CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Why do teens smoke? People have been asking this question for years now. There are many reasons why, and sometimes only a teen can answer that question.The biggest reason for teenage smoking: peer pressure.Although most beg to differ, some teenagers think they look or sound cool if they are seen smoking or overheard telling people they smoke. Smoking might please their friends or make them seem "mysterious" or "rebellious." Overall, the majority of teenagers smoke to enhance their image.The second reason is that teens believe smoking relieves stress, which is a common thing for people to deal with in their lives. Some people just know how to handle it better. While smoking may relieve stress, it does so in one of the unhealthiest ways possible.Similar to drinking, smoking makes you feel good at the moment without actually doing anything beneficial for you. The stress always comes back because it never went away; it was just the chemicals calming your nerves.
A more efficient, healthy way to erase the stress from your mind and body is to do something you enjoy. Whether it's reading, playing games, watching TV or running around outside ... all of these alternatives are a lot better for you.The third reason teens smoke, which hasn't really been as big a deal the past few years, is because of the media. Commercials promoting smoking have long been banned, but TV and movie characters can still smoke, and there are ads in magazines.However, some admittedly scary anti-smoking commercials have been made recently, which definitely have an effect on people. So, due to anti-smoking groups, this issue has mostly been fixed.Most teenagers ignore the imminent dangers in smoking just one cigarette. Just one cigarette will eventually lead to a whole pack of cigarettes! People often underestimate the power of addiction and don't understand how difficult it is for even the most strong-willed individuals to overcome it.Teenage smoking is even more dangerous than adult smoking. Since teens are often still growing, it could reduce the rate of lung growth. According to the World Health Organization, early signs of heart disease and stroke can be found in adolescents who smoke, along with having an increased chance of lung disease.Teen smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with many other risky behaviors, including fighting and unprotected sex.Adolescents don't understand the whole, sad picture of what could happen to them if they smoke, especially if they start early. They don't think it could happen to them, but what they don't realize is that it could happen to anyone who puts themselves in danger by making one irrational decision and lighting that first cigarette.