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Cigarette Smoking



  • Cigarettes contain over 70 different chemicals that cause cancer.
  • Smokers can sick more often than nonsmokers.
  • Talk to your parents and your HCP if you think you may have ADHD.
  • The longer you smoke the harder it is to quit.

Most teens are aware that people who have smoked for a while can get lung cancer and emphysema and eventually die, but many don't know about all of the bad things that smoking can do to them right now. If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to find out about the effects of smoking on your life now.


Why is smoking unhealthy?

According to research done by a United States government agency called the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there are more health problems caused from tobacco use than by all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.


8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking, and on average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.


Each cigarette contains about 7000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous and about 70 cause cancer. Some of the worst ones are:

Every time a person inhales smoke from a cigarette, small amounts of these chemicals get into their blood through their lungs. The chemicals are then transported by the blood to different parts of the body and cause harm.


Facts about smoking:

Even small amounts of the poisonous chemicals in cigarettes can do bad things to your body.

What happens to a person's lungs when they smoke?

Every time a smoker inhales a cigarette, some of the alveoli (air sacks in the lungs) die. Alveoli are important because they transfer oxygen from the lungs into the blood which then carries oxygen to other organs in the body. This is dangerous because the alveoli won't grow back so when they are destroyed, part of a person's lungs will not function anymore. People with lung disease have problems doing physical activities such as sports, dancing, or singing.


Smoking paralyzes the cilia that line the lungs. Cilia are little hair like structures that move back and forth to sweep particles out of the lungs. When a person smokes, the cilia can't move and thus can't do their job. So dust, pollen, and other things that are inhaled just sit in the lungs and build up. Also, there are a lot of particles in smoke that get into the lungs. If the cilia can't move, the particles stay in the lungs and form tar.


Why do people smoke if it's so bad for them?

Some people like the feeling that smoking gives them. This temporary feeling is from the nicotine in the cigarettes. Some teens think smoking will help them lose weight or stay thin, but this isn't true.



How do tobacco companies get teens to start smoking?

Think about it this way: When a person decides to start smoking, the tobacco companies are happy because they spend millions of dollars every year on advertising to try to get new people, especially teens, to smoke. Once a person is hooked on smoking, they are forced to buy cigarettes to support their addiction. Ask yourself: Do I really want a big corporation controlling my life and telling me how to spend my money?


Can a person stop smoking if they're addicted to cigarettes?

Many people don't realize they are addicted to smoking. They think they can easily quit any time they want. But when they try, they forget it is extremely hard. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get addicted. Cigarettes are just as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Even if you only smoke one or two cigarettes a day and even if you've never bought a pack of cigarettes yourself, you are at risk. Stressful situations or hanging out with friends who smoke might cause a person to smoke more and become addicted. If you smoke, try going a whole week without smoking at all. If you find this challenge to be very hard, you are probably addicted to cigarettes.


When is the best time to quit smoking?

A lot of people put off quitting smoking, thinking that they'll do it when the time is right. Only 5% of teens think they will still be smoking in 5 years. Actually, about 75% of them are still smoking more than five years later. If you smoke, it will never seem like the right time to quit and quitting will never be easy. The longer you smoke, the harder it will be to stop and the more damage you will do to your body.


Here are some reasons to quit sooner rather than later:

What are E-Cigarettes?

E- Cigarettes is short for “electronic” or battery operated smoking products that are made to look like; cigarettes, cigars, pipes and/or pens. Nicotine that is normally found in regular smoking products is made into a vapor that is inhaled. It’s important to know that E-cigarettes are NOT safer than regular cigarettes because they have not been studied nor approved by the FDA, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (the government organization that tests the safety of cigarettes, medicine, and food).


Smoking has serious effects on a person's life. The longer a person smokes the more risk for serious health problems. Most people who begin smoking as teens say that they wish they had never started. No one can actually make a person stop smoking, but getting support from friends and family help a lot. If you smoke, just think about how much healthier you'll feel when you kick the habit!


Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital


Updated: 4/28/2014


Related Guides:

How to Quit Smoking

The decision to stop smoking can seem overwhelming, but with help from this guide and support from your family and friends, you can do it. Half of all the people who have ever smoked have quit, and so can you...

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