11 Sobering Facts About Teenage Smoking

Are you looking for some facts about teenage smoking to help demonstrate how harmful it can be, or how addictive it can be, or many of the other negative effects of youth smoking?

It’s a problem all around the world, especially since children and teens who smoke don’t really have the life-experience to fully understand the consequences. If an adult offers cigarettes to a teenager, does the teen really have the ability to know what can happen if they start smoking?

These days, most people are aware of the problems with smoking, and the many dangers and harms, so you may find yourself wondering, why do teenagers smoke? It can be hard to make sense of it, but it’s something that happens generation after generation, even tho we’re way past the days when the dangers of cigarettes weren’t very widely known or understood.

Here Are Some Concerning Facts About Teenage Smoking and Tobacco/Nicotine Use

11. They’re Marketed Towards Kids and Teens

Roughly 4 out of 5 high school students who used tobacco products during a 30 day period reported that it was flavored products they used. These flavors are often based off of candies, fruit flavors, and other flavors that appeal to kids. The numbers are even higher for e-cigarettes.

These products might not necessarily be marketed directly towards children, but the companies that make these products are well-aware of who their customers are.

10. Teen Smokers Are Going Digital

E-Cigarettes and vaping account for a lot of the tobacco usage in teenagers, in fact it’s represented a majority of the tobacco-product usage among high school students ever since 2014.

Vaping or using e-cigs has become a lot more popular among teenage tobacco users because they’re a lot more discreet than cigarettes, they won’t leave someone reeking of smoke, and some teens will order them online. This creates a challenge for anyone wanting to curb teenage tobacco rates. Cigarette use was declining, but this new category has been like an opening of the flood gates.

9. Many Teens Turn To Smoking To Cope With Life

According to the CDC, “When young people expect positive things from smoking, such as coping with stress better or losing weight, they are more likely to smoke.” This suggest that teens turn to smoking and tobacco products to deal with common challenges in life, or more difficult and traumatic events they may be dealing with.

A bit of momentary relief or distraction that someone feels from a cigarette can be a big motivator to get them smoking, and to keep them smoking, and after the tipping point – even if everything in their life is great – the habit is formed, and the addiction is set, and it’ll be really difficult to stop.

Furthermore, when they’re faced with challenged later on, they may revert back to smoking since that’s been their coping method thus far. Teens can learn better coping skills, but it helps if they have someone to guide them and introduce them to this.

8. There Are Ways To Reduce Teen Smoking

Here are some of the changes that have been shown to contribute to a decrease in the number of teenagers who smoke.

  • Higher prices for tobacco products
  • Raising the minimum age at which someone can purchase tobacco products
  • Policies at schools that discourage smoking and making it less convenient for students to smoke
  • Banning smoking in indoor spaces or other areas where people congregate
  • Banning advertisements for tobacco products including product placements

There are other ways, too, but it’s also important to have programs in place to help teens quit smoking once they’ve already started. Many teens will keep their smoking hidden for longer, instead of reaching out for help, because they’re either ashamed about smoking, or they’re worried about getting grounded or other punishments from their parents, or disappointing their parents.

Parents can set household rules (see also: Should You Have Rules for 18 Year Old Living at Home?) about smoking, but many teens will just smoke outside the home.

7. Parents Play a Big Role in Teenage Smoking

Parents Play a Big Role in Teenage Smoking

A teenager who has grown up around parents who smoke and has seen this as a normal part of life might not have as much hesitation when a peer offers them a cigarette. On the other hand, more parental involvement in their teenager’s life can reduce the likelihood of a teen smoking.

What we can take away from these two facts about teen smoking is that the parents play a role in either inadvertently encouraging their teens to smoke, or an active role in being close to their kids which can lead to lower rates of smoking.

6. Smoking Has Ties to Teenage Mental Health

The CDC has concluded that “there is a strong relationship between youth smoking and depression, anxiety, and stress,” which reflects what we mentioned earlier about teens using cigarettes and tobacco as a coping mechanism.

This doesn’t mean that everyone who is depressed or anxious is going to take up smoking, or that everyone who smokes is giong to be depressed, but there has been some cross-over that’s been observed in studies.

An anxious teen might discover smoking and use it as a way to relax themselves, or a teen who doesn’t feel great about themselves might not be as conscious about their health or well-being and may not be mindful of the harm that smoking can cause themselves.

5. Most People First Use Tobacco Before High School Graduation

Most people’s first use of tobacco products like cigarettes occurs before graduating high school. In other words, if someone makes it through high school without ever smoking cigarettes, they’re less likely to start smoking at some other point in their life.

As such, we should probably look at taking as many steps as we reasonably can that will deter teenagers and high school students from smoking. If we can get them through high school before they reach out and start using tobacco products, they’re less likely to take it up later on.

Also, this really shows how tobacco companies (who surely do a lot of research to understand their customers) are aware that if they want to find themselves a new life-long customer and consumer of their products, they need to try to do that while people are still in school, before they graduate.

4. Hookah Smoke Isn’t Any Better

Hookah lounges, or something at a party with a hookah, is another way that teens will consume tobacco. Even though it’s filtered through water, hookah smoke is still very toxic, and filled with even higher concentrations of harmful chemicals than are seen in cigarette smoke.

There is some debate about whether vaping is better than smoking cigarettes or not, and the general idea at this point in time seems to be that the vape liquid might not be as bad as actually smoking tobacco because tobacco has a ton of chemicals added to it and just the act of smoking is hard on the lungs.

On the other hand, just because there isn’t as much research about vaping yet to demonstrate potential harms, that doesn’t mean it’s totally safe, either. At this point in time, we know that cigar and hookah smoke is among the hardest, cigarette smoke is also terrible for us, and vaping has its own set of concerns and issues to be mindful of. There’s no “free pass” when it comes to tobacco, smoking, and nicotine products.

3. In America, Over A Million Packs of Cigarettes Are Purchased for Minors Each Year

It’s believed that approximately 1.5 million packs of cigarettes are purchased for minors each year (via statisticbrain). The actual number could be a lot higher, when you think about how often a smoker usually goes through a pack, and how many teenagers and underage people are taking up the habit of smoking.

On the other hand, as more teens turn to e-cigarettes and vaping, it’s also possible that the amount of cigarettes purchases for minors is declining.

2. Nonsmokers Live 13-14 Years Longer Than Smokers

teenage smoking life

Since most smokers start in their teenager years, and around a third of them will keep smoking, and smokers have much shorter life expectancy, then being a teenager smoker is a really strong indicator that you’ll end up doing serious harm to yourself over the court of your life, ultimately resulting in losing over a decade of time on this planet.

13 or 14 years is a very long time, especially since smoking can make your final years a lot more painful and difficult, and even some of your prime years, if you find yourself short on breath and not able to enjoy things as well as you could if you were a nonsmoker in better health.

1. Almost a Third of Teenage Smokers Will Keep Smoking, And Have Their Lives End Prematurely Due To Smoking

A lot of teenage smokers will quit within a fairly short amount of time, or during their teens and early 20s. The ones who aren’t able to quit, or don’t want to quit yet, may carry this habit on for the rest of their lives…

And the rest of their lives, in many cases, almost a third, will be cut short prematurely due to the smoking habit they picked up in their teenage years.

Final Thoughts on Facts About Teenage Smoking

These facts about teen smoking aren’t easy to accept, especially if a teenager you care about has taken up this habit.

The good news is that many teens manage to give up cigarettes and quit smoking before they develop too strong of a habit to quit. However, some people won’t be able to quit no matter what they seem to try, so in those cases, it’s best if they never end up trying cigarettes in the first place so they can just avoid it altogether.

The facts about teenage smoking can be scary, and alarming – and that’s because teen smoking is a serious issue and that has serious consequences.

What’s next: Is smoking a problem for you? Consider quitting as a New Years resolution for teens.

Mat Woods

Author Information

Mat Woods is the lead writer at TeenWire.org. He works tirelessly alongside the rest of the team to create useful, well-researched, trustworthy articles to help parents and their teens.