Health Effects Of Teen Smoking

Why do teenagers take to smoking? This article provides answers to this question and offers suggestions to help your child quit smoking, if he has developed the habit.

By Dr Gowri Shankar Natraj

Health Effects Of Teen Smoking

Teenagers of parents who smoke are most likely to take up the habit. So, why does a teenager smoke? It could be to show that he is a step above his peers, to show that he is independent or to get the attention of the opposite sex. At times, teenagers are also influenced by idols from tinsel town.

20-30% of teenagers take to smoking soon after they enter college. Nowadays, teenagers resort to different forms of smoking like the hookah and e-cigarettes as well. Let's look at how these forms of smoking affect teenagers.

5 common behavioural problems in children

Hookah smoking

Hookah smoking is considered fashionable by teens. It is a misconception that hookah smoking is less harmful than cigarette smoking. Hookah contains tobacco and contains high concentrations of nicotine, carbon monoxide (CO), tar and heavy metals.

Water-pipe smoking has been linked to malignancy, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary dysfunction and nicotine dependence.

It has the potential to transmit infectious diseases since the same mouth-piece is passed from person to person during a session.

How does passive smoking harm your child?

E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are 'low nicotine content' (LNC) cigarettes that are as addictive as typical cigarettes. Smoking e-cigarettes results in the same exposure to harmful chemicals as other nicotine products. 

Consequences of teen smoking

Physical

  • Smoking from an early age increases exposure to carcinogens. 
  • It increases the risk of lung disease, early heart attack, abnormal fat levels leading to metabolic syndrome and oral/lung cancer. 
  • Passive smoking also impairs brain development.

Emotional

  • A teenager who smokes relies more and more on cigarettes to 'de-stress' without realising that smoking only makes him incapable of handling stress.
  • Smoking is said to be a leading cause for depression in teens.
  • Smoking makes teenagers irritable and they tend to isolate themselves. 
  • Teenagers who smoke are caught between feelings of guilt and defiance and this affects their relationship with their parents. 

Tips to help your child quit smoking

As the parent of a teenager who smokes, you can play a crucial role in helping him quit smoking. Here's what you can do:

  • Be a role model for your child to help her develop good habits. If you do not smoke, your child will most likely refrain from smoking. 
  • Be supportive. Listen to your child and show that you care.
  • Monitor the pocket money given to her and make a note of how it is spent.
  • If you discover your child has started smoking, talk to him in person. Never discuss this in front of others.

Raise a mentally tough child who does not succumb to peer pressure. Watch video.

  • Discuss the physical and economic drawbacks of smoking in a gentle manner. 
  • Monitor your child’s activities continuously, but avoid being very strict. 
  • Understand that your teen may have taken to smoking to overcome negative feelings or depression. Seek the help of a counsellor, if required.

If your child starts smoking as a teen, he will find it harder to give it up as an adult. The habit is hard to kick if it is not detected early and if he has not received any support from you. Factors like abusive parents, broken homes, poor scholastic performance and parents’ habits also contribute to teen smoking behaviour.