Teen tobacco use is lower than it has been in years, however, smoking remains a threat to the health of millions of teens. Teaching abstinence by demonstration is the best way to help teens refrain from lighting up that first smoke.
Through the years, many anti-smoking initiatives have been aimed at preventing teens and young adults from smoking. This is partly because these groups are heavily targeted by tobacco companies. The theory is that by getting teens and other young people addicted from an early age, they will achieve lifelong consumers of their products. Tobacco products are highly addictive, and the longer someone uses them, the more they will come to depend on them. This means big profits for tobacco companies. Unfortunately, it also means an unhealthy and disease ridden population as young smokers become older smokers and the tobacco use takes its toll.
Why Teens are Important
Those who resist beginning tobacco use as teens are less likely to start smoking later in life. This is the age where most people are forming their opinions on the world around them, and determining who they are and what they believe. Although this is a period of growing up and becoming individuals, it’s also a time when peer pressure is at its highest. Those who hang out with smokers are more likely to try smoking themselves. Those whose parents smoke are also more likely to follow this example.
For these reasons, tobacco companies know teens are prime targets when it comes to getting their products into the hands of new consumers. Older buyers are not as likely to suddenly decide to try smoking, especially as they are more likely to be educated on smoking’s dangerous health effects. Teens are less aware of these consequences, and they may be more likely to think that they are issues older adults have to worry about, rather than young people. They also may not realize just how addictive tobacco can be, and overestimate their abilities to quit before health consequences become apparent.
The key to preventing people from smoking, is to reach them when they are still young and making the decision of whether or not they wish to smoke.
In times past, some thought that teens and children were not able to fully comprehend the impact smoking can have on health. Today, hard hitting campaigns are used to target teens in order to give them the real story on what smoking can do the lungs, heart, and even physical appearance. For instance, the FDA recently launched a series of ads featuring teens pulling out teeth, ripping off skin, and giving up on themselves in order to purchase tobacco products. They aimed to show teens what smoking could cost them. Many similar ads show the toll smoking can have on physical appearance, something highly important to many teens. For instance, smoking can lead to yellowed teeth, gum disease, wrinkles, and bad breath.
Tobacco Free Kids also claims that educating kids and teens on the lies and immoral practices of Big Tobacco can help reduce the number of kids lighting up for the first time.
The Best way to Reach Teens
Smoking among teens has reached lower numbers in recent years. This is due, in part, to the efforts of the FDA and others who have educated young people on the dangers of smoking. The most effective way to ensure the next generation of adults abstains from tobacco products is for parents and other officials to abstain themselves. Those who see their parents avoid cigarettes or quit are less likely to smoke.
Parents, teachers, and other mentors for teens and children are urged to quit smoking. Aids are available, including electronic cigarettes, which studies have shown can help smokers quit permanently.