The Dangers of Teenage Smoking
Cigarette smoking damages nearly every organ of the body and worsens the smoker’s overall health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one of every five deaths in the United States, or approximately 445,000 deaths every year.
Roughly 20 percent of American teens smoke. Tobacco use predominantly begins in early adolescence, typically by age 16. Each day in the United States nearly 4,000 teenagers under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette; within a short period of time over 25 percent of them become daily smokers.
Today in the U.S., there are roughly 6 million teens who smoke despite the known side-effects. According to the Surgeon General, teenagers who smoke are three times more likely to consume alcohol, eight times more likely smoke marijuana, and 20 times more likely to use cocaine.
More than 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking by 18 years of age. Approximately 20 percent of all U.S. adults are smokers today.
Smoking and Cancer
Cigarette smoking and tobacco use causes nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States.
Smoking causes the majority of lung cancer deaths in America: about 90 percent of male deaths and 80 percent of female deaths. The chances that a male smoker will die of lung cancer are 23 times higher than that of someone who’s never smoked. Women who smoke are 13 times greater to die of lung cancer than non-smokers.
Research shows that cigarette smoking is also linked to cancers of the bladder, esophagus, mouth, throat, stomach, kidney, and more. Smoking also is a known cause of some forms of leukemia.
Smoking and Respiratory Disease
Cigarette smoke is terribly harmful to the lungs. The damage starts with the first puff and continues until the smoker quits. 90 percent of lung diseases are caused by smoking. A cigarette smoker’s risk of dying from chronic bronchitis or emphysema is 10 times that of non-smokers.
Cigarette smoking can harm your health even if you’re not a smoker. Exposure to secondhand smoke is believed to cause lung cancer or heart disease deaths of about 50,000 non-smokers every year. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes or workplaces have a 25 percent increase in their heart disease risk and a similar increase in developing lung cancer.
Children who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. They are also more likely to become smokers themselves.
Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease
Smoking is also linked to coronary heart disease. Cigarette smokers are up to four times more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease and twice as likely to suffer strokes. People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
Other Health Effects of Smoking
Effects of cigarette smoking are extensive and cause damage to the skin, eyes and mouth. Smoking prematurely ages the skin, causing facial wrinkles. It also slows the skin’s healing ability and has been linked to skin cancer.
It is important to remember that you can take control of your health by quitting. Become a role model for teenagers and lead by example. Once you give up cigarettes, your body can begin to repair some of the damage smoking has caused.
For information about how to quit smoking, contact your primary care provider.
Dr. Stephen Goykovich is a family medicine physician with Jersey Shore Medical Associates, a partner of Jersey Shore Hospital. For more information, or to request an appoitnmetn, please call 570-753-8620.