should act like that. So some teens may want to live up to those stereotypes because they think that in order to experience the ‘teenage life’, that it is the correct way. (Which it is incorrectly presented and too overrated.) Maybe it’s time for everyone to change their mindset on how they can experience teen life?
- Person pleaser. Sometimes, it’s the individual who is a person who can’t stand up for themselves and other teens take advantage of that. When someone is a person pleaser, they’re easily targeted and do things that they may not want to do. There might be some fear involved that they may lose their friends or judged or not fit in or are afraid and cannot speak up.
- Some teens simply don’t care. Not everyone pays attention to the health risks of using tobacco or don’t care at all. There is not much we can do for them because it is their choice after all. We can advise teens in hope to decrease the amount of teen tobacco users, but at the end of day, it’s up to them to decide.
- Stress? Stress can vary from mild to bad, but teens may turn to more dangerous routes to cope with it. There are other available options to deal with stress. But some teens would not want to discuss about it with someone or try another positive alternative.
- Want to try tobacco? Teens are curious about a lot of things and that is both a good and bad thing. In reality, it is not like teens don’t know using tobacco can harm their body. Some use the excuse of how they just want to ‘try’. We can’t stop their curiosity and decisions when it comes to health related matters. We can only educate them best about the risks.
- Outside influence. Besides the usually circle of friends and family, there are outside influence that causes teens to want to use tobacco. For example, influential people and things such as celebrities, movies, music, magazines, etc. Those kinds of things does put an image in teens’ heads that it’s socially, culturally accepted. Yes, people in the U.S. are allowed to smoke at the age of a legal adult. But it doesn’t apply to the underage population.
- Some teens/kids start younger than expected. And it means kids younger than high school age do use tobacco too. This is a huge problem because that means tobacco use is spreading onto younger kids everyday. It is likely that these younger generations may not realize the larger consequences of using tobacco. And, young tobacco users are more likely to continue when they’re in high school and possibly after it. “In 2012, 6.7% of middle school and 23.3% of high school students currently used tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, snus, smokeless tobacco, pipes, bidis, keteks, dissolvable tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.” – http://www.cdc.gov/
- It could be addiction? Some teens don’t know that tobacco contains harmful chemicals such as nicotine. A substance that is founded to be addictive and could cause nicotine addiction. So that is why it’s hard for people to stop using tobacco. There are those teens who are not aware that tobacco addiction is both a mental and health issue that needs help.