Most of the addicted elderly smokers began smoking in their teenage years. It is, therefore, vital to learning the factor that encourages smoking and other statistics available so as to understand the remedies that should be taken towards addressing this menace due to the effects of this habit of smoking. There are many factors encouraging smoking, and many will have exploration in this paper including socio-demographic influences, personal factors, social learning factors as well other factors such as second-hand cigarette or tobacco smoke. The research helps in exposing many of the incidences of teenage smoking, the motivation factors, its impact on the health of the teenagers, how to address the problem and other information that is relevant to the topic under discussion.
The Risk Factors
There have been several interventions undertaken for the purpose of tackling the prevention as well as the reduction of teenage smoking. It is, however, apparent that there is a need for more research into this area so as to create effective programs that can be helpful in preventing and curtailing smoking incidences among the teenagers. Although there are tobacco controls policies that have had an implementation in the various countries and nations in the United States and other parts of the globe, smoking among teenagers is still alarming. Just to mention, the smoking policies that have been implemented include then reduction of the age of the people that are buying cigarettes to eighteen years and above, and a smoking ban from the ages of 17 and below. Despite the fact that those legal restrictions are imperative in the reduction of smoking, it is essential also to examine the environments of the teenagers and how those environments can encourage smoking (Levy, et al., 2004).
There are numerous studies that have taken place to examine the influence that parent smoking can have won teenagers and its uptake to habitual smoking. Household smoking practices can greatly determine whether the teenagers will have the smoking habit or not. When there are smoking bans in households, it is apparent that teenage smoking in that household will have low chances of smoking. The creation of non-smoking environments is indispensable for discouraging smoking among teenagers, but smoke-free homes are the key to discouraging smoking among the teenagers (Hersch, 1998). Although some homes have strict rules aimed at discouraging the teenagers from smoking, if there is a parent that smokes in that home then the rules will not have any effect in discouraging smoking of teenagers. It is not only the parents that can encourage the teenagers to smoke in a household, but also, any member of that household can easily influence the teenagers to begin smoking.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that there is a prevalence of smoking and then social disadvantage. The parents that dwell in the areas where there is social deprivation have high probabilities of becoming smokers (Leone, 2004). The people that live in those areas use smoking as a way of coping with stress relieve frustration and boredom. The implication of that fact is that the teenagers that live in the socially deprived areas have a predisposition of experimenting on smoking and that results in regular smoking. It is also easy for the children from the socially disadvantaged backgrounds to be lured into smoking as compared to their counterparts from the socially advantaged families. That can be possible especially when those teenagers have no strict rules, and there are household members that smoke.
The smoking habit among the teenagers can also be influenced by the cigarette advertisements on the televisions. The cigarette advertising campaigns on the televisions play significant roles in encouraging the teenagers to smoke (Reid, McNeill, and Glynn, 1995). For instance, the advertisement of new brands of cigarettes can cause anxiety among the teenagers who may want to try out that brand. For instance, the antismoking campaigns in the past have blamed the R.J. Reynolds’s advertising campaign to the increase of teenage smoking (Hersch, 1998). The campaign entailed Joe Camel, a cartoon character that mostly featured on magazines and billboards’ advertisements. That cartoon was very popular among the teenagers, and it was not long before it became a recognized figure that attracted more and more teenage smokers. Such advertisements nowadays are on the televisions, and they greatly influence the teenagers to begin smoking.
When much freedom is given to the teenagers, it can also be dangerous because those teenagers can do things that are not good including smoking. That means that those teenagers will have exposure to the people that smoke and consequently influence these teenagers to do the same. Research shows that teenagers smoke because they are so independent, that means more responsibility and stress, as well as less parental control. The teenagers that school in boarding schools are at more risk of becoming habitual smokers as compared to their peers who are day scholars. That is because during their leisure times or at night, they can make arrangements and bring cigarettes into their dormitories or the field. When the teenagers are also left alone to work while studying, they can be encouraged to smoke because they will be having their money that most of the time are not spent in making any investments (Golden, 2009).
Many teenagers also begin smoking due to underestimation of the fact that they will take up that smoking to adulthood, thereby becoming addicted to smoking. It has been discovered that in America alone, the more than six million smokers continue to smoke despite their knowledge that there exist potential hazards to their health. The studies also show that the teenagers that smoke have a high likelihood that they will continue to smoke the rests of their lives (Hersch, 1998). The use of Nicotine among the teenager is also something that makes the teenager have this habit of smoking because this drug is known as a ‘gateway drug.’ The user of this drug has a more likelihood to continue using other drugs like tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, among others as compared to the ones that do not use the drug. The teenagers that smoke may think that they immune to the negative impacts of the effects of smoking to their health, only to realize that they still have respiratory illness and reduced lung growth.
The other thing that also encourages the teenagers to start smoking is that the antismoking groups only focus on the teenager prevention from smoking without paying attention to the fact that a large number of adult smokers makes a smoking habit to seem a socially acceptable habit to the teenagers. It should be known that smoking is a more conformist act, and the smoking inductee makes the smoking more attractive via their messages of ‘everybody does it (Sussman, Ping, and Clyde, 2006).’ tobacco is also treated as a gateway drug, and that hinders the war against teenage smoking. The gateway theory that is having application as a way to stop the teenagers from smoking criminalizes teenage smoking, and it punishes the teenagers how is caught smoking. It restricts the access of teenagers to cigarettes, but the teenagers always find other ways to acquire the cigarettes. It is thus imperative to address the issue of both adults as well as teenage smoking so as to change the acceptance of overall smoking in the society.
There are also laws that have been formulated to prevent the teenagers from gaining access to drugs, but they have not succeeded in preventing them from smoking. The focus on those laws only results in blaming of teenagers, their parents, and friends, and they may lead to more laws that criminalize teenagers from possessing cigarettes. The tobacco industry is benefiting from such ways because the law diverts the attention of this problem to the industry’s marketing practices. Such a kind of preventive strategy is very is being implemented by health practitioners and other antismoking campaigns, but it is ineffective with low success rates. The teenagers are still exposed to homes, workplaces and the media that highly influence their smoking habits. The exposure to second-hand smoke is something that can be very influential than people think.
Smoking has been discovered to compromise the immune system, thereby making smokers have a high likelihood of having respiratory infections (Reid D. et. al, 1995). The immune system is the way the body uses to protect itself from diseases and infections. There are also other autoimmune diseases caused by smoking such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s diseases. Smoking is also a causative agent for periodic flare-ups of symptoms and signs for another autoimmune disease. It increases the chances of one developing the rheumatoid arthritis. Sit has also recently been associated with type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes. The teenage smokers have a more likelihood of developing the type 2 diabetes as compared to their peers that do not smoke (Reid D. et. al, 1995). Studies also show that the more a person smokes, the more the risk of being infected with diabetes.
Smoking also has a negative impact on the bones. Recent studies have shown that the use of tobacco greatly decreases bone density (Hersch, 1998). It is one of the ways that increase the risk for osteoporosis besides other risks factors such as alcohol consumption, weight, and activity level. Osteoporosis is the weakening of the bones to the point of fracturing. It was stated earlier that teenage smoking can create a habit of taking up the smoking to adulthood. That will result in a significant bone loss in the adulthood. Los bone mass and fractures can have a reduction by quitting smoking among teenagers although it may take many years to lower the risk. Also, smoking from the early years makes puts ladies at a higher risk getting osteoporosis as compared to men. It lowers the level of estrogen in the then body which can in turn lead to earlier menopause in women, hence boosting the risks of osteoporosis.
Also, the chemicals that are present in tobacco smoke are very harmful to the blood cells, and they can damage the functioning of the heart. The damage will increase the risks one getting atherosclerosis which is a disease whereby a waxy substance builds in the arteries hence blocking them (Sussman, Ping, and Clyde, 2006). There can also be chest pains, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and damage to arteries. The smoking can also cause strokes due to the clotting of blood or bleeding of the brain cells. The second-hand smoking can also lead to damage of the blood vessels because once somebody smokes the cells in the body reacts to the chemicals in the smoke. The blood pressure and the heart rates continue to increase as the blood vessels become thicker and narrower.
Countering Teen Smoking
The most useful approach to counter teen smoking is by the use of educating the teenagers concerning the effects of smoking (Sussman, Ping, and Clyde, 2006). The knowledge is essential because it will put the responsibility of avoiding smoking among teenagers from an early age. There should also be the increase in prices for cigarettes, and that can deter smoking because teenagers normally have no enough funds to spend in buying such expensive stuff. Studies have shown that teenagers are more sensitive to prices as compared to adults. For instance, when Canada increased the prices of cigarettes in the early 1980s, teen smoking greatly reduced up to 60 percent (Reid D. et. al, 1995). The above study in the United States demonstrates that while the increase in cigarette prices does not affect the experimentation of smoking, it is very substantial in reducing teenage smoking when the habit has been established.
A multi-component intervention strategy among the society and schools should have development so as to effectively counteract this menace. All schools should come up with school policies regarding tobacco use and enforce them accordingly. There should also schools programs aimed at providing the teenagers with smoking prevention education among all the graders. Those instructions should especially have application in middle as well as in junior high school. The schools and the community should educate the teens on the consequences of smoking, both short and long-terms. The other things that should be addressed are the reasons why teenagers say they smoke the motivating factors or social influences that influence teen smoking, and how the teens should keep away from the habit. It is also imperative for schools to offer social skills to teenagers that should help them to resist social influences that have been known to promote smoking and tobacco use.
No matter the age of a person, smoking endangers their health and it can be hard to stop. The difficulty in stopping the habit is due to the addiction that it creates in a person and the addiction makes somebody have a desire to smoke every time. It is much easier not to start smoking rather than stopping to smoke. Stopping this problem among the teens requires a collaborative effort among all the teen surrounding environments like home, schools and the community. These parties should join hands and teach teenagers on the reasons they should quit smoking and protect teenagers from second-hand smoking. These programs should not only aim the teens, but they should also incorporate the control of smoking among adults. That is abacuses smoking among teens can be motivated by the environment in which they live, work and study.
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