CAUSES OF TEENAGE SMOKING
A thirteen-year-old boy, standing in the doorway of his school, puffs on a cigarette. He holds it carelessly, like an adult, yet in plain view. He looks around to make sure that the other guys are watching. If you ask how he has smoked, you will find out that he started when he was eleven. By now, he is an addicted smoker. If you ask him why he smokes, he will probably say he enjoys it. Then you wonder if that is really the reason. But the harsh reality is that he, altogether with many other adolescents, is among those who contribute to a growing number of smokers in society nowadays. It seems to me the causes for teenage smoking are more complex. More specifically, the have more to do with the ambiguous role of teenagers in society. Teenage smoking is driven by personal insecurity, a desire to be like adults and peer pressure.
The foremost cause of teenage smoking is the insecurity young people often feel. They are at redefining and difficult age. They are no longer children, and hence the ways in which they have behaved in the past are inappropriate. On the other hand, they are not yet adults; still, they do not know the ways of the adult world. This conflict can end up in feelings of insecurity. For one thing, if children want attention from their parents or a toy or sweet, they can cry to draw attention to their desires. For teenagers, however, crying will be labeled childish and they will be told to “act their age.” More often than not, the teenager does not know how to act his or her age. Since teenagers do not know what to do, they ultimately turn to smoking as a way to hide their nervousness and insecurities. This seems to be the most fundamental culprit of by what drive teenagers come to cigarette consumption.
As we have just seen anyhow, teenagers need to learn how to behave as adults. They of course realize this and spend time emulating the grown-ups. Thus they attempt to adopt more adult attitudes and manners. They also pay attention to their dress and the opposite sex. One thing which youngsters perceive as “very adult” is smoking cigarettes. Perhaps a boy sees his father or older brother smokes. He thinks of his father as a man and therefore he wants to be “a man” like his father, treacherously expediting him to smoke, beginning a habit that most adults know is unhealthy.
While it is true that teenagers are attempting to become adults, this effort is often not fully conscious and they view the adults closest to them, their parents and teachers, as enemies. With that in mind, they turn to their peer group for support. We are all familiar with the teenagers who want to look, act, and dress exactly like all of the other teenagers. This peer group conformity can exert such an extreme pressure that often teenagers do things in the group that they would not normally do. One of these things is smoking cigarettes. Imagine a group of guys playing pool together after school. One says to the others, “I’m going to buy a pack of cigarettes. Do you want to smoke with me?” The peer pressure here is so great that most normal boys will fail to resist and succumb.
The outrageous backlash versus cigarette peaks when publicity learns how devastating smoking is upon their younger generations. Anti-tobacco activists constantly launch educational campaigns to teach students in their early age the undesired and unhealthy impacts of smoking and try to minimize the number of young smokers at best. Actively concerned parents likewise urge lawmakers to ban promotional items as well as TV broadcasts from the tobacco companies in an intense effort to keep cigarette advertising, which is quite popular among teens, away from their offspring. Though encountering such severe opposition, the industry argues that the blame should be laid at the feet of advertisers whose goal is to lure more adolescent consumers of this toxic chemical.
We can see that personal insecurity, desire to be like adults, and peer pressure can cause many teenagers to commence something which they may later regret. It is really unfortunate that cigarette smoking, particularly when started at an early age, is so addictive regardless of afterward relief effort.
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