Smoking and Public Health


Smoking is the most common addiction among adolescents and young adults.
 In almost 90% of adults it is reported that the first use of tobacco was during adolescence.
 Although the use of tobacco has declined over the last decades it remains one of the major health and social challenges and its use is still very common - among high school students almost one-third of females and one-half of males report using more than one tobacco product in the last 30 days. 
In the United States alone almost 400,000 young people become regular smokers every year.·

Smoking has well-known health hazards. 
It is associated with lung cancer, oral cancer, stroke, heart disease, emphysema, and other short and long-term breathing problems. 
These troubling facts are very well known to the public, both adults and adolescents. 
There is also a concerning association between use of tobacco and other dangerous behaviors e.g. 
use of other substances such as alcohol and marijuana and high-risk sexual behavior.
 Cognitive and mental problems including anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are also associated with smoking.
 It is of great concern and frustration that all the above-mentioned facts do not prevent millions from starting to smoke every year around the world.
 In fact smoking is practiced by every nation on the planet and appears to take place in every society, regardless of race, color or social status.

Some adolescents would pick up smoking because of false notions of presumably positive effects of smoking e.g. lower appetite resulting in weight loss and stress reduction effect. 
The ugly truth is that smoking is associated with undesirable cosmetic and social effects including yellow teeth, bad smell, bad breath and lower sports achievements.

There are social and environmental factors and trends that may increase smoking prevalence in adolescence. 
The history of tobacco use shows that males were always more likely to smoke compared with females.
 Advertisements encouraging people to smoke are still quite common around the world in newspapers, commercial breaks on TV and street posters, and are generally successful in increasing sales and use. 
The appearance of people smoking in movies and television shows may increase smoking rates, and family members and friends who smoke appear to have a similar effect.
 It is sad and even bizarre to witness family members, the young and the adults, smoking together even when obvious medical problems have already compromised the parents' and the grandparents' health and physical abilities. 
Smoking is more common among adolescents of low socioeconomic and educational status, while regular physical activity may be a preventive factor.

Smoking is addictive. Nicotine, a major ingredient in the tobacco, is highly addictive. 
Stopping this hazardous habit is therefore hard to do. Many products that contain nicotine and other substances were developed over the years and may help in quitting.
 However avoiding cigarettes is still much more effective.

Intervention to stop smoking
Intervention programs that aim to prevent adolescents from smoking or to quit smoking are introduced frequently, with considerable success.
For example, banning actors and actresses from smoking in films and banning advertisements for tobacco products, raising the lien of these products in the market and imposing excessive taxes on them.
 Legal measures such as prevention of sale of tobacco products to minors are also used to reduce cigarette smoking.

source: Tenenbaum, Ariel, Merrick, Joav, International Public Health Journal

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