Teenage cigarette smoking is extremely prevalent throughout the United States. The government should place stricter regulations on teenage smokers to prevent them from becoming adult smokers. According to the American Lung Association, tobacco is the only legal product that causes death and disability when used as intended. Each day, 3,000 children smoke their first cigarette, and they will eventually contribute to the 3.1 million adolescents who are current smokers. These staggering numbers must be reduced to prevent the more than 450,000 people who die each year from tobacco related illnesses. This is as many Americans that have been killed in all the wars fought in this century (American Lung Association).

Health Facts

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco related illnesses are the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Tobacco kills more people than alcohol, cocaine, crack, heroin, homicide, suicide, traffic accidents, fires and AIDS combined. Smoking is responsible for an estimated one in five United States deaths, and costs the United States at least sixty-five billion dollars each year in health care costs and lost productivity. Worldwide, even the most conservative estimates place the number of avoidable deaths caused by smoking at well above two million a year.

According to the American Heart Association, there is evidence that those who begin smoking before they are twenty years old have the highest incidence and earliest onset of both coronary heart disease and hypertension. Similarly, autopsy studies of smokers have raised questions about the effects of smoking in childhood and adolescence on the subsequent development of atherosclerosis in adulthood. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and blockage of blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack.

Nicotine, An Addictive Drug

Why is nicotine so powerfully addictive? Less than twelve seconds after a smoker inhales a cigarette, nicotine reaches the brain. There it affects the body's stress response systems, influencing the smoker's behavior and reinforcing the need to smoke. Nicotine addiction begins during the first few years of tobacco use (White, 39). The central element of addiction is that the substance controls your behavior by temporarily altering your mood when it is not in your system (42-43).

Ask yourself:
Besides tobacco, what ingredients are in a cigarette?
How many ingredients are in a cigarette?
Answer: Ingredients

Continue to Reasons for Smoking

Created by: Tracy Lynn Wise