What Causes It
What Causes It
It is now a well-known fact that smoking causes a wide variety of deadly diseases and as such, is dangerous for the body. However, even with this knowledge, a lot of people still takes up or continue smoking. Most of them get addicted to it through prolonged exposure and thus, find it hard to stop. What is disheartening is that a vast number of teenagers have also picked up on the addiction. There are now teenagers who are experts in smoking cigarettes, without any regard for the effect that may have on their health. There are many reasons as to why a teenager may start smoking but in this paper, we will only examine three major causes of teenage smoking. These causes are experimentation, exposure to parents who are smokers, poor enforcement of policies regarding smoking, and exposure to mass media that have smokers in it.
It is imperative that we learn the causes of teenage smoking because it may help us determine ways to prevent or cease teenage smoking addiction. The focus in the topic of smoking addiction prevention is on teenagers because this is the time wherein most people start smoking. If we could identify the problem at this point, we may as well identify the solution to even adult smoking addiction. It is in this regard that this paper focuses on the social issue of teenage smoking.
The first cause of teenage smoking listed in this paper deals with the correlation of teenage rebellion as well as adolescent curiosity, and smoking. According to the General Accounting Office of the United States (1989), some teenagers take up smoking as a way to experiment. Adolescence is usually the period in which people feel like they have to prove something. Peer pressure, in a way, causes this reaction in teenagers. In a bid to be ‘cool,’ teenagers tend to do things that are known to be restricted or things that are allowed only for adults. This is because they can brag that they have done something that others are too ‘scared’ to do. Ironically, this usually earns them the respect of their peers. Also, teenage rebellion causes these people to want to do things that are considered to be undesirable or even illegal. It is in accordance with the teenage mentality that anything forbidden is good. In fact, according to the same book by the General Accounting Office, around 13 million teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 years old use illegal or harmful vices such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Among that number, about 3.5 million use tobacco products.
Another reason to why teenagers start smoking is because the environment they are in condones such behavior. In most cases, these teenagers are from families whose parents are smokers themselves. Because they are exposed to their parents smoking early on, they get a sense of normalcy in the act which means that they think that it is normal to smoke because they see that their parents smoke also (Wakefield et al. 2000).
Leniency in the rules regarding smoking is also one of the causes of teenage smoking. These rules are includes rules in individual houses as well as in the local and national level. As mentioned above, teenagers who think it is okay to smoke is most likely to be smokers later on. But why do they think it is okay? This is probably because their parents do not enforce rules on who can smoke or not, or where one can smoke. Rules in school that are not strict when it comes to smoking can also trigger teenage smoking in that teenagers may think it is okay to smoke because they would not have to face certain consequences anyway. This is particularly true for school that bans smoking but turns a blind eye to students who do so. The same is true for the wider range of local and national rules. If the teenager can get away with just a warning, why would he or she be scared to smoke again?
The last cause of teenage smoking that is discussed in this paper banks on the power of mass media on the consciousness of people. Teenagers are vulnerable to suggestive hints on mass media. They are the ones who are most likely going to believe whatever it is that they see on TV or in the internet. Teenagers are also prone to idolizing performers, including actors. As such, it is important to analyze the image of smoking and smokers that mass media shows. According to Todd Heatherton and James Sargent (2009), about 20 to 25 percent of characters in movies are smokers. In most cases, it is rare that the negative effect of smoking is highlighted in such movies. We also have to look at the social class from where characters in the movie who are smokers come from. According to Heatherton and Sargent, such characters are usually wealthier than the typical smoker in the U.S. reality context. All those evidences offer a perception that to smoke is to fit in. Those movies are used by teenagers to justify their smoking addiction.
In the end, the only way to prevent teenage smoking is to take note of what causes it. In this paper, we learned that firm rules and also guided supervision may well be the possible ways to prevent teenage smoking. But until then, it would be best to study the causes of teenage smoking more.
United States General Accounting Office 1989, Teenage smoking : higher excise tax should
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Wakefield, Melanie A., Chaloupka, Frank J., Kaufman, Nancy J., Orleans, C. Tracy, Barker,
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Heatherton, Todd F. & Sargent, James D. 2009. ‘Does Watching Smoking in Movies Promote
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