Tobacco Use Among Teenagers
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in America and usually begins during the adolescent years. During this time it is important to discuss some of the dangers of tobacco to make sure they don’t begin smoking cigarettes or other tobacco related products.
What is the prevalence of use?
It is estimated that almost 25% of high school students and 8% of middle school students have tried some type of tobacco. The products they have used include cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco. Even though the use of traditional cigarettes has declined among U.S. adolescents, the use of e-cigarettes and hookah has increase according to the CDC.
What factors increase the risk of tobacco use?
- Studies have shown that teens are more likely to use tobacco products if they have parents, siblings or friends using tobacco.
- Easy access to tobacco products.
- They watch movies or shows that feature prominent characters smoking.
- They are exposed to tobacco advertisements.
- Advent of e-cigarettes and flavored products appeal to a younger demographic.
How is tobacco use harmful?
- Increases the risk of asthma, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
- Higher risk of oral conditions:
- Gum disease, bad breath (halitosis), stained or darkened teeth, or even tooth loss.
- It increases the risk of oral cancer, which is the 6th most common form of cancer. Over a half million people are estimated to have oral and oropharyngeal cancer each year. Approximately 150,000 are expected to die each year from this type of cancer.
Tip for talking to teens about the harms for tobacco use:
- Try to create an environment in which you can talk openly.
- Explain how tobacco products can be harmful to overall and oral health.
- Talk about a plan that could help them say no to peer pressure.
- It is also important to establish rules so your teens understand tobacco use will not be tolerated, and follow those rules.
- Important for adults to avoid using tobacco to help set a positive example.
- The only bad way to talk to your kids about tobacco is to not talk about it at all.