Teens and Smoking
How Much Are Kids Smoking?
Smoking and alcohol facts regarding teen substance abuse demonstrate that although tobacco use is down among young people, they are still using this dangerous product more often than they should. Over 15 percent of all 8th graders have tried cigarettes at least once and 8 percent of high school seniors smoke on a regular basis. Nearly one-fifth of all seniors have smoked a hookah, while even more have smoked cigars.
An even more disturbing set of statistics is that nearly 4,000 teenagers try smoking every day in the U.S. Of those, nearly 1,000 will become regular, daily smokers of cigarettes. Half of these, nearly 500 teens, will eventually die as a result of smoking and using tobacco.
Are Teens Smoking Marijuana?
High school drug abuse has always been a problem and today more students are using marijuana. Fifteen percent of 8th graders have tried smoking pot before they even get to high school. By senior year, 43 percent of all high school students have smoked marijuana. Most of these kids report that they access drugs through school and that they know drugs are kept on school premises. Marijuana is often perceived as a safe drug, but it isn’t. Not only is it a mind-altering substance, but the act of smoking can also cause a number of health problems.
How Is Smoking Harmful to Teens?
Smoking cigarettes or marijuana causes immediate health problems in teens, including respiratory problems like difficulty breathing and a persistent cough. Smoking also harms physical fitness. Even teen athletes will find that their performances suffer from smoking and that their resting heart rates go up when they start smoking. Teens who smoke are also much more likely than those who do not to use other drugs or to drink alcohol. In the long term, smoking can lead to cancer in the lungs, esophagus, mouth or throat. It can also cause emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and stroke.
Marijuana can cause similar health problems, especially lung conditions. Marijuana use and academic performance in decline have also been linked. It is a mind-altering substance that can impact memory and cognitive functioning. Long-term cognitive effects are suspected but have not been confirmed by research. With all of these potential problems, why would anyone—especially teens—ever start smoking? In spite of the risks, they still do and it is up to parents and other adults to convince them to resist the urge to try a cigarette or marijuana.