The number of teen smokers in the modern day is shockingly high. The Cancer Research website shows 19% of teenagers, aged between 16 and 19 smoke, with the percentage of boys higher than girls, as 20% of boys smoke in the UK while only 17% of girls smoke. Many people find this rising number worrying and sometimes confusing. We all know the health risk associated with smoking, and a student at Guildford County School said “Smoking is a rank and a disgusting habit.” Another student said “I see no benefits and don’t see why people even consider starting.”
Statistics quoted by Teen FAQ show that children whose parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke as children of non-smokers. In our survey, one student smoker said “I took my Mum’s [cigarettes] without her knowing.” Some of these under-aged smokers admitted stealing cigarettes from their parents, whereas another young smoker said “My friend, who’s legally able to buy cigarettes, gets them for me.”
Tobacco is the only legally available consumer product that kills people when it’s used normally. It kills millions of people every year, yet it is still legal. Despite young people under the age of 18 not being able to buy this product, our research shows that 80% of smokers begin before the age of 18.
In an interview with a teen smoker, we found that there are often unseen reasons and influences that make them smoke. The opinion that they do it ‘just to look cool’ is often inaccurate as we found out talking to a couple of young smokers. For example, when asked what influenced her to smoke a young smoker said “I thought it would be a good way to release all my stress and pain”. We also found that many young smokers don’t regret their decision to start smoking as one interviewee said “It gives me time alone”.
Many people assume that people start smoking as a social action, to look cool, not to be left out or because it looked fun. But in our interviews we found that often they start smoking due to deeper, underlying problems in their home or school life. One smoker said “I tried to stop but my Mum made it too hard for me [by stressing me out],” this shows that often there is more to a person than their cigarettes. Teen smoking is becoming a growing problem around the UK and our research would suggest that more could be done to help those people who may also have problems at home and at school. The next time you see a teenager smoking, stop and think before you automatically judge them.