Raising a healthy teen begins with having healthy conversations.
It’s Not Just a Phase
Teens go through countless phases. Hair styles, clothes, and slang quickly become outdated. Some think teen smoking is just another phase. It’s not.
The younger someone is when they start using tobacco, the more likely they will become addicted. And it’s very difficult for them to quit once they start – no matter if they’re smoking or using chew. Even if they start out as casual smokers and intend to quit, 3 out of 4 of them become adult smokers – and probably will never quit.
Why Is Teen Smoking So Risky?
While parents aren’t always as concerned about their teens smoking – compared to alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs – the effects of nicotine on a teen’s brain are just as harmful and put them at a greater risk of using drugs and alcohol.
Nicotine damages every part of your teen’s body – including their developing brain – and increases their risk of heart disease, stroke, and the breakdown of lung tissue.
Smoking can also cause bronchitis and pneumonia, along with developing cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, stomach, and bladder. Tobacco can have rapid, short-term effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure.
What Can I Do as a Parent?
– Start taking to your young people early – as young as 11 years old – about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, and even role play how they can refuse a cigarette, e-cig, hookah pipe, or even chewing tobacco.
– Talk about how smoking is portrayed in the media and advertising, and how tobacco companies use tasty flavors – like bubble gum and candy – and enticing packaging to get them addicted, making them lifelong customers.
– Be attentive to their behavior, as nicotine affects the developing brain. Young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who smoke are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop clinical depression. Studies also show that tobacco use is associated with a host of other mental, behavioral, psychological, and learning disorders.
3 Key Takeaways
- Nicotine produces a surge of dopamine – the “feel good” chemical messenger – which leads to cravings for more nicotine.
- Young people may be attracted to smoking or chewing tobacco for any number of reasons — to look cool, peer pressure, or to feel independent.
- Teens who smoke cigarettes are at a greater risk of experimenting with drugs.
Good to Know – Teens who are involved in activities they are passionate about tend to smoke less. Reduce your teen’s risk of possible addiction by encouraging them to get involved at school or in a social cause meaningful to them. To learn more click here