Teenage Smoking

If we want teens to stop smoking, we have to understand why they start

If you want to stop smoking you should probably know why you started-there is always a reason for everything. If we want to help teens stop smoking, then we must ask: what is it that makes a teen light up their first cigarette? Is it Big Tobacco advertising? Stress? Friends or parents? The teenage years are a habit forming stage of life and in the rush to be cool or deal with the complicated modern world, smoking is an easy habit to pick up. There are over 280,000,000 Australians teens who smoke, despite all the efforts to warn them about the harms of tobacco. This shows that warning isn’t enough in the fight to stop smoking-we have to understand the root causes too. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons teenagers start using tobacco in order to better understand how we can help them stop smoking:

Peer pressure: The term peer pressure has become so cliché, but it should never be underestimated. At no other time in life is the pull of peer pressure stronger than during the teenage years. Teens want to fit in and want to be cool, even at the expense of their health. It is hard to get many teens to stop smoking if everybody else is doing it.

Stress: Cigarettes are an unhealthy stress reliever-many people smoke because it is a habit that drains away stress. Modern teenagers are swimming in stress-some are even drowning in it. With pressures at school, in the family, and about the future, it is no wonder many teenagers turn to cigarettes as a recreational way to forget about pressures of life, even if it is for just a few smoke-filled minutes.

Family influences: Many teens pick up the habit of smoking because it is a habit of the family. Their parents smoke, maybe even their grandparents. It is difficult for parents to get their teens to stop smoking of they engage in it themselves. Even though teens seem to want to have nothing to do with their parents, they are still looking up to them more than we think.

Above are just a few of the main reasons teenagers start smoking, but they give us some important insights into the habit. Peer pressure shows us that it is important to earnestly encourage teens to be independent and think for themselves-it is ok for them to make their own choices. This may seem like a platitude, but the more we say the more it will sink in. Stress shows us that we need to take a closer look at how society is shaping teenage life, and more specifically promote a culture of honestly talking about feelings and being able to admit that things have gotten to be too much, instead of letting cigarettes become the mouthpieces of teen stress. Family influences shows us that smoking lights up a chain reaction, and that if parents and adults can’t make good decisions, then we can’t expect teens to be able to make them either. We need to be more honest and open as a society about the root causes of smoking instead of just going after Big Tobacco. Smoking is a habit that can be built upon the foundation of deeper problems in someone’s life, and we need to be able to address those problems if we want people to stop smoking.

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