The Effects of Using Tobacco
Although the negative effects of smoking are well documented, many people are not aware of them. Your teen may think that the health-related consequences of smoking aren’t so bad, or that they will only see the effects after many years of tobacco use. Be sure to let them know that even the short-term effects can be serious and that it’s not worth risking the long-term effects just to relieve stress or fit in.
Short-Term Effects of Smoking
- Increased susceptibility to respiratory illness 1
- Shortness of breath 2
- Impaired lung growth and function
- Bad breath
- Foul-smelling clothes
Long-Term Effects of Smoking
- Lung, mouth, throat, kidney, and stomach cancers
- Coronary heart disease 3
- Emphysema and other chronic diseases 1
- Significantly reduced lifespan – If teens continue their habit into adulthood, they can expect to spend over $75,000 in excess medical care related to their smoking, and a life expectancy up to 20 years shorter than non-smokers.5
- Contrary to common belief, smoking may also increase depressive symptoms in some adolescents. 6
Health Effects of Smokeless Tobacco
- Smokeless tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).7,9
- Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer; it increases the risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. 9,10
- Smokeless tobacco is also strongly associated with leukoplakia—a precancerous lesion of the soft tissue in the mouth that consists of a white patch or plaque that cannot be scraped off. 8
- Smokeless tobacco is associated with recession of the gums, gum disease, and tooth decay. 8
- Smokeless tobacco use during pregnancy increases the risks for preeclampsia (i.e., a condition that may include high blood pressure, fluid retention, and swelling), premature birth, and low birth weight.9
- Smokeless tobacco use by men causes reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm cells.9
- Smokeless tobacco use can lead to nicotine addiction and dependence.7,9
- Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.8
Even though it may seem obvious to adults that the risks of smoking and smokeless tobacco use outweigh the benefits, teens don’t always see it that way. Remind your teen of the effects, both short- and long-term, that smoking and tobacco use can have, even if you think he or she should already know.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General (Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004).
2. Ali H. Mokdad, James S. Marks, Donna F. Stroup, and Julie L. Gerberding, “Actual Causes of Death in the United States,” JAMA 291 (2004): 1238-44.
3. American Lung Association, Smoking 101 Fact Sheet (2008), http://www.lungusa.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.39853/k.5D05/Smoking_101_Fact_….
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs—United States, 1995-1999,” MMWR 51, no. 14 (2002): 300-3.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity, and Economic Costs (2006).
6. Michael Chaiton, Joanna Cohen, Jennifer O’Loughlin, & Juergen Rehm. Use of Cigarettes to Improve Affect and Depressive Symptoms in a Longitudinal Study of Adolescents. Addictive Behaviors 35 , no. 12 (2010): 1054-1060.
7. National Cancer Institute. Smokeless Tobacco or Health: An International Perspective . Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute; 1992 [accessed 2011 Jan 26].
8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994 [accessed 2011 Jan 26].
9. World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines . (PDF–3.18 MB) International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 2007 [accessed 2011 Jan 26].
10. World Health Organization. Summaries and Evaluations: Tobacco Products, Smokeless (Group 1) . Lyon, France: World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1998 [accessed 2011 Jan 26].
- Alcohol Use
- Drug Use
- Depression and Suicide
- Tobacco Use
- Bullying and Cyberbullying
- Early Sexual Activity
- Eating Disorders
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