Health and Smoking

Why Is Educating Teenagers About Smoking Important?

Health

Smoking contributes to heart disease and various types of cancer, such as cancer of the lungs, throat and stomach. It also increases the risk of health issues like pneumonia and bronchitis. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org, the carbon monoxide inhaled from smoking takes oxygen from the body and introduces toxic chemicals. Smoking during the teen years and continuing through adulthood prolongs exposure to the dangers of smoking.

Addiction

The nicotine in cigarettes is addictive. Signs of nicotine addiction include feeling nervous without cigarettes and experiencing cravings. It can be especially hard for a teenager to quit smoking, because in addition to the challenge that arises from nicotine addiction, peer pressure during the teenage years can be a strong and powerful hindrance.

Other Problems

In addition to health complications and potential addiction, smoking can also contribute to yellowed teeth and an unfavorable smell in clothes and hair, which can impair a teen’s social life. A teenager who smokes might also have a hard time staying active and having energy, especially if he participates in school sports. Smoking is an expensive habit that can be hard to maintain with a teenager’s income.

Recommendations

To educate your teen about smoking, make sure she is aware of the consequences in the areas of health, appearance and expense. Her school might provide anti-smoking classes or materials, and the Mayo Clinic site recommends that you voice your disapproval of smoking, as teens whose parents set the firmest restrictions tend to smoke less. If your teen does develop a smoking habit, look into local community organizations to see what kind of resources they offer for quitting, and talk to her doctor.

The Effects of Smoking on Babies

Asthma

Infants exposed to secondhand smoke at home have an increased chance of developing asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease affecting your airways. Babies who grow up around smokers become very sensitive to certain triggers, such as allergies or exercise. When they react to these triggers their airways narrow, causing wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing. Smoke can also trigger asthma attacks in people who have asthma.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant under 1 year of age. There are many risk factors for SIDS, including sleeping on the stomach, overheating and poor prenatal care. Another risk factor is smoking. Infants born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy and those who live in houses where one or both parents smoke have an increased risk of dying of SIDS.

Pneumonia

An increased chance of being hospitalized due to pneumonia during their first year of life is another effect smoking has on infants. Smoking is also linked to other lower-respiratory infections that require infants to be hospitalized.

Considerations

All of these effects are seen in households where either parent smokes. The risks are even greater when infants are breastfed by mothers who are heavy smokers--those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. Maternal smoking has also been linked to earlier weaning and less milk production in breastfeeding mothers. All secondhand smoke is harmful to infants, but it is less so when it occurs outside an infant's home and by those who are not the primary caregivers.

Prevention/Solution

If you are parents of an infant, make every effort to stop smoking. If you cannot quit, try to smoke outside or in a separate room from the baby. Avoid exposing your baby to secondhand smoke whenever possible. Ask family and friends to avoid smoking when your infant is present.

What Are the Signs That Your Teenage Daughter Might Be Smoking Pot?

Behavioral Signs

If your teen daughter is smoking pot, she may start acting differently, according to David Rotenberg, executive director of adolescent and young adult services at Caron Treatment Centers in Caron, Pennsylvania. Several behavioral indicators of your daughter's marijuana use include a lack of motivation for things she once enjoyed, a decline in academic performance and disinterest in extracurricular activities and hobbies. While teens have a tendency to withdraw from the family in search of more independence and freedom, Rotenberg suggests that withdrawal from the family might also indicate that she is using pot. It is one thing for your daughter to spend most of her time away from the family locked inside her bedroom with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. It is another, very different thing if she is discontinuing tennis or violin lessons, and you might want to see if everything is all right with her.

Physical Signs

If your daughter has been smoking pot, you might notice signs that suggest she is using pot. If you see bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, lowered eyelids and slow, deliberate speech, she might be smoking weed. If you choose to address your daughter's weed habit with her, be sure to gather enough proof before you approach her. Write down the days that you suspect she might be smoking pot, and let her know that you care about her health and well being.

Emotional Signs

Your daughter may have a depressed mood, her affect may be flat, and this might give the impression that she might be disinterested with life. Or, she might seem paranoid at times. It is not uncommon for marijuana users to experience paranoia. If it is determined that your daughter is getting high, you may want to explain to her that when she chooses to remove pot from her life she will become motivated to do the things she once enjoyed, which will help her feel better and will help quell her depressive feelings and behaviors.

Social Signs

Your daughter may move in different social circles. If you notice that your daughter's best friend since fifth grade doesn't visit anymore and your daughter has begun to hang out with people you deem "untrustworthy characters," it may be time to learn more about these friends, and the types of activities they enjoy. Look for any signs of marijuana use in your daughter's friends, too to help your daughter get back on track.