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Friend Who Smokes A Pack A Day

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,
One of my friends is only 14 and she smokes about a pack a day!! Is this anyway ok??? What are the risks of smoking at this age???
Signed: Friend Who Smokes A Pack A Day

Dear Friend Who Smokes A Pack A Day,

 

In no way, is this ok. TeenHealthFX would like to take this opportunity to let you know the hazards of cigarette smoking.

 

Here are some facts from the American Lung Association:

  • Nicotine, the primary psychoactive substance in tobacco, is considered by many medical authorities as being more addictive than alcohol or cocaine.
  • More than 434,000 people die each year from tobacco related illness, making it the single most preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • 1,000,000 teenagers who begin smoking annually replace those who die from smoking each year plus those who kick the habit.
  • Tobacco kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fires and AIDS combined.
  • Nearly 20% of American teenagers smoke cigarettes.
  • About half of all daily smoking high school seniors say they would like to quit.
  • Less than 5% of daily smoking high school seniors think they will be smoking in five years. Follow up studies show that 73% of daily smoking high schoolers are still daily smokers 8 years later.
  • Children ages 12 to 14 have the highest rate of initiating daily smoking. Of those pack a day smokers in their senior year in high school, 57% began smoking by age 14 (ninth grade).
  • The majority of all current smokers began their addiction by age 16.
  • More than 5,000,000 children living today will die prematurely because of their decision to smoke cigarettes.

Pretty scary huh! Not to mention that it makes your clothes and hair smell, as well as staining your teeth and making your breath smell bad.

 

Despite all the warnings many people still continue to light up. Many young people do not think that anything bad will happen to them or they can quit anytime they want. The truth is nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. The human brain has circuits that control feelings of pleasure. Dopamine (a brain chemical) contributes to the desire to use drugs. Nicotine spikes an increase in dopamine. When someone smokes, the nicotine goes quickly to the brain. In just 10 seconds, the pleasurable effects of smoking reach peak levels. Within a few minutes the pleasure is gone, and the craving for a cigarette begins a new cycle. If someone uses nicotine over and over his or her body develops tolerance for it. Eventually a person can become addicted. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit. People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting, and fewer than 1 in 10 people who try to quit smoking succeed.

 

Teen smoking has become such a critical issue that the National Institute On Drug Abuse has opened a Teen Tobacco Addiction Treatment Research Center in Baltimore, MD. To find the best treatment for young people.

 

The fact that you wrote about your friend indicates that you are concerned about her. If you use some of this information, try not to preach because it will only turn her off. Let her know that you worry that she is damaging her health. Recognize that this is a very difficult addiction to stop and takes a lot of determination. If she tries to stop and fails, be supportive and encourage her to try again. If your friend is having trouble quitting, persuade her to talk to her doctor. Most physicians are trained to deal with nicotine addiction. He/she may also be aware of a program in your area that is geared towards helping young people quit cigarettes.

 

If you live in northern New Jersey and would like to meet with a doctor, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center For Health at 973.889.6350 for an appointment.

Please do not try smoking; it is not worth it.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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