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Dangers of Smoking at a Young Age

Dangers of Smoking at a Young Age

Growing up is tough. Life as a teen or youth can be emotional, stressful, and overwhelming. While it can be hard at times, smoking can make it worse. Learn how to manage stressful situations without using harmful tobacco products like cigarettes and vape pens.

Whether tobacco is rolled or comes in a pen, it’s bad for your overall health. Nicotine is in all tobacco products. Not only is it addictive, but it also damages your brain. While you’re growing, your brain is still developing. You want to take great care of yourself, and smoking does the opposite.

How Smoking Affects Young People

Smoking can cause serious health issues immediately and well into adulthood. Young people who smoke can become addicted to nicotine, have early heart damage, and reduced lung growth. When you are young, active, and smoking, it can hurt your athletic ability and other physical activities. Smoking puts you at risk for cancer, diabetes, certain teeth & gum diseases, bronchitis, and other immune system issues.

Nearly all tobacco use starts during youth, and it grows during young adulthood. More than 3,200 children under 18 smoke their first cigarette every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, 90 percent of smokers start before they’re 18, and almost all start smoking by 26.

Prevention and Cessation: Talking to Children and Teens About Smoking

It’s easier to avoid smoking when you are young than it is to quit as an adult. If you’re a parent of a child or teen, talk to them about avoiding all tobacco use.

It can be a difficult conversation, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Before starting the conversation, make sure you are ready to see it through to the end. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Think of an approach based on your relationship. Whether you have a close relationship or not, keep the smallest details in mind.
  • Start the conversation on a positive note. If you noticed how well-behaved your child has been or their good grades in school, celebrate that success before moving into the discussion.
  • Look for an opening or create one. Look for easy ways to change the topic to smoking. For example, you might ask, “Has anyone at school talked to you about smoking?” or “Do any of your friends smoke?”
  • Ask questions and listen. You might ask, "What made you want to start or think about smoking?” or “What can I do to help you to quit?” Remember, let your child talk while you listen.
  • Remain patient and offer support. Stay present in the conversation, be calm while listening, and look for ways to show support.

Make a Plan to Quit

If you or your child or teen is preparing to quit:

  • Consider why you want to quit and connect it to a goal you can reach.
  • Create a plan to avoid things or people that make you want to smoke.
  • Stay away from situations and feelings that make you want to smoke.
  • Keep a positive mindset.
  • Ask for support from close friends and family.

If you need more support, Frederick Health’s Freedom from Smoking Program can help you pass through the stages of quitting, learn from setbacks, and move forward. During the free, 8-week, 8-session program, you’ll learn triggers, coping techniques, stress management, nutrition, weight management, relapse prevention, and more.

Additional Resources

There are many ways to support children, teens, and youth who want to become smoke-free.

  • SmokefreeTXT for Teens helps teens quit smoking. Once enrolled, they will receive daily support through texts.
  • quitSTART is an app for teens who want to quit smoking. It offers inspiration and tips.

If you’re a teen or parent of a teen who wants to stop smoking, Frederick Health is here to help you through the process. Read more about how our Freedom from Smoking Program can put you on the path to a healthier future.