Smoking Facts

Talking About Smoking
Research has shown that youth who start smoking during adolescence will be faced with lifelong health consequences. As trust and respect develops between you and your mentee, you may find yourself in an ideal position to help them make healthy choices.
  • Research shows that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. In the United States, for example, smoking accounts for about 1 of every 5 deaths each year.
  • If youth don’t start smoking by the end of high school, they are much less likely to ever smoke.
  • The symptoms of serious nicotine addiction often occur weeks or even days after a youth experiments with smoking.
  • The addiction rate for smoking is higher than the addiction rates for marijuana, alcohol and cocaine.
  • More than a third of youth who try smoking cigarettes will become regular smokers before they leave high school.
  • Ninety percent of all adult smokers began smoking in their teens or earlier, and two-thirds became regular, daily smokers before they reached the age of 19.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are multiple reasons why youth smoke, including:
    • Low socio-economic status
    • Approval of smoking by peers or siblings
    • Smoking by parents or guardians
    • Accessibility, availability and price of tobacco products
    • A perception that tobacco use is “normal”
    • Lack of parental support or involvement
    • Low levels of academic achievement
    • Low self-image or self-esteem
    • Belief in benefits of smoking
    • Lack of skills to refuse offers of tobacco.
  • Peers have a strong influence. Youth may be influenced by their peers through direct verbal offers of cigarettes or pressure to engage in smoking. They may also be influenced by simply observing peers they admire.
  • Health consequences of smoking include nicotine stained teeth, bad breath, increased headaches, shortness of breath, increased phlegm production, gum disease, chronic coughing, bronchitis, increased susceptibility to the flu, faster resting heartbeat, impaired lung functioning, and many others.
  • According to the US Surgeon General’s Report for Kids, young people who start smoking are more likely to get lower grades in school and have a negative self image.