Do more to discourage teens from smoking and vaping

Walking around Lake Tye’s trail in Monroe there is bound to be a couple of teenagers hanging out smoking, smoke escaping their mouths like a chimney on a Christmas morning. To them nothing but their own conversation mattered.

As spectator’s observed these teens smoke one cigarette after another; they began to silently judge. “They are too young,” “they will ruin their lungs,” “drug addicts,” and “dropouts.” These stereotypes filled those spectator’s heads, but the teens continued what they were doing, without a care in the world, or knowing what and how they were portrayed to others. Teen smoking is a social, health and financial issue that every parent needs to address.

Teenagers see it every day in their daily lives. Google Images portrays women or men smoking and blowing it at the camera, making cool effects and making smoking look like fun. Companies are advertising the “vape pen” in attractive designs that lure teens into buying their products, giving the impression that it is safer for them to use. “It’s a waste of their intellect and resources,” said Jennifer Repin. A regular smoker cannot go a full eight hours straight within a day not smoking; for a teen smoker it would be twice as hard to smoke, having to go through class after class without a break. They would either try to sneak some inside or skip a certain period of time to have their little break.

Health wise, being a teenage smoker can put them at greater risk at getting lung cancer or other health risks that may jeopardize their future. It can also affect the people they smoke around, second-hand smoking is just as effective at giving someone risk of lung cancer and other diseases as the person that is smoking the cigarette. Smoking cigarettes will affect their ability to breath; if a teen smoker is an athlete it will be very challenging for them because of the difficulty that they will endure while doing physical activity.

How will they be able to afford getting the money to buy the cigarettes, let alone buy them from an actual drug store or department? Many stores in the United States have the rule, “No tobacco sales to minors under the age of 18.” But many of these teens find somebody that is over the age of eighteen to buy a pack for them, even though doing so is illegal. “Of the teens who smoked, 58 percent said they got their last cigarette from a friend or family member, according to HealthDay.”

The usual pack of cigarettes are $8.37 plus tax. A typical smoker will go through at least three packs each week. A teen smoker that does not have a job or money, will have a lot of trouble affording their habit of smoking cigarettes. Do they get money from their parents? Or do they just have one of their friends buy a pack for them? By going through at least packs a week could mean at least $90 a month.

“Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become so used to the nicotine in cigarettes that a person needs to have it just to feel normal.” Nearly 35 million people make a serious attempt to quit each year. Almost all adults who smoke have started before 18 and a third of those had their first cigarette before the age of 14.

Teens give into peer pressure, letting others talk them into doing something they never thought they’d ever do, or even think twice about. Teenagers want to feel accepted, so they have to do something to get that approval, they will do whatever it takes to stay around those groups of friends; whether they know anything about what the outcome may be. People need to help teens realize that if they really want to be accepted; they should accept who they are; as they are; and not be someone else. Teen smoking should never be so common as it is today, working to prevent it will be hard, quitting isn’t the easiest way but many try and some succeed. By helping stop teen smoking, adults who are smokers and are around teen smokers need to set an example and into quitting. It will show that smoking isn’t cool, it’s just a waste of money, time, and also effects somebody’s health socially, mentally, and physically.

Alexandra Hadden is a senior at Monroe High School and attends classes at Everett Community College.

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