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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 agitation.

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.


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