Tobacco smoking among the youth, mostly adolescents in the United States, has become very prevalent. According to studies conducted by the CDC, if cigarette smoking carries on among adolescents at the rate it is currently at, 5.6 million Americans who are younger than eighteen will die from smoking-related sicknesses (CDC, 2022). Research shows that the use of tobacco-based products starts and establishes mainly during adolescence. Around nine out of ten adults have their first smoking trial by the time they are eighteen, and approximately 99% begin by the age of twenty-six. Calculations show that about 1600 youth use their first cigarette every day in the U.S., and close to 200 youth start smoking daily (CDC,2022).
One could attribute adolescent smokers’ rise to flavoured cigarettes’ invention. The flavours make them more appealing to the young ones. According to research conducted in 2021, 74.6% of middle school students and 80.2% of high school students who had taken product products within the past month reported using flavoured products. Around 85.8% of high-school students and 79.2% of middle school pupils reportedly used flavoured e-cigarettes (CDC,2022). However, during the pandemic (2019-2020), the use of tobacco products, e-cigarettes, multiple tobacco products, smokeless tobacco, cigars and combustible tobacco products among high and middle school students decreased. This decrease led to an estimate of 1.73 million lesser youth tobacco product users in 2020 compared to 2019.
Adolescent smoking is linked with ethnicity, age, parental socioeconomic status, parental attitudes, parental smoking, family environment, peer smoking, risk behaviours, school factors, depression, stress, health concerns and self-esteem issues (Tyas &Pederson, 2022). According to research, youth/ adolescents who use various tobacco-based products are more likely to develop nicotine dependence and are more likely to continue smoking into their adult lives.
The social and physical environments these young adults are exposed to could also influence them to use tobacco-based products. For instance, the mass media showcases the use of tobacco products as a cool and fun trait. This could make them want to try. Moreover, adolescents are more likely to try something if they observe the people around them, especially their age mates using them. Some genetic and biological factors could cause teens to smoke. Evidence shows that adolescents may be nicotine-sensitive and feel a nicotine dependency faster than adults (CDC, 2022). Moreover, if a pregnant mother smokes, the chances that the child will smoke cigarettes in the future increase.
There are various ways to help reduce cigarette smoking among adolescents in the U.S. As mentioned before, family plays a substantial role in their kids’ lives. If the parent is a smoker, then the chances of the child smoking in their teen years are higher. As such, to help prevent this, families should be educated on this and on changing their family dynamics to help keep their young ones from smoking (United States Public Health Service, 2012). There are other ecologically based efforts to reduce access to tobacco by the youths, such as increasing tobacco taxes, reducing images of smoking in films and other mass media and implementing clean indoor air policies. Most of these preventive efforts utilize the public health language of targeting protective and risk factors. These, at times, are bolstered by ecological, educational and sociological theories.
Smoking among adolescents is cancer that needs to be plucked out of society. The inconsistencies in relationships between adolescent disposable income and parental socioeconomic status must be resolved. Future research on the topic has to be theory-driven and should consider the variety of possible factors influencing smoking.
CDC. (2022, March 10). Youth and tobacco use. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm
Tyas, S. L., & Pederson, l. L. (2022). Psychosocial factors related to adolescent smoking: a critical review of the literature. Tobacco Control – An international peer-reviewed journal from BMJ. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/7/4/409
The United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General. (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the surgeon general. U.S. Government Printing Office.