Health Effects of Tobacco
Know the Truth
Because a child's body is still growing, teens and youth are vulnerable to its deadly effects. Smoking by children and adolescents hastens the onset of lung function decline during late adolescence and early adulthood and is related to impaired lung growth, chronic coughing, and wheezing.
Nicotine is not only highly addictive for youth, it's poisonous - it can be used as a pesticide on crops, and a drop of pure nicotine would kill a person. Every day, another 1,500 kids become daily smokers, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result of getting hooked. Even youth who don't smoke very often can suffer the adverse effects of addiction
Tobacco can affect youth activities and athletic performance. Tobacco narrows blood vessels and puts a strain on the heart, it also leads to lack of oxygen and shortness of breath. Smokers run slower and can't run as far as nonsmokers.
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death syndrome. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases, and children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop ear infections, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma. Older children whose parents smoke get sick more often.
Learn more about Youth & Tobacco and Youth Tobacco Prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Troubling Health Facts about Smoking and Teens
- Girls who smoke are more likely to grow excess facial hair.
- Smoking as few as 5 cigarettes a day can reduce teens' lung function growth, with teenage girls being especially vulnerable.
- 40% of teenagers who smoke daily have tried to quit and failed.
- About 2/3 of teen smokers say they want to quit smoking, and 70% say they would not have started if they could choose again.
- 44% of teens say they didn't know bidi cigarettes could lead to cancer. Find out about bidis
- One bidi cigarette produces 3 times as much nicotine and carbon monoxide as a regular cigarette and 5 times as much tar.
- Teens who smoke produce twice as much phlegm as teens who don't.
- Teens who smoke break out more.
- Zits last longer for teens who smoke.
- Kids who smoke 2 or 3 cigarettes a day can get hooked in as short as two weeks.
- Teens who smoke are more likely to catch a cold than people who don't - and their symptoms will probably be worse and last longer.
- Teenagers who smoke use more medications than those who do not smoke.
- Teenagers who smoke have significantly more trouble sleeping than those who do not smoke.
- 1 out of every 3 young people who become regular smokers will die of a smoking related disease.
- If current smoking patterns in the United States persist, approximately 5 million of today's children will die prematurely of tobacco-related diseases. Read about Preventing Chronic Diseases and Tobacco Use from the CDC.
- Most people start using tobacco before they finish high school. This means that if you stay smoke-free in school, you will probably never smoke.
For more information about the health effects of tobacco on youth, visit Tobacco Free Kids.
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