Popular culture

Bursting the Teenagers bubble: Smoking cigarettes, cool or deadly?

By Dr Namrata Rupani

There are many reasons why a person starts smoking, but most of them start smoking in adolescence between 14 and 18 years old. Some may succumb to peer pressure and start smoking socially. Others start smoking to look “cooler” than their peers, while many think smoking is a way to relieve boredom or stress.

In India, 8.5% currently use some form of tobacco (9.6% boys; 7.4% girls); 4.1% smoke tobacco and 4.1% use smokeless tobacco. 21% of young people (aged 13-15) are exposed to second-hand smoke in indoor public places and 11% are exposed at home. Bidis, cigarettes and hookahs are the most common modes of tobacco consumption in India.

Media representations of smoking

Modern media may portray smoking as cool and stress-relieving, but it’s actually a deadly habit that can cause lung cancer and a host of other health problems. Through popular culture, advertising and social media, this generation has been brainwashed into believing that smoking is cool and a fashion statement, far from the deadly poison it can eventually become. As a result of these media portrayals, many people believe that smoking makes you more attractive, as it makes you appear more elegant and outgoing. The problem, at least for the majority of them, is that the more frequently they smoke, the more addicted they become, leading them to continue smoking for a long time.

Peer pressure

A teenager is under constant pressure to be “cool” at school, but this can impact the mental and psychological mind of the teenager. During preadolescence and adolescence, your child asserts his autonomy and explores his identity. They always yearn for approval from their peers and often fear rejection, so they see smoking as a way to be accepted by their peers, but eventually become addicted to smoking.

Social smokers

Most teenage smokers are portrayed by tobacco companies as cool, self-reliant individuals who like to have a good time and live on the edge of their comfort zone. As a result, they decide to try smoking, not realizing that even smoking a few cigarettes can be addictive. It is said that social smoking is not harmful, but it is a myth that cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke are all major risk factors caused by social smoking.

Genetic smoking

Drug codependency can be hereditary. However, addiction studies in genetics should not be interpreted as concluding that an addiction gene is inherited. An individual’s propensity to develop a habit such as smoking is a major factor in addiction, but smokers with a genetic predisposition to smoking can still quit, but it may be more difficult than for others. Smoking habits can be influenced by shared environmental factors such as exposure to smokers at school or in the neighborhood, or by parents.

Quitting becomes difficult

It is extremely difficult to break the habit of smoking for young people who start the practice at a young age. According to recently published research, the majority of teens who smoke cigarettes make several attempts to quit, but the vast majority fail. The study found that the majority of teenagers who smoked had expressed a desire to quit the habit; however, only a few of them have successfully quit smoking. Smoking during adolescence can cause several health problems. Nicotine exposure can have long-term effects on adolescent brain development. It also causes shortness of breath and decreased endurance in children and adolescents. It is one of the leading causes of death and disease in India, killing nearly 1.35 million people each year. Smoking may sound cool, but it causes many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the dangers it poses to your health are more real than illusory.

(The author is the founder and CEO of Capture Life Dental Care. The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)