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Teenage Smoking

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Teenage Smoking

Cigarette smoking is a habit that kills approximately million of people per year. It is surprisingly being picked up by countless amounts of children every day. Smoking becomes a growing trend in the youth community. The number of young smokers has been increasing in most American middle schools and high schools. Both girls and boys are smoking because they think it is cool. Many of them will take this their trend and carry it for their adulthood. The four reasons that cause many teenagers to start smoking are peer-pressure, image projection, rebellion, and adult aspirations. Approximately 3,000 teenagers pick up the smoking habit each day in America. That is roughly one million new teenage smokers per year. The anti-smoking message has never been louder or more prominent. Yet the numbers suggest that the anti-smoking message is having a reverse effect. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of college students who smoke jumped from twenty-two percent to twenty-nine percent. Between 1991 and 1997, the number of high school students who smoke jumped thirty-two percent. In 1996, smoking rates are twenty-one percent among eighth-graders (13-14 years old), thirty percent among 10th-graders (15-16 years old), and thirty-four percent among 12th-graders (17-18 years old). Since 1988, the total number of teen smokers in the United States has risen an amazing seventy-three percent. These rates are impressively high, especially when compared to the fact that about twenty-five percent of all adults, who carried the trend past teenage years, are classified as smokers according to the National Health Interview Survey. According to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, this trend of smoking has all the elements consistent with a tipping point phenomenon. Gladwell's three criteria for a tipping point phenomenon are all meet with smoking.

Cigarette smoking peaked in 1996 among eighth, and tenth graders nationwide, and in 1997 among 12th-graders. Since those peak years, there has been a gradual decline in smoking rates, which continued in 1999. (Johnston). Rates of daily smoking are also down from their peak levels (in 1996 for eighth- and 10th-graders and in 1997 for 12th-graders) but did not show much improvement in 1999 specifically, according to Johnston.

"Because young people tend to carry the smoking habits they develop in adolescence into adulthood, the substantial and continuing increases in teen smoking bode ill for the eventual longevity and health of this generation of American young people," concludes Johnston. "Hundreds of thousands of children from each graduating class are likely to suffer appalling diseases, and to die prematurely, as a result of the smoking habits they are developing in childhood and adolescence." Young people continue to report cigarettes as being easily available to them: seventy-seven percent of the eighth-graders, who are 13 or 14 years old, report that cigarettes would be "very easy" or "fairly easy" for them to get, and ninety-one percent of the 10th-graders say the same thing.

The teen smoking trend does not simply illustrate the Law of the Few (connectors, mavens, and salesmen). Teen smoking also is a very good illustration of the Stickiness Factor because the fact that overwhelming numbers of teens experiment with cigarettes as a result of their contacts with other teens, which is no surprise. The problem with teenage smoking is that many of those teenagers end up continuing their cigarette experiment until they get holed. This is a considerable reason on why smoking has turned into public health enemy number one. The smoking experience is so memorable and powerful for some people that they cannot stop smoking. Therefore, smoking habits stick.

It is important to keep the terms contagiousness and stickiness separate because they follow very different patterns and suggest very different strategies. Specialists in stickiness have a genius for creating messages that are memorable and that change people's behavior. Contagiousness is in larger part a function of the messenger. Stickiness is primarily a property of the message. Smoking contains these factors, whether a teen picks up the habit depends on whether he or she has contact with a Salesman who gives the teen "permission" to smoke. But whether or not a teenager likes cigarettes enough to keep using them depends on various factors. A study performed by the University of Michigan polled a large group of people about how they felt when they smoked their first cigarette. According to Ovide Pomerleau, one of the researchers, almost everyone in their initial experience with tobacco was somewhat averse. But what separates smokers to be from never again smokers is the smoker to be felt a pleasurable experience or "buzz" from smoking tobacco. Of the people who experimented with cigarettes only a few times and never smoked again, only about one-fourth received any king of "buzz" from their first cigarette. One-third of ex-smokers, who smoked but later quit, felt the "buzz" while they smoked their first cigarette. Half of all light smokers felt the "buzz" and seventy-eight percent of heavy smokers got a "buzz" from their first cigarette. The initial reaction of how a person reacts to nicotine will determine how sticky smoking ends up being to any single person.

Why has there been such an increase in the number of smoking young people? There are several causes for this trend. First, it is the peer pressure. Group acceptance is one of the reasons that cause many teenagers to start smoking. They smoke based solely on the fact that cigarettes make them look cool. For example, if their friends are smoking, many teenagers will begin smoking simply to maintain their acceptance within the group. On the other hand, some of the young people start smoking just out of curiosity. From this curiosity, they will try smoking, and whether they like it or not will be the basis for their decision. However, I know most of them will not quit after their first cigarette because if they quit, then their friends might say that you are not cool. For instance, if you have a group of friends, and every one of them smokes except you, then you feel weird when you hang out with them. As a result of feeling weird in front of your friends, you now have a sudden urge to start smoking simply because you want to act the same as your friend does. About 60% of all high school students try smoking by the time they are seniors because they think it is a cool thing to do (Johnston).

Over the past decade, the anti-smoking movement has moved against the tobacco companies for making smoking cool and has spent millions of dollars of public money trying to convince teenagers that smoking is not



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