Teens and tobacco

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Guess what? Not everyone your age is smoking! In fact, 8 out of 10 teens don't smoke.

It's a myth that "everyone is smoking." They're not. And teens don't smoke for very good reasons. Smoking makes your face and fingers yellow and leathery, your hair, clothes and breath smell bad, and your teeth yellow.

Cigarettes are super-addictive

All forms of tobacco (including cigarettes, pipes, cigars and smokeless tobacco) contain a drug called nicotine. Most e-cigarettes have nicotine too. Eventually, nicotine changes your brain chemistry so your brain won't function normally without it. Here are some other facts about tobacco:

  • Cigarettes make you weak by starving your body of oxygen. Smoking coats your lungs with tar and kills the air sacs.
  • Cigarettes contain 4,000 chemicals, like arsenic (in rat poison), acetone (in nail polish remover), and formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies).
  • Even cigarettes called "natural" or "additive free" contain the chemicals that are found in tobacco. Cigars, cloves, and bidis do the same things to your body as cigarettes — or worse.
  • Smoking kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States.

The consequences of smoking don't stop there. It could affect other areas of your life, from relationships to finances.

Why do you smoke?

Ask yourself if you smoke because you want to, or to fit in. Smoking is not the only way to hang out with friends. In fact, in many states you can't smoke at all when you're at the movies, eating out, or in the mall.

It seems like you see pictures of people smoking, everywhere you look. But don't let the tobacco companies trick you. They will say anything to get you addicted to nicotine. TV, movies, and magazines are all trying to sell you on cigarettes, too. They try to make smoking look sexy, beautiful, and powerful. But what they show you isn't real. The people in ads all have white teeth and clear skin.

Real smokers don't look like that. Ask yourself if you really want to support Big Tobacco with your money.

Reasons to quit

After quitting, you will notice changes right away. For starters, you will:

  • smell better
  • feel better
  • look better
  • notice that food tastes better
  • get fewer colds
  • save money
  • have more energy

Maybe the best reason to quit is that you're likely to live longer. If you start smoking in your teens (as 90 percent of smokers do) and keep smoking for 2 decades or more, it's likely that you'll die 20 to 25 years sooner than those who never smoked.

Save cash

Smoking costs a lot of money. If you smoke a pack a day, you're spending about $200 per month. In a year, you could save $2,400 if you quit. Think about what else you could do with that money:

  • buy a computer, tablet and smartphone and tons of apps
  • get season tickets to your local sports team
  • see a movie every day
  • join a gym
  • buy a mountain bike
  • take a trip
  • save for a car

What could you do with $2,400?

Quitting is a challenge. Are you up for it?

You can do it! People who want to quit smoking really can quit. Half of all people who have ever smoked do not smoke now. Quitting can be hard for people who are addicted, especially if they've been smoking for a long time. It's easier to quit now, while you're still young.

If you smoke, we can help. Visit our quit smoking center to get started now.

Reviewed by: Robert Riewerts, MD, 2018

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