Cigarette smoking is one of the areas that have been of concern to the society for a long time now. Efforts are always being made to curb cigarettes smoking with emphasis being laid on the health concerns of smoking.
The advice seems to be falling on deaf ears as evidence from statistics continue to show high prevalence of people who smoke and are unable to quit the habit. What is causing even further worries is that the addiction is reported in the teenagers too, contrary to the common assumption that smoking addiction is evident in the adults.
Teenagers are also faced with similar issues that come with addiction as adults. Statistics indicate that among the 20-50% teenagers who are addicted to smoking attempt to quit but the success rates still remain relatively low with only a third fully quitting smoking.
Smoking addiction in adults has been attributed to starting smoking at the teenage years. A large number of teens are reported to be experimenting with smoking everyday marking their start of smoking with the numbers of those who start smoking daily across the world going up to over 80,000.
Male teenagers register higher numbers of those who smoke than their female counterparts. Due to the constant reminders that come with campaigns on the dangers of smoking, teens have been said to register high numbers of those who make efforts to quit than the adult smokers.
Smoking amongst the teenagers start gradually before elevating to addiction levels. Several reasons have been pointed out as influencing the teen’s decision to smoke. One of them is which is a common phenomenon is picking the habit from a close friend or friends who smoke. The company that the young people associate with form major influences to their behavior.
This is because young people are not fully developed to exactly discern what is considered bad by relying on the information they are given by the adults but rather depend on their follow peers to decide their course of behavior. Another reason driving teenagers to smoking is the curiosity to just try it.
Young people are at age where their form of learning is experiential and therefore easily tend to want to try something to get a feel of it, this way many teens have ended up being hooked on smoking. Teenagers are usually at the adolescent age where conformity and appeal to fellow peers is gauged on ones ability to be ‘cool’. Many teenagers have therefore resulted to smoking as they seek to derive the coolness from it only to end up with the habit.
The situation in the homes is not helping salvage the situation either. Many parents who smoke do so in front of their teenage kids prompting the children, who derive inspiration from the adult parents, to pick up the habit too. The fact that their parents do smoke gives them the impression that it is not a bad thing per say (Wang 10).
Another factor that has led to many teens picking up a habit of smoking is seen in the way the media has shifted its target to the youthful generation. Cigarette manufacturing companies have resulted to target teenagers when doing the marketing of the tobacco products.
Market research in the tobacco industries have led them to that all important discovery that most adults who are hooked on smoking started smoking when they were teenagers. This has driven them to engaging in rigorous marketing campaigns targeting the youths in their teens. Another discovery by the tobacco industry players that fueled their efforts is the realization that they were loosing a relatively big number of smokers by quitting and others to deaths related to smoking.
This has led them to stepping up their efforts in a bid to lure more people into using their product to compensate the numbers lost. Different brands are being manufactured with attention being placed on their youthful appeal since most people choose their loyal brand during their teenage years (Canadian Lung Association 6).
The tobacco companies have resulted to various tactics to lure the teens into smoking. The media has been the widely abused tool in their bid with movies stars being displayed when smoking hence appealing to the youths. Various tobacco companies have been known to go into the extent of paying huge amounts to have famous actors smoke their brand in the movie acts.
In TV advertisements, various companies have used cartoon figures that are well known to the teens hence relatively increasing their sales to the youth population.
Tobacco companies also introduce offers as promotional strategies with the samples being products that appeal to the teenagers and calling on them to smoke as many cigarette packets to qualify for the promotion offers. Companies have come up with ways to make the art of smoking appear to be cool. TV programs that are famous with teens, like The Simpsons, have shown most of the characters including the young smoking (Wang 10).
In the attempts to deal with the problem of smoking amongst teenagers, focus has been directed to fighting them from starting smoking. This has led to a major neglect on the issue of smoking addiction amongst the teenagers since addiction is mostly considered a problem associated with the adult population. The teenagers themselves do not consider addiction as a problem that can affect the youths, therefore when it becomes a reality it hits the by surprise.
This has also been attributed to the fact that most studies done have dealt with the addiction problem by explaining the chemical element which is nicotine, the psychoactive problem and the step by step process that one goes through to end up with an addiction problem. These elements have no inclination to concepts that can be understood by teens to deter them from smoking and eventually addiction.
Addiction problem is usually mentioned when we are considering the attempts to quit smoking. This is dominantly looked at as an adult issue thereby ignoring addiction amongst the teenagers. Some experts have offered advice that has hindered steeping up efforts to fight addiction amongst the teens arguing that making them aware that one can be permanently addicted to smoking might give them ideas to make lame excuses as to why they don’t want to quit smoking quoting that they are addicted.
Young people in addition still have unrealistic ideas concerning the problem of addiction despite being armed with the general information on the dangers of addiction. Teens sometimes like to refer to their condition as having reached addiction levels while the real pharmacological nicotine dependence has not taken place.
They therefore continue smoking and even increase the smoking frequency quoting the same reason following the knowledge that addiction is a possibility hence conditioning their minds to adjust accordingly. Teen smokers also pick up smoking and make it a habit while arguing that they will easily quit smoking with ease when they decide to. They downplay the seriousness of smoking addiction thinking it is just easy to drop smoking but eventually end up addicts.
Failure of the teenagers to believe in the concept of addiction amongst young people as a reality is highly attributed to the studies conducted and information available concerning addiction which fails to include the scope of teenage brackets making smoking addiction seem like an adult problem primarily.
The available statistics have shown reality on the ground as displaying the results that are totally different from the common misconceptions. Truth is that the issue of physical dependence on nicotine, otherwise known as smoking addiction, is a reality amongst the teenagers as it is in adults.
Despite the facts that adults addicts total up to twice those of teen addicts, the same dangers and problems associated with smoking, addiction and attempts to quit smoking are similar across both age brackets. Smoking is said to cause two dozens of illnesses with a majority of them leading to serious health problems. Smoking is the leading cause of cancer which among the top killer illnesses all over the world (Riordan 12).
As more and more teenagers start smoking, a substantial number of the smokers, totaling to three quarters, make attempts to quit smoking addiction but eventually fail.
This is a real morale killer for the young people since their hopes to stop the habit when they wish doesn’t occur leaving them with much regrets. In addition to having the sense of helplessness and regrets, the young people also experience the withdrawal effects that come with the attempts to quit smoking. Withdrawal symptoms include; irritability, loss of concentration, anxiousness, dizziness, hunger, insomnia among others.
The withdrawal symptoms persist for several weeks or even months. Most teens that make attempt experience these symptoms and have a hard time successfully going through that period during which they feel a strong urge to smoke. Most of them are unable to cope with the symptoms and end up falling back to smoking again.
The bid to come up with the right methods to fight addiction amongst the teens usually takes a keen understanding of the factors that lead to smoking first. These as noted earlier are mostly as a result of some sort of influence from an external source to fulfill some inner quest which may be caused by pressure to stay relevant. These causes basically can be classified broadly as resulting from the struggles that come with the teenagers going through the adolescent phase in life. During this time, the teens listen to their age mates more than they do to the adults.
This increases the probability to pick up smoking habit. Their physiological developmental phase also plays part in the habit elevating to addiction levels. At this stage in life they usually possess higher levels of emotional urges to take to something like smoking than they do possess the ability to resist and self control.
They therefore end up taking up to smoking and are unable to fight the habit and end up being addicted (Cyprus Mail International Daily 2).
Programs to fight addiction may therefore take the path of stopping the teens from taking up smoking habits in the first place. This includes designing programs that are conducted by experts, teachers or even parents. The contents are educating on the dangers of smoking while highlighting the diseases, the dependency, and death.
The statistics seeking to show recently collected facts can also be used to create a clear picture of how serious the issue is. Upon being armed with the knowledge, the teenagers will want to stay away from picking up the habit to escape the dangers. The education may also be coupled with a real interaction with cancer patents so as to create a real picture of the intensity and instill a sense of fear.
This is because young people easily comprehend by visual aspects as opposed to figuring the logic in theory aspects or the statistics. The fear effect may also be brought out in the sense of altering facts presented to the teens. Information offered to them maybe altered to read that addiction happens immediately one starts smoking. This way they will be deterred from starting (Hampton 3).
Apart from programs that seek to reverse picking up the smoking habit, it is important to appreciate the prevalence of addiction amongst the teenagers and therefore consider programs that specifically help those with addiction problem.
These include a step by step support program for guiding them through the quitting process and supporting them during the experiences with withdrawal symptoms. This way a problem that has been ignored for long will be solved by a great margin. Addiction may also be fought by tactics that seek to delay the time teens experiment with smoking.
This is based on known facts that most people who become addicts start smoking at early ages when the dangers of smoking are not easy to comprehend. Playing around with such programs that seek to prevent onset of smoking may prove helpful in teenagers not taking to smoking hence no addiction and in the long run saving lives that would have otherwise be lost from ailments related to smoking.
In conclusion, realizing that almost all cases of addiction are as a result of smoking from an early age may play a big role in preventing such cases. The onset of smoking habit has also been said to be an influencing factor to teens taking into abusing other drugs. This increases the chances of loosing a lot of lives and hence the need to delay the stage of experimenting with smoking.
Canadian Lung Association. Smoking & Tobacco, 28 Sept. 2006. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.
Cyprus Mail International Daily. Dangers of Smoking Must be Highlighted. 9 July. 2002. Web. 22 July 2002.
Hampton Scott. Prevention of Teenage Smoking in Local Area Schools. Developmental Psychology, 12 Sept. 2006. Web. 26 Nov. 2010.
Riordan Meg. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 14 Dec. 2009. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.
Wang Chunhong, Henley Nathan and Donovan Robert. Exploring Children’s Conceptions of Smoking Addiction. Health Education Research. 1 March. 2004. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.