When you think about high school, what do you remember? The prom? Senior Week? Graduation? When you think back, do you remember any peer pressure when it came to drinking, drugs or smoking? However bad it was for us back in the 80’s and 90’s, because today’s teens have so much more access to information through modern-day technology, it’s worse for them.
Statistics show that one out of five teenagers smoke cigarettes, with more than 3,000 young people becoming regular smokers every day. While teens fully know that smoking is harmful to their health, they are also heavily influenced by what they see on TV, in the movies and of course, from their friends. As a result, teens are much more likely than adults to believe common myths about smoking, which can deter them from successfully quitting. Regardless of where these myths come from, making sure that our kids are aware of these untruths is key in helping them to successfully not smoke.
Project CONNECT, a tobacco cessation and reduction program developed specifically for adolescents by Caron Treatment Centers, has outlined five common misconceptions about tobacco that often prevent teens from achieving their smoking cessation goals:
- Smoking can help to relieve stress. Many teenagers who smoke claim to do so as a way to cope with stress – but it is proven that smoking does not decrease stress levels. In fact, according to a review of psychological studies featured in the American Psychological Association’s American Psychologist, nicotine has been shown to actually intensify stress among smokers.
- “Light smoking” is less dangerous. Whether you smoke one cigarette or a whole pack, smoking is harmful to your health. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption and even teens that only smoke a few cigarettes per day run the risk of developing smoke related cancer and other related diseases.
- Young people don’t need to worry about the health effects of smoking. Smoking-related diseases and complications don’t just happen to older, long-term smokers – they can happen to any smoker at any time.
- Social smokers cannot get addicted. Many teens will smoke to fit in socially and don’t plan on making a habit of it. According to the American Cancer Society, anyone who starts smoking can become addicted to nicotine, and may have difficulty quitting over the long-term.
- Teens can quit smoking on their own. Many teens believe that quitting tobacco is easy and does not require professional assistance. However, according to the Youth Tobacco Cessation Collaborative, 3 out of every 4 adolescent smokers that have tried to quit smoking and have failed because teens generally lack the awareness about strategies and resources needed to successfully quit.
Have a discussion with your tween or teen about smoking and make sure they are educated about the dangers and consequences of their actions, and hopefully they will never start smoking.
For additional resources and facts on smoking cessation for teens, please visit Project Connect.