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Smoking and the Effects It Has on Teenagers

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As a society, we have a long way to go to win the fight against tobacco smoking. If the parents are informed about the hazards of smoking, and recognize when their teen is being pressured or is actually smoking, then they will enact a plan of successful preventive measures that will enhance the life and health of their teenager and family. Just being aware of the circumstances and pressures that lure teens to start smoking will help parents recognize the signs and start early prevention measures that can have successful results. A teen should be aware of the effects of cigarette smoking, that is why all cigarette packs have Surgeons General Warning. The temptation to smoke, like many other things, is a fact of life for many teens. Many teens have smoked a cigarette at least once. For parents the numbers of teenage smoking is impressive and alarming. Research shows that the average teen smoker begins using tobacco products at age thirteen and becomes a daily smoker by fourteen and one and a half(14.5). Smoking rates among teens continue to rise and are currently at their highest levels in sixteen years. Everyday three-thousand kids become addicted to tobacco products and almost one-thousand of these smokers will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. Research shows that more people die from tobacco-related deaths than from AIDS, alcohol, drugs, fires, homicide, motor vehicle and suicide combined. Particularly amazing is the fact that more than three-million young people under the age of eighteen smoke half a billion cigarettes each year and that more than one-half of them consider themselves dependent upon cigarettes. The decision to use tobacco is nearly always made in the teen years, and about one-half of young people usually continue to use tobacco products as adults. Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood. Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked. Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth. In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that early signs of these diseases can be found in adolescents who smoke. Smoking hurts young people's physical fitness in terms of both performance and endurance--even among young people trained in competitive running. On average, someone who smokes a pack or more of cigarettes each day lives seven years less than someone who never smoked. The resting heart rate of young adult smokers are two to three beats per minute faster than nonsmokers. Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. For most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke. Teenage smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times as often as teens who don't smoke, and produce phlegm more than twice as often as teens who don't smoke. Teenage smokers are more likely to have seen a doctor or other health professionals for an emotional or psychological complaint. Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and twenty-two times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is engaged with a host of other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex. In the February 16, 1996, issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's(CDC) there was an article called Accessibility of Tobacco Products to Youths Aged 12-17 Years-United States, 1989 and 1993. The study showed that between 1989 and 1993 the selling of cigarettes to minors rose from 58% to 62%. It stated that in 1993, 45% of minors who ever tried to purchase cigarettes and 57% of minors who ever tried to purchase smokeless tobacco reported that they were never asked to show proof of age. In 1993, for those minors



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