October Tips of the Month: Tips for
Teens About Smoking
Cigarette smoking is perhaps the most
devastating, preventable cause of disease and premature death.
In the United States Tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths
annually(about 443,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these
tobacco-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure. Smoking is particularly dangerous for teens
because their bodies are still developing and changing and the
4,000 chemicals (including 200 known poisons) in cigarette smoke
can adversely affect this process.
Cigarettes are also highly
addictive, both mentally and physically, and can serve as a
major gateway to other forms of drug addiction. Adolescent
cigarette smokers are 100 times more likely to smoke marijuana
and are more likely to use other illicit drugs such as cocaine
and heroin in the future.
Although many people smoke
because they believe smoking calms their nerves, smoking
releases epinephrine, a hormone, that creates physiological
stress in the smoker, rather than relaxation. The addictive
quality of the drug makes the user feel he/she must smoke more
to calm down, when in effect, the smoking itself is causing the
The use of tobacco is
addictive. Most users develop tolerance for nicotine and need
greater amounts to produce a desired effect. Smokers become
physically and psychologically dependent and will suffer
withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. Physical withdrawal
symptoms include: changes in body temperature, heart rate,
digestion, muscle tone, and appetite. Psychological symptoms
include: irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, nervousness,
headaches, fatigue, nausea, and cravings for tobacco that can
last days, weeks, months, years, or an entire lifetime.