It has often been said that people who smoke are simply killing themselves slowly, but if your teen has started smoking, he or she may be facing additional risks to his or her health that the adults don't face. Smoking is a major contributing factor in a whole host of health issues that will affect teens later in life, from osteoporosis to heart disease to cancer. Even worse, though, is that teen smoking interrupts the growth and development of your child before it is complete.
In order to help you understand the dangers of teen smoking, take a look at these statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control:
* Approximately 1,000,000 people die each year in North America from diseases related to smoking
* 90% of all smokers start smoking when they are teenagers
* More than 6,000 kids start smoking each day, and at least 2,000 of them will keep smoking - meaning almost a 1,000,000 new teen smokers each year
* Unless we begin addressing the issue of teen smoking more aggressively, it is estimated that nearly 7 million children will die prematurely because of smoking and smoking-related diseases
Teen smokers get addicted more quickly and from lower levels of nicotine than adults do. Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by twelve times, but the chance of getting another form of cancer (uterine, cervical, kidney, lymphoma, leukemia) is also increased in teens who smoke. Smoking has been linked to increases in heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. More than 90% of people who die from COPD (chronic obstructive lung disease) are smokers. In fact, a person could be 100 pounds overweight and still be healthier than if a teen smoker.
There are several resources available (both public and private) to assist you with teen smoking issues. Many health insurance companies will pay for smoking cessation classes. Cigarettes are extremely addictive and it can be very difficult to quit, and your teen will need your support to kick the habit. Within just a few years of quitting, your teen's lungs will be healthier. After ten years of not smoking, his or her risk for stroke returns to that of a non-smoker of the same age.
Teen smoking decreases life expectancy by at least ten years. It's difficult to get teens to understand how precious those years are when they feel invincible and like they will live forever, but if you are struggling with teen smoking in your home, an anti-smoking campaign that reminds your teen of the dangers every day is absolutely critical.
Many teens begin smoking because they see their parents smoke. If you smoke in your home, your children and grandchildren are exposed not only to second hand smoke but to what has been termed third-hand smoke - the particles that are left behind in furniture, on carpet, and on the walls and contain the same carcinogens. If you smoke, it's even more difficult to address teen smoking. Make a family effort to get healthy.