The Dangers of Youth Tobacco Use

The Dangers of Youth Tobacco Use

The use of tobacco is a catalyst for many premature health problems, especially for youth. Many youth reported using tobacco as a coping mechanism to help with stressors in their lives. However, the negative health effects of tobacco use outweighs the temporary relief it brings. In order to help youth stay away from tobacco use, we want to inform them of the dangers of tobacco and help them better understand what the risks are.  In this article we will discuss factors that influence youth to start vaping, including peer pressure, advertising, stress relief, and  parental smoking. We will also explain how addictive tobacco use is and provide examples of the health problems that are associated with it.

Risk Factors

Peer pressure is one of the  many reasons  youth smoke. It is reported that 57.69% of youth start tobacco use due to peer pressure. Many young adults are encouraged by their friends to start smoking  nicotine or e-cigarettes.  This has happened to a lot of people, including people I know personally. The people influencing them would say, “if you don’t do this you’re a little punk,”or start name-calling them. 

Another factor is the increased advertisement. In 2019, the largest cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent 8.2 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone. According to scientific research, tobacco companies’ marketing and advertising encourage young people to start using the product. Teenagers who see advertisements for tobacco usually think the ads are interesting. Ads for tobacco make smoking seem alluring, which may encourage more young smokers.

 Additionally, youth could be influenced by parental smoking when children observe their parents smoking and decide to start smoking themselves. Children and teenagers who witness adults smoking, especially their parents or other family members, are more likely to start smoking themselves because they may believe that smoking is a normal behavior and a sign of adulthood and maturity. Twelve-year-olds whose parents smoked were reported to be more likely to start smoking cigarettes more frequently between the ages of 13 and 21 compared to children whose parents did not use tobacco. 

Stress is also another factor as to why the youth are smoking nowadays.  Many smokers claim that they smoke to reduce their stress or that they smoke more when they are under stress. Stress is cited as the leading cause of relapse among people who have successfully quit smoking. However, smoking doesn’t actually make you less stressed. In fact, it might actually make people feel more tense and anxious.

Youth Tobacco Use and Mental Health

Multiple studies have confirmed the link between a variety of mental illnesses and drug abuse. This includes youth from all cultural backgrounds. The majority of teens who use tobacco suffer from depression and use it to cope with stressful social environments. However, despite the belief that it relieves stress, it actually is the opposite. Truth Initiative, a tobacco control nonprofit, states that, “studies have shown that nicotine can worsen anxiety symptoms and amplify feelings of depression.” Using tobacco does not cause depression, it makes an individual’s pre-existing mental illness more severe. Seeking help from a healthcare professional can be the ultimate solution to helping teens that experience mental health problems. However, there is the misconception that poor mental health is a “normal” phase that every teen goes through at some point and this may cause teens who reach out for help to be neglected. 

Brain development issues are a major health problem that accompanies the usage of tobacco. Tobacco can be consumed in many ways. Among teens, e-cigarettes or vapes are used the most. Tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine that is addictive. The reason nicotine is so addictive lies within our brain’s neurology. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for making you feel happy when it is released. Nicotine increases the rate at which dopamine is released rapidly and makes the consumer feel soaring levels of happiness. The brain rewires itself and asks for more nicotine once that rush of happiness is over. With each consumption, higher levels of nicotine are required for the same effect and this is how nicotine dependance is developed. E-cigarettes contain nicotine at very high concentrations and pose a great threat to teens who are the major consumers of e-cigarettes, along with young adults. This age group is prone to develop more profound levels of substance dependance than adults. In addition, they are also prone to developing disease faster and cognitive decline.

Message from Youths to Youths and Adults

There are various ways that can help you stay away from harmful things such as tobacco use.  First, research in depth about what tobacco use really is and how it can really damage you as a whole. Knowing about how vaping can affect your health will definitely help you stay away from its use. Smoking can cause diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and ect., which are long term damages to your body and organs. Moreover, many youth see smoking tobacco as a way to “fit in” with their group of friends, which  is why it is important to choose your friends carefully. Choose friends who will be supportive and are respectful of your decisions.

As adults, setting a really good example for  youth is really important because youth see adults as role models. If you smoke, do not smoke near them because that will encourage them to also take up the habit. Additionally, make sure to tell them how difficult quitting this habit can be by trying to quit to set a good example. Also, advise them to attend or participate in school sponsored smoking prevention programs where they can learn more about how harmful tobacco is to help prevent those who don’t smoke from starting to smoke. Additionally, if you are a parent of a youth who uses tobacco, try to talk to them so you are able to understand the reason why they are using it so you can help them with their quit journey and help them recover from the addiction. 

In conclusion, tobacco products contain nicotine which is an addictive substance that makes youth more prone to severe health problems because their brains are still developing. To prevent youth from smoking, vaping or other forms of tobacco use, advising them to attend or participate in school sponsored smoking prevention programs is important because it will help them understand the dangers associated with tobacco use. Nicotine is extremely addicting and it can damage the mental and physical health of youth. If we can have everyone on the same page and tobacco use promotion gets stopped, the world would be a much better place. Youth are the future and nicotine has become a big problem that is stopping them from their full potential. 

 

Written by WellShare Youth:

 

Abdirahin Kewdan

Melanie Andrade Valdo

Suado Abdi

 

Reference:

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