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Smoking and Teenagers: Still Popular?

Teens And Smoking: How Many Teenagers Smoke?

I recently read an article in the New York Times that stated: “Everyday 3,500 teens light their first cigarette.” With so many restrictions on where you can smoke these days (many restaurants and places of business have banned cigarette smoking), the expense and the well advertised consequences to your health, I was surprised to read that so many teens would even bother to smoke.

I do find fewer and fewer adults I know smoke cigarettes today. But what are you finding among your friends and the people around you, either at work or school—is cigarette smoking popular and why?

I don’t get it either. We’re all much more health conscious. You kids seem to exercise and watch what you eat more than I ever did.

Also, it’s a smelly, dirty habit. Your clothes stink. Your hair stinks. On top of that, you just can’t breath when you’re in a closed room with smokers.

I want to know also. What’s the deal with teens and smoking?

From my experience a lot more kids smoke when they get to college then when they are in high school. I mean there was a small amount of kids that smoked in high school. But usually their parents also smoked and we would barely see them smoking because you weren’t allowed to on school property. But it definitely happened; I have a clear image in my head of the high school girl’s bathroom and the fact that sitting on a toilet was never an option due to all the cigarette ashes on the seat.

Kids start in college because they are free from their parents and therefore there will be no consequences, besides shortening your lifespan. All the small smoking groups from all the high schools all over the country are now thrown together on one campus and the groups are suddenly large and everywhere. Also, college is a time for the “I only smoke when I am drinking” smokers to appear. I was surprised to see who from my high school ended up picking up the habit. After all, a lot of them were so against it in our younger years.

Overall, I think smoking is less of a big thing then it was in the past. But hey, kids will be kids, and we are in no way immune to the pressures of life. Personally, I have never touched a cigarette despite a boyfriend who has been trying to kick the habit for almost three years now and my strange attraction to the smell of cigarette smoke.

In my first few weeks of high school, I haven’t seen many teen smokers. I’ve seen one or two on my way to school in the morning, but that’s it. Now, is that because it’s early in the school year? Or is it because smoking isn’t that popular among the teens of my high school? Honestly, I think it’s both. Yes, it is early in the school year so there really hasn’t been much time for me to see that many kids smoking on their way to school. However, I also think it is because not many kids smoke anymore, at least not high school kids.

Many kids play a sport in high school and the vast majority of high school athletes who take their sport seriously don’t smoke because they know it will ruin their bodies for the sports they play.

Usually smokers aren’t the best kids. The kids that I’ve seen smoke or the ones I’ve heard smoke, are not the best students. School is not a high priority for them. I think that kids these days have a better sense of what is good and bad, right and wrong, and smart or stupid. Smoking is seen as bad, wrong, and stupid to most people. So why would you do it? I think that is the outlook of a lot of high school students, the ones who don’t smoke at least. I think smoking among high school students is becoming less common, because high school kids are becoming more intelligent.

At my college, a decent proportion of kids are smoking. I became aware of this at orientation. The head of student life asked how many smokers there were for dorm selection. Many hands shot up. Then they all went outside to smoke. I was pretty surprised, and I wondered why so many kids were smoking. The best answer I could come up with was that some people are born with addictive personalities. They are more prone to forming addictions, and after trying those first few ‘cool’ cigarettes, they were hooked. Some from the age of sixteen, some from the age of twelve and for only a few bucks at a time.

It’s amazing how easy it is for one to destroy their life and there’s no limit to how early or how cheaply it can begin.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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