Smoking: Don’t Let It Steer You Wrong: Facts for Teens

by Jenny Novac on June 27, 2011

What’s in cigarettes?

Cigarettes contain disgusting things that you would never think about putting in your body. For example, cigarettes contain tar, carbon monoxide and chemicals like DDT, arsenic and formaldehyde (a gas used to preserve dead animals).


All of these things are bad for your body. Nicotine raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. Tar and carbon monoxide cause serious breathing problems. And you know tobacco smoke causes cancer.
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What’s the real deal with tobacco?

Tobacco is toxic (poison) to your body. It causes health problems and may lead to early death. On top of that, tobacco is addictive. This means that once you start using it, your body starts to need it. The longer you use tobacco, and the more you use, the harder it is to stop. Everyone who smokes started by “just trying it.” That’s how the habit and the addiction begin.

Is chewing tobacco as bad as cigarettes?

Yes. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco are toxic to your body. You may hear more about the harm cigarettes do to the body, but chewing tobacco can also hurt your health. Chewing tobacco can cause sores and white patches in your mouth, as well as diseases and cancers of the mouth, gums and throat. Chewing can give you bad breath, discolor your teeth and cause tooth loss. And one chew contains 15 times the nicotine of a cigarette (meaning the risk of addiction is much higher).

Smoking facts

It’s never too late to quit.

If you smoke, it’s not too late to make a change. To quit, you must break your addiction to nicotine and your habit of smoking. Your habit is the behavior that goes with your tobacco use, such as getting out of school and lighting a cigarette.


Reasons not to smoke

Bad breath
Stained teeth and hands
Cough/sore throat
Problems breathing
Feeling tired and out of breath
Wrinkles (more, sooner)
Arguments with parents, friends
Cancer risk
Heart disease risk
Gum disease risk
Bad smell in your clothes, hair, skin
Cigarette burns in your car or on your clothes
Risk of secondhand smoke to people around you

Things to do instead of smoking

Chew sugarless gum.
Call a friend.
Chew sunflower seeds, ground mint leaves or caffeine-free herbal tea leaves.
Go to a movie or another place where you can’t smoke.
Take a walk or work out.
Remind yourself why you want to quit.

Smoking teenager

Steps to make quitting easier:

Pick a stop date. Choose a date 2 to 4 weeks from today so you can get ready to quit. If possible, choose a time when things in your life will change, like when you’re about to start a break from school. Or just pick a time when you don’t expect any extra stress at school, work or home. For example, quit after final exams, not during them.

Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit. Keep the list on hand so you can look at it when you have a nicotine craving.

Keep track of where, when and why you smoke. You may want to make notes for a week or so to know ahead of time when and why you crave a cigarette. Plan what you’ll do instead of smoking (see list above for ideas). You may also want to plan what you’ll say to people who pressure you to smoke.

Throw away all of your tobacco. Clean out your room if you have smoked there. Throw away your ashtrays and lighters–anything that you connect with your smoking habit.

Tell your friends that you’re quitting. Ask them not to pressure you about smoking. Find other things to do with them besides smoking.

When your stop date arrives, STOP. Plan little rewards for yourself for each tobacco-free day, week or month. For example, buy yourself a new shirt or ask a friend to see a movie

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