Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Yet about 3,200 children and teens start smoking every day.
Most primary school pupils do not smoke – only about 1 in 50 smoke. And most high school students do not smoke either – about 9 out of 100 do.
But why do those who smoke ever start?
There is more than just one answer. Some children may start smoking just because they are curious. Others may like the idea of doing something dangerous – something adults do not want them to do. Still others may know many people who smoke and they may think it’s a way to act or look like an adult.
Fortunately, fewer people are starting to smoke than a few years ago. Maybe it’s because more and more people have learned that smoking and tobacco use can cause cancer and heart disease.
But sometimes children may not really think that far into the future to worry about an illness that they might not get for many years.
So let’s talk about the problems that can affect children faster:
- bad breath
- yellow teeth
- smelly clothes
- more colds and coughs
- difficulty keeping up with friends when playing sports
- empty wallet – cigarettes and tobacco products are very expensive!
Let’s find out more about cigarettes and tobacco.
What is smoking and smokeless tobacco?
Tobacco (say: tuh-BA-ko) is a plant that can be smoked in cigarettes, pipes or cigars. It is the same plant found in smokeless tobacco known as dipping, chewing, sniffing, spitting or pluming tobacco. Non-smoking tobacco is not lit or inhaled like tobacco in cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Instead, smokeless tobacco is placed between the lip and gums and sucked inside the mouth.
Tobacco contains nicotine (say: NIH-kuh-against), a chemical that causes a tingling or pleasant feeling – but that feeling only lasts for a while. Nicotine is also addictive (say: uh-DIK-tiv). This means that if you start using nicotine, your body and mind will become so accustomed to it that you will have to have it just to feel right.
Anyone who starts smoking can become addicted to it. If you are addicted to something, it is very difficult to stop doing it, even if you want to. Some children immediately become addicted. And adults are often addicted, which is why so many of them struggle to quit smoking.
Why is it so bad for you?
Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. In fact, every day 1,300 people die from smoking alone.
The nicotine and other toxic chemicals in tobacco cause many diseases, such as heart problems and some types of cancer. When you smoke, you hurt your lungs and heart every time you light it. It can also make it harder for blood to move around in the body, so smokers can feel tired and grumpy. The longer you smoke, the worse the damage.
The other cost of smoking
The use of tobacco also consumes a lot of money. A pack of cigarettes costs about $ 6 on average. That means even if you only buy one pack a week, you will spend $ 312 a year. Some people smoke one pack a day, which adds up to $ 2,190! These are a lot of computer games and clothes that you can rather buy.
How is it?
Usually people do not like smoking or chewing tobacco at first. Your body is smart, and he knows when it’s poisoned. When people try to smoke for the first time, they often cough a lot and feel pain or burning in their throat and lungs. It’s your lungs’ way of trying to protect you and telling you to keep them smoke-free.
Many people also say that they feel sick in their stomach or even vomit. If someone accidentally swallows plum tobacco, they can be sick for hours. Yuck.
What if my friend smokes?
If you have friends who smoke or use tobacco, you can help them by encouraging them to quit. Here are some reasons you may need to consider:
- This will harm their health.
- It will stink their breath.
- This will make their teeth yellow.
- This will give them less endurance when running or playing sports.
- It’s expensive.
- It is illegal to buy cigarettes if you are a minor.
If you think it will help, you can print out articles like this one to give to a friend who smokes. He or she may be interested in learning more about the dangers of smoking.
But people do not like to hear that they are doing something wrong, so your partner may also be a little angry. If this happens, do not push it too hard. In time, your friend may realize that you are right.
Meanwhile, talking to a parent or school counselor can help if you are worried about your friend. When your friend is ready, an adult can help him or her stop forever. If your friend decides to quit, give your support. You can say it’s time to kick some butt!