How Smoking Impacts the Health of Young People

How smoking impacts the health of young people.
Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. After it is picked, it is dried, ground up, and used in different ways. It can be smoked in a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It can be chewed (called chewing tobacco) or sniffed through the nose (called snuff). Nicotine is one of the more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes and its smoke. It is the chemical that makes tobacco addictive or habit forming. Smoking can become a life-long habit and it can be worrying for parents to think that their child might decide to smoke and become a dependant smoker. Research indicates that initiation into smoking behaviour is well established before the end of teenage years. Surveys of smokers show that approximately 90-per-cent begin using tobacco by the age of 20. The earlier the onset of smoking, the earlier the risk of smoking-related disease and the harder it is to quit.
Many young people today have an “invincibility complex,” or the idea that they cannot be hurt by their actions. As a result many are blind to the smoking effects that could cause lifetime damage to their bodies. While they may know the harmful smoking effects, this does not stop the rise in young people smoking. It is a sad but true fact that youth and smoking is a crisis that needs to be dealt with.
The number one reason that many young people start smoking regardless of the smoking effects on their health is peer pressure. Someone they respect or wish to emulate gives them a chance to start smoking, and tells them they will be fine. The young people do not want to appear “uncool” and so they start smoking. Another reason that kids take to smoking is because of the advertising of the cigarette manufacturers. Cigarette ads are aimed at the young, making smoking look like the cool, popular thing to do. Things emphasised by cigarette ads are young adults who have a strong sex appeal, or things that appeal to young guys, like weapons and cowboys. Young people are given the idea that smoking makes you sexy, strong, and invincible.
Sometimes young people take up smoking because they want to look mature. After all, smoking is considered an “adult” behaviour, and they think they will look cool when they smoke, or that they will look more grown up. Finally, many young people take up smoking because they want to rebel against their authorities. No matter what the activity, if you tell kids they cannot or should not do something, some will want to do it simply just to go against their authority.
The differences between subjective feelings of those who smoke and those who don??™t are shown in behavioural changes that are more apparent in young people. Young people seem to be more abrasive when smoking or they feel like they are older and wiser when they smoke. We see a lot of smokers giving each other rewards in social aspects such as conversations, companionships, and other common social contacts. Research has proven the fact that nicotine has the ability to suppress feelings, suppress appetite for food, is used as stimulation after sex, and is a good way to relax from troubles and feelings of insecurities.
Young people like to act as if they are someone special or dangerous. By smoking they can act on those feelings. Because it is so forbidden it becomes more alluring to them. The problem is that when they take that first puff, they can become addicted. The idea that they are breaking the law or going against their parents and schools is an addiction within itself. Young people like to get attention; it does not matter if it??™s good attention or bad attention. They crave attention and by smoking they get this attention. The other teens look at them in all kinds of ways and the adults get upset and don??™t know what to do.
Smoking is also an emotional addiction. As young people become more addicted to smoking, the emotional effects become more pronounced. The small amount of caffeine in cigarettes (from the nicotine) causes an energy rush that may lead to increased speed of talking and elevated mood. Smoking may make you feel euphoric and relaxed. This is a function of the chemical effect of nicotine in cigarettes. Smoking may also be used as an emotional crutch in unpleasant times. Due to the buildup of the habit, smokers become emotionally dependent and may start to smoke when they are sad, scared or unhappy.
Mass media campaigns are one of the most effective means to reduce smoking, according to anti-smoking organisations. Evaluation of Australias National Tobacco Campaign??™s famous Every cigarette is doing you damage ad (first released in 1999) shows that after the first six months of the mass media campaign smoking rates in Australia dropped by 1.4 per cent, representing 190,000 fewer smokers. An essential element of the campaign strategy was to provide information on reliable and effective aids and support programs for people wanting to stop smoking. The percentage of daily smokers in the population decreased by 3 percent in the 16-19 years age group.
Reflecting patterns reported that smoking among secondary students declined during the 1980s but stalled during the first half of the 1990s. Between 1996 and 2005 a significant fall in smoking was seen in all age groups and the rates recorded for 2005 are the lowest since the survey series began in 1984??”see Graph over the page.Prevalence of Australian secondary school students who reported smoking, Australia 1984??“2005 – 12??“15 year olds and 16 and 17 year olds.
Source: White and Hayman 2006
It can be seen from the graph that the return to a downward trend in smoking among teenagers coincides with the launch of this nationally coordinated National Tobacco Campaign. Although not specifically targeted at children, there is evidence that teenagers were well aware of the campaign, and that the programs success in reducing adult smoking rates appears also to have had the unintended but welcome effect of reducing smoking in younger age groups as well. Other tobacco control activities over the same period, for example increased tobacco taxes, have contributed to the decline of young people smoking. The Government has increased taxes considerably over the last 20 years in order to combat the problem of young people smoking.
In addition, these graphic advertisements (see pictures below) were designed to elicit an instinctive reaction in smokers. The use of new information and graphic images aimed to evoke reactions that led to changes in peoples recall of the information and response in taking action to quit. Young people watching this campaign are able to see first-hand on what smoking can do to their bodies. By seeing the images rather than imagining them they can make a more clear decision on whether to start smoking or not. Rather than stating the effects of smoking in a way that says they are probable or there is a certain risk, this media release shows the graphic, real portrayals of the actual effects on the organs. They are reminders to smokers to put quitting on their today agenda rather than putting it off. Disability, disfigurement and early death due to smoking are real and cannot be ignored. The graphic campaigns aim to evoke an emotional response in smokers strong enough to help them quit.
While young people are generally aware that tobacco smoking is harmful, many still underestimate the extent of the danger relative to other lifestyle risks. Very few young smokers are able to accurately estimate their chances of dying in middle age. Most are able to name only a handful of the numerous diseases caused by smoking. Smokers also have little understanding of how tobacco-related illnesses could affect the quality of their lives. For example, research shows that fewer than one in ten smokers are able to identify smoking as a cause of stroke.
Studies also reveal that a large number of 18-year-old individuals exposed to anti-smoking ads and quit smoking ads did realise the dangers of smoking but it did little to prevent them from buying cigarettes because of the fact that other advertisements on smoking had produced a positive thought about smoking. This is attributed to the fact that teenagers are less receptive to information about health dangers than they are about the general psychological notion of smoking that??™s promoted by tobacco advertisements.
Earliest Quit Smoking ads focused on health issues such as lung cancer, effects of passive smoking etc. However, nowadays, Quit Smoking ads focus on issues such as erectile dysfunction and loss of attractiveness. A recently released Quit Smoking ad shows a 58-year old woman suffering from Buerger??™s disease as a result of smoking.Health promotion initiatives are a series of actions and approaches aimed at increasing awareness about current health issues. They involve social marketing to increase awareness and develop personal skills. Quitline is an advertising campaign to help people who want to quit smoking. It also involves strategies to create supportive environments such as legislation to prevent smoking in public places, resulting in reduced exposure to passive smoking.
The National Tobacco Youth Campaign (supported by Quitline) was undertaken during 2006-2007 and aimed to contribute to a reduction in the uptake of smoking among young Australians. The key message aimed to encourage the primary target audience (young people aged 12-24 years) ???to reject smoking??™ and the secondary target audience (smoker parents) ???to quit smoking in order to discourage your children from smoking??™.
The campaign was very successful and it made young people aware of the dangers of smoking and helped them make positive choices whether to continue to smoke or not. Overall, results demonstrated that the National Tobacco Youth Campaign reached the vast majority of smokers in the target group, as well as under-age smokers, and making them feel uncomfortable about their smoking and therefore consider quitting.
There are also many other ways in order to prevent young people from taking up smoking. The Government has implemented a lot of programs and laws to help people combat and quit smoking.
New laws commenced in phases between 1 January 2005 and 1 July 2007 and include:
? no-smoking anywhere inside pubs, clubs, restaurants and workplaces
? no-smoking in commercial outdoor eating or drinking areas
? no-smoking in outdoor public places such as patrolled beaches, children??™s playground equipment, major sport stadiums and within 4 metres of non-residential building entrances
? no sales of tobacco products to children under 18 years of age
? mandatory training of employees who sell tobacco
? mandatory no-smoking and quit smoking signs
? restrictions on how tobacco products can be displayed at retail outlets
? no tobacco advertising or competitions
? tobacco vending machines must be located in bar or poker machine areas only
? television commercials show dangers related with smoking in graphic details
and more recently
? plain packaging on cigarette packets to avoid colourful eye-catching packetsIn conclusion, in the earlier years, tobacco advertising encouraged people to smoke. Today the government has forced the makers of cigarettes to advertise diseases caused by tobacco on the packets, on billboards and website/quit organisations. In Australia, regular cigarette smoking causes many more deaths every year than alcohol, heroin and all other drugs put together. Most adult smokers begin smoking in their teenage years, and most wish they could quit. Young people often don??™t realise how quickly a person can become ???hooked??™ on smoking. Talking with them can help them gain confidence in their ability to make healthy, independent choices. Although adults often say they feel ignored by teenagers, teenagers report that advice from adults about cigarettes is very helpful.Bibliography:
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20 April 2011
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