Youth Smoking Called An Epidemic
The report characterized smoking among young people as an epidemic. It found that one of every four kids in high school smoke cigarettes regularly. Approximately three million high school Americans smoke, and over 600,000 middle school children smoke regularly according to the report.
In 1976, 35 to 38 percent of high school seniors smoked at least monthly. By 2007, the number went down to 24-26 percent. But once high school is over, almost a third of all young people under the age of 24 smoke.
Nearly 1,200 people die each day from smoking-related causes, and each day, almost 2,500 young adults begin smoking. “Almost 90 percent of those ‘replacement smokers’ first try tobacco before they are 18, ” said Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin.
American Cancer Society President Dr. Otis Brawley says that the rate of decline is slowing because government investment in anti-smoking programs has gone down.
Centers of Disease Control research has confirmed that starting smoking in ones younger years dramatically increases the risk of addiction to nicotine, making it more difficult to quit than if one starts smoking later in life.
Hundreds of diseases are linked to smoking, including the most devastating of cancers, lung cancer and throat cancer. While most kids do not see any urgency in contracting these illnesses, cardiovascular disease and shortness of breath begin immediately after a person begins smoking regularly. In young people, the growth of the lungs is stalled, which can retard the development of the immune system, nervous system and other body functions. And smoking begins to damage the blood vessels immediately.
Multiple studies have shown that many kids smoke to lose weight. This makes it even more difficult to quit, because of the threat of new weight gain after quitting.
Smoking introduces up to 4,000 chemicals into the body and environment. This means that smokers and whoever is sharing the smoker’s air is exposed to at least 43 known carcinogens and 400 known toxins, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, DDT, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and arsenic, as well as tar and nicotine and many others.
These introduce toxins that cause inflammation – which leads to a variety of issues – including inflammatory weight gain.
Second hand smoke and even third hand smoke – which infants become exposed to when mothers smoke – have both been proven to cause numerous health conditions. Perhaps more awareness of how smoking will affect the health of our friends, family and future family might be considered.