Teen Smoking Rates Continue to Rise, Surprises Surgeon General

By Emily Murray

At a time when we know more than ever about the dangers associated with smoking cigarettes, it comes as an unpleasant surprise to many to find that more young people are continuing to light up. Millions die smoking related complications each year and it appears that “Big Tobacco” is reeling in a whole new generation of customers. If this surprises you, you are not alone – the numbers of young smokers shocked the surgeon general too.

According to a new study, nearly 1 out of every 4 high school seniors is a smoker and 1 of 3 young adults under the age of 26 are smokers as well. Prior to this recent report, no report had been released on teen smoking since 1994 and many likely believed that the rates have begun to decrease since then. The numbers prove this is not the case. Sadly, no matter what your age, quitting cigarettes is extremely difficult and this study shows that nearly 80% off all teens who begin smoking will continue to smoke as adults. When you consider that many young people try smoking at some point in their lives, this is very alarming.

This information was reportedly shocking to the Surgeon General who released this statement with the report –

“Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don’t want our children to start something now that they won’t be able to change later in life.”

So what is causing this continued rise in popularity? Many believe that the clever marketing campaigns devised by “Big Tobacco” continue reeling them in. It’s no secret that many of these campaigns are geared toward teens and young adults. As reported by Reuters, more than $27 million is spent each day in tobacco advertising.

So how are we supposed to process this report? For those with children, information like this is eye-opening. In fact, children who have parents who smoke are more likely to pick up the habit so if you are looking for a way to cut down these high numbers, it starts with you. For those who do not smoke, it is important to discuss this with your kids. Peer pressure is something that will always be present but if you can teach your kids about the negative consequences they may be better equipped to say “no” when friends pressure them to smoke.

While many find this report to be disheartening, it is a good reminder that we can begin combating these rising numbers with more and more awareness.