Youth Who Smoke Versus Youth Who Don't Smoke

Smoking cigarettes at any age is unsafe. Most adult smokers started smoking before age 18, and wish they could quit. If youth continue to smoke as they currently do, 5.6 million Americans under age 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 in every 13 young Americans today.

Why do some youth start smoking?

  • They see it as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or boredom.
  • They think it will help them lose weight. But teens who smoke do not weigh less than teens who don’t smoke.
  • They think friends or family see it as normal.
  • They see ads, movies, or other media that show it as normal.

Youth are less likely to smoke if:

  • They have a good relationship with at least 1 parent.
  • They live in a smoke-free home.
  • Parents or other adults talk with the youth about smoking.
  • They have had no highly stressful events, like being abused or seeing the abuse of others.
  • They see fewer ads from companies that sell cigarettes.

Youth can find healthy ways to deal with problems. Perhaps the best help in coping with problems comes from other people. A caring family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or spiritual teacher can help a child or teen.

What are some other healthy ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression? Youths can:

  • Keep their bodies moving. Exercise is a great way to let out feelings. Youths can dance to music at home or do some extra cleaning. They can even do leg lifts while watching TV or reading.
  • Eat healthy foods. Add vegetables and fruit to everyday meals for color and freshness.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. They may seem like a quick way to feel better. In the long run, they make more problems and add to stress.
  • Take time out for themselves. They can read, meditate, or soak in a hot bath.
  • Get lots of sleep.

Anyone, especially young people, can feel overwhelmed at times. A counselor or doctor can help youths when other ways to cope fall short. They can also visit Smokefree Teen for help with quitting smoking.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Smokefree Teen